Midtown Bike Depot

On May 16th at 7:00 AM, the Midtown Bike Depot will officially be open for business. It’s a new bike shop / hipster hangout located along the Midtown Greenway near the Midtown Exchange Building. What’s unique about this new shop, is that it’s located at greenway level, which, for those of you unfamiliar with the midtown greenway, means it won’t be visible from any streets. In fact, it’s only accessible via bicycle. There is no parking lot, and no other way to access the space, other than from the midtown greenway.

According the City of Minneapolis CIP profile “services will include bike repair, storage, and rental, along with shower and bathroom amenities. Allina Hospitals & Clinics will own the facility and Freewheel Bicycle Shop will operate it.” And according to the Freewheel Bike press release, “It’ll be a place to stop for on-the-spot repairs, bike rentals, even order a favorite drink from the barista. The Midtown Bike Depot will also offer memberships and membership will have its privileges. Members will get discounts on parts, repairs, accessories and valet parking. The Depot will have a hundred or so parking spots for bicycles, and rather than stop and lock up your bike, you can hand it over and the staff will hang it up and watch it for you. However, membership isn’t required, and all riders will be able to use the center. Cyclists can meet for group rides, learn how to fix their bikes, and attend a spinning class. Unlike traditional bike shops, the Depot will be open during peak commuting hours. Riders will find an open door early in the morning on their way in to work and, in the evening, a shop ready to help them out as they head home.”

It sounds like a pretty good idea, but the more I think about it, the more I’m interested to see how it will turn out as an investment. According to the City of Minneapolis web page, “Funding for the center was made possible by the City of Minneapolis, a U.S. Federal grant, Hennepin County, Allina Health Systems, and Ryan Companies.” So it’s not exactly a private venture justified wholly on the basis of profitability.
The showers will be a very large benefit to those who work at nearby businesses, but that’s a fairly limited client base. Bicycle rental sounds like a good idea, too, but they will be competing with Penn Cycle, who already offers bicycle rentals and are located much closer to Lake Calhoun – a more likely destination for those who don’t own bicycles and one to rent one. The biggest challenge for this new bike shop, I believe, is that it is accessible ONLY by bicycle. It’s not useful at all to the sort of person who wants to load their broken bicycle onto their car and drive it to the bike shop for repairs. And with at least a dozen other bike shops located within about 2 miles of this location, I’m interested to learn who will prefer this shop over others. It will definitely be the closest bicycle shop to my house, however, so that’s a big benefit for me, though I don’t see myself buying a membership. The most useful part of the project, I expect, will be the free restrooms (which are not easy to find along the greenway). I am certainly the target audience, however, since I ride my bicycle past its front door at least twice a day (not to mention my frequent jogs along the greenway).
So I’m very excited for this new facility to open. I am, however, concerned that cyclists/customers will congregate in front of the building and clog up the greenway so that it’s difficult to ride past. I hope this doesn’t happen. Ok, I’ll see everyone there on Friday, May 16th at 7:00 AM for the grand opening.

3 comments to Midtown Bike Depot

  • Do you think at the grand opening they'll have that bike that you pedal to make your own smoothie? I'll come if they're going to have that. I'm glad to see the biking world given some positive attention- hopefully it all works out as well as they're hoping! Do you know if they'll keep it open year round?

  • Tara

    So did you take advantage of the free valet parking?

  • Yea, if there's pedal powered smoothies, you bet I'm gonna be there. Nothing is more tempting than a smoothie at 7:15 AM.

    The more I think about this shop, though, the more I'm pretty sure I will go there a lot – since I ride my bicycle literally 5 feet from their front door twice a day. It will be so convenient!