Free Bike Maintenance Station from Pedal Minnesota during Bike Walk Week

One of the awesome benefits of living in a bike-friendly state is that there are many perks for riders to take advantage of. Take Pedal Minnesota’s free bike tune-up stations. On Saturday, June 9, you can bring your bike to one of two different locations to have your tires aired up, your chain lubed, and get those minor adjustments tweaked by a professional bike mechanic – for free! This is perfect for growing kids who might need their seat height adjusted. Or, maybe your brake cables are a bit stretched and you just need help getting them tightened up.

You will find the free bike stations set up on Hennepin and Washington downtown, and Knox and Lagoon in Uptown. The free service stations are open from 9am until 2pm, on Saturday, June 9.

Weekend Preview, June 1-3, 2012

Summer doesn’t officially start until June 20th this year here in the northern hemisphere, but if you live in the Twin Cities you might argue that is actually starts June 2nd, which just happens to coincide with the beginning of Bike Walk Week Twin Cities 2012. There are a mess of events planned all week, but for now I will just name some highlights and the happenings for the weekend.

Things will get kicked off Saturday with Northeast Ride and Tour de Cure.

Sunday, of course, is Grand Old Day on Grand Ave. in Saint Paul.

I did discover a cool, interesting tidbit going on during Bike Walk Week. There will be a bike counter set up at different locations each day to count passing cyclists. The Center for Energy and Environment website states, “Bicycling Counts is a creative and engaging strategy to educate the Minneapolis community about the impact of individual action in our city and our environment.” The first bike counter will be placed at the West River Parkway bike path across from the Mill City Museum, located at 704 South 2nd Street in Minneapolis. You can find out more about the Bike Counts at The Center for Energy and Environment. To find the counter and track the results, clues will be posted on Twitter at @mncee_myhome using the #bicyclingcounts hashtag, as well as the Minnesota Energy Challenge Facebook page.

There are many events scheduled throughout the work week and another full slate of bike to-do’s next weekend, highlighted by Northern Spark, Greenway Glow, and Urban Assault Ride. BikeMinneapolis with be attending many events and will attempt to encapsulate all the fun shenanigans.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the Bike Walk Week Twin Cities 2012 site for all the scheduled events.

You can also see more updates at BikeMinneapolis facebook page and Twitter @BikeMinneapolis.

Get Tagged, Get Zapped, Get Rewarded with ZAP Twin Cities

ZAP Twin CitiesLast week I had an opportunity to meet with Steve Sanders, Alternative Transportation Manager at the University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services about the implementation of a new bike commuter program in Minneapolis and St. Paul, ZAP Twin Cities. It’s based on the very successful University of Minnesota ZAP Bike Commuting Program, but, many Minneapolis/St. Paul residents probably aren’t familiar with the University’s commuter program because Gopher ZAP is available exclusively for U of M students, faculty, and staff. But now, in partnership with Commuter Connection and St. Paul Smart Trips, the University of Minnesota is helping to make possible a commuter-based rewards program for all Twin Cities metro area residents who already commute, or, for residents who are looking for just a little more incentive to start making daily commutes via bicycle.

The Gopher ZAP program uses software and hardware developed by Dero ZAP. If they sound familiar to you, it’s probably because they are the Minneapolis-based Dero Bike Rack Company that started making commercial bike racks, back in 1995. The Dero ZAP tag is installed in your spokes, and the ZAP station records your commute when you pass by.

“It’s all automated. The user doesn’t have to do anything special, other than have the tag installed on their bike when they register, and ride past the readers located throughout the U of M campus, and soon, in both downtown areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul,” explained Steve Sanders. I asked him if there was a registration fee or if ZAP was subscription-based. Sanders replied that Gopher ZAP and ZAP Twin Cities is completely free to users. “Using Dero’s ZAP technology, the program promotes, encourages and rewards bike commuting to change how people in the Twin Cities choose to get around.”

Sanders

Steve Sanders shows how Gopher ZAP commuters can track their account.

I asked Steve about the popularity of the Gopher ZAP program, and he told me that the ZAP technology was tested for about a year prior to the January, 2012 launch of the commuter rewards program on campus. “In just under six months we already have nearly 800 users signed up,” Sanders reported. “We are always obtaining new incentives and rewards for Gopher ZAP users, but the more popular ones remain health insurance premium discounts from U Wellness programs for points credited by using the bike commuter program, and other U Wellness incentives. Students are also rewarded with many bike accessories, like lights and fenders.” Sanders mentioned that they are working hard to have a similar health-based program rewards system available for the newly expanded ZAP Twin Cities, but that it will take more time, since they are developing new relationships with other health-care organizations outside of the University. Currently, they have negotiated rewards for discounts at local merchants and restaurants, but more information will be available soon.

There are presently 18 ZAP reader stations on the U of M campus. There will be approximately 10 ZAP readers strategically placed, in each downtown St. Paul, and downtown Minneapolis. Once the new reader stations are in place, their locations will be made available so bike commuters can plan their routes to record their commute, using any of the combined 38 reader stations, including those already in place on the University campus. The two downtown’s reader stations, linked by the present Gopher ZAP stations, will create an expansive network that many cyclists can use very easily.

