Portable bicycle stations proposed for Albert Lea

Published 9:44 pm Monday, October 8, 2018

City would accept grant if proposal goes ahead

An Albert Lea businessman hopes to bring portable bicycle stations to the community, possibly as early as this year.

Bill Howe requested the Albert Lea City Council accept a $15,000 Freeborn County Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant to install two bike stations. A final agreement is expected to come before the council Oct. 22.

The first location is expected to be south of the splash pad. The second will be by a bike rack station at Frank Hall Park. On each site, two lockers will be expected to hold two foldable bicycles, while the other two will hold one each.

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Howe said reservations will be available online.

The bicycles are expected to accommodate users of nearly all ages.

“Our most recent product provides a bike share solution for those that want to improve their health and to better experience our community and local bike trails,” he said.

A minimum $2 to $5 per-bike charge is expected.

The stations would be similar to iPaddlePort, kayak rentals Howe founded.

If the plan is approved, the city would be expected to own the bikes and stations. Howe would receive a majority of the revenue.

Howe said despite that, the city would reap benefits from the plan. He urged councilors to not look at the plan from a financial standpoint.

“It’s an amenity to the city to enhance our community’s wellness, and when we have people come here and experience something like this, it’s just very unique,” he said.

Second Ward Councilor Larry Baker thanked Howe for introducing the proposal and helping improve community health.

Fourth Ward Councilor Reid Olson said he has heard similar proposals as a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

“It’s a great idea to keep it self-contained,” he said. “I see a lot less danger of theft and all of the other stuff that goes with it.”

Howe said the stations could be in place this year and will be in by early spring at the latest.

In other action, the council:

Approved the city transition plan, meant to establish a base for accessibility to the city transportation system and be a guide to ensure transportation is accessible to users. The plan covers accessibility within public right-of-ways and does not include information on city programs, practices or building facilities not related to public right-of-ways.

Appointed election and health care election judges for the Nov. 6 general election.

Authorized a permanent easement with William G. Dress trust and Jeffrey G. Dress trust in order to place trunk sanitary sewer and water main west along Richway Drive to service the Stables area.

Authorized a 1.73-acre permanent easement with Stables Development Co. LLP to place sanitary sewer and water main west along Richway Drive and Belgrade Drive to service the Stables area.

Accepted state approval of Stables annexation for Albert Lea Township. The township requested annexation of 8.38 acres to connect city sanitary sewer and water.

Accepted state approval of Stables annexation for Bancroft Township. The township requested annexation of 63.32 acres to connect city sanitary sewer and water.

Moved the planned Nov. 12 council meeting to 7 p.m. Nov. 13.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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