Mankato has jumped onto a growing list of communities competing to become known as bike friendly. It recently installed five bicycle repair stations around the city to make cycling more accessible, and has plans for adding a sixth stand shortly.
The bike repair stations add to three repair stations already installed at the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus. They include a pump, screwdrivers, wrenches, and a mounting stand for elevating the bike to work on it.
Mankato began rethinking its bicycle accessibility during a review of its street and sidewalk usage. Its Complete Streets plan was approved in 2015 and included a mandate to incorporate bicycle, pedestrian and transit facilities in all of the city’s street construction, reconstruction and pavement maintenance projects. While the city had a number of multiuse trails, its on-street bike routes were lacking, said Landon Bode, an associate city engineer.
“That was an area that was never strong with Mankato,” Bode said. “We’re looking at providing other services to the bicycling community so that all users can utilize the roadways and trails.”
The city began discussions with bicyclists and, with a grant from a state Health Department program that encourages healthy lifestyles, moved forward to develop bike lanes and other bike-friendly initiatives. The city has since added more than 10 miles of bike lanes.
Brandon Knudsvig, a local cycling enthusiast and an assistant store leader at Scheels, a local sporting goods store, became part of the effort when his corporate office in Fargo asked if there was interest in the bike stations. Scheels ended up sponsoring the purchase of three of the repair stations, which cost between $1,100 and $1,300. The city owns the stations and will be responsible for their upkeep.
Knudsvig said the Mankato-area cycling community is growing and the stations acknowledge that fact. A regular Thursday night bike ride has grown to average more than 60 people, he said.
“Seeing all the bicycling facilities around town gives people a lot more confidence that they are supported,” Knudsvig said.
There are now more than 100 bike repair stations around the state. In Minneapolis alone, bike repair stands are available at more than a dozen locations within a mile of downtown.
HealthPartners has sponsored 10 stations around the Twin Cities and St. Cloud. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has installed stations at more than 30 state trailheads. Other repair station locations include university campuses and city parks in more than two dozen communities, according to Pedal Minnesota, a partnership to promote cycling initiated by the state’s tourism promotion office.
The Washington, D.C.-based League of American Bicyclists has named Minnesota its second most bicycle-friendly state behind Washington. It has identified 21 Minnesota cities as bicycle-friendly communities.
Minneapolis-based Dero is one of the leading manufacturers of repair stations. Its Dero Fixit stand was released in 2009, and Dero estimates nearly 1,100 of its repair stations have been installed across the globe.