ZAP station

ZAP station reader on University of MN campus

Sanders added, “The rapid growth and popularity of Gopher ZAP has Commuter Connection, St. Paul Smart Trips, and University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services wheeling to get ZAP Twin Cities set up. It is very exciting, but also challenging, since we are actually developing all this from the ground up, without help of any other similar infrastructure to serve as a guide, other than what we have already accomplished here at the U. We are not aware of any other commuter bicycle rewards program, in any community, using this technology, at this level.  So, there are obviously going to be hurdles and speed-bumps when working with the city, utilities, and other agencies, to get the job done right, for success and continued growth. But, based on the successful development of Gopher ZAP and the awesome cycling community growing up around the Twin Cities, we are all very optimistic and feel fortunate to be working on such a unique and important endeavor.”

Sanders informed me during our interview that Commuter Connection had just received a $10,000 grant from Bikes Belong. “The interest and cooperation from cycling advocate agencies has been tremendous. The financial backing and other assistance granted to help develop and put the ZAP programs in place has been instrumental.”

The ZAP Twin Cities bicycle commuter rewards program is slated to launch in mid-to-late June, pending permits, location selection, and other criteria still in the development process. BikeMinneapolis will follow the progress and updates with more info when it’s available.

You can also follow ZAP Twin Cities on Twitter and Facebook.

MN 2020 Video Production Specialist Tom Niemisto produced a short film, back in March, about the Gopher ZAP bike commute program that you can see here.

 

One On One to Design and Operate a Bicycle Center at St. Paul Union Depot

One on One Bike StudioAccording to the Ramsey County Regional Rail News (RCRRN)One on One Bicycle Studio will play a key role in the revitalization of St. Paul’s Union Depot. One on One, of course, is a staple in the bicycle community, the first of it’s kind where you can get a cup of joe and a sandwich while shopping for a new bike or, while getting your wheels serviced. I am willing to bet that Gene was a pivotal influence, but is definitely a staunch supporter to this day, of the Stupor Bowl. And, don’t forget the Junkyard. One on One is also known as the bike messenger capital in downtown Minneapolis.

Some of the plans for the new bike center include bike storage, lockers and showers, bike repair and retail services. In addition, they plan to operate a café and art gallery, serving up grab-and-go foods for commuters, gourmet soups, sandwiches and organic, fair-trade coffee. But of course, it’s One on One, right?

I wonder if this means the Stupor Bowl might be getting a new playing field?

See the full press release here at RCRRN site.

Whittier Alliance Green Fair

Saturday, Nov. 12th was the Green Fair, put on in the Whittier Neighborhood by Whittier Alliance to promote green ideas in our community. If you have been to the Green Expo at the Minnesota State Fair, you are already familiar with many of the organizations, and vendors that were on display. I was there as a volunteer with the Midtown Greenway Coalition. This was my first time volunteering with them and I am learning a lot. Things like the streetcar that is being proposed, and is in route to be installed to run along side of the greenway trail, as well as a streetcar that would run up Nicollet Ave.

At the fair, I met people like Kristy, who rides her bike to deliver honey for her business, Beez Kneez. I also met Julia with CERT, Clean Energy Resource Teams.

I also got to finally meet Margeret Shields with Gardening Matters who works with the planning of Community Gardens across Minnesota. Gardeningmatters.org The common thread that ran through that room, was the passion that people felt for what they were doing. It was really great to be a part of and feed off the energy and ideas that people are coming up with to live more sustainably and be better neighbors.

If you would like to get involved with the Greenway or would like more information, please go to Midtowngreenway.org

Center for Energy and Environment

Clean Energy Resource Teams, Eureka Recycling

Dale Howey, D & E Management
http://www.startribune.com/local/127069138.html

Gardening Matters

Greenstock USA

Hour Car

Master Gardeners of Hennepin County

Metro Tansit

Midtown Greenway Coalition

Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light

Mississippi Watershed Management Organization

Our Power

Powerfully Green

Re-Go Electric Car Conversions

Slow Food MN

Sustainable Resource Center

Youth Farm and Market

Unexpected Bridge Meeting

I have only been back in Minneapolis for a few weeks, but I’ve already logged a few miles. However, I had, as of last weekend, yet to ride one of my fav loops–Uptown Greenway to W River Rd to Minnehaha Pkwy to Lakes–a nice ride, about 17 miles, or so. On this trip, I had the pleasure of crossing paths with a well-known Minneapolis personality and comedian. What was really cool was his custom high-wheeler! See if you can figure out who he is.

I will post more videos soon. For now, check out this interesting blog post I found about biking the Grand Rounds by Thomas Laussermair, a man from Florida. Kinda neat to get a visitors perspective. He does a nice job of illustrating his ride. Actually, his whole website is about all his travel adventures… pretty cool!

Fall Sights and Sounds from Two Wheels

Fall in Uptown, Minneapolis

I love biking in the fall in Minnesota. It’s a time of year that is crisp with life, despite the decay that is turning all around us. The air is sharp, the lines are edgy. The Greenway is busy with weekend warriors and family caravans. The sun is smiling on my back. Sabo’s Bridge greets me with a high-five from Fancy Ray on his modern-day high-wheeler! The East Bank leaks through the sparse trees on West River Road – topography and terrain not normally seen. I forgot my water bottle and my lips are cracked and my throat is sticky. The Falls are sparse, the creek deadened with spongy leaves. Hoodie is damp with sweat. The Parkway is calm and serene as shadows fall and the air cools even more. The trampled leaves smooth the pavement to a slick, earthy path. Luckily, there is a well still pumping. My lungs sting and my calves cramp ever so slightly as I crest the hill. The Harriet Troll is fairing well with many visitors today. The lake cold and blue with friendly fowl. I am welcomed home with a warm shower.