Austin's Red Bike Project promotes pedal power
The bikes are sure to be a common sight on the streets and trails in Austin. They’ll be bright red fixtures in a city that’s on the move with a goal of building a more active, bike friendly community.
The Red Bike Project, Austin’s free bike sharing program, launched with help from Mower County Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP).
Steve Kime, chair for both the city’s Vision 2020 initiative and the Austin City Planning Commission, suggested the program after he saw how successful a similar free community bike program was in Willmar.
Kime thought a similar program would work in Austin, which has many trails through the area. He met with Karissa Studier, Mower County SHIP coordinator, who helped the group get a SHIP grant to purchase red bike racks. City residents donated all of the bikes.
“We want to get people out on these bikes, riding for recreation and transportation,” Kime said. “Our vision is to make Austin a truly bike friendly city by 2020 and this project gets us a step closer to that goal.”
That fits with SHIP’s goal to make physical activity, including biking, a part of daily routines for recreation, work or transportation.
‘A real community effort’
Many communities lack sidewalks, trails, bike paths and other infrastructure that support walking and bicycling. SHIP grantees, including Mower County SHIP, work with local partners to plan community projects that support active living.
By having the free bike share in the community, Studier said, she hopes to see Austin residents get in the habit of using them to make routine trips around the city and to take recreational rides. She believes this is will increase the well-being for those who ride.
We want to get people out on these bikes, riding for recreation and transportation. - Steve Kime, Vision 2020 chair
The donated bikes came in multiple speeds and a variety of styles, colors and designs – both men’s and women’s. They were broken down to the frame and rebuilt. They are all the same now – bright red, single-speed coaster bikes.
“This has been a real community effort,” Kime said. “Our local partners, Rydjor Bike and Riverland Community College, helped us. The bike shop took the bikes apart right down to their frames. Then the collision repair class painted the bikes the same, bright red color. After that they were all rebuilt.”