Monday, August 8, 2011

Bloomington Community Bike Project coming to McDoel Gardens Switchyard

(from HT online, August 8, 2011.

Completing a bridge isn’t the only work being done at the old McDoel switchyard off Grimes Lane. City workers also are busy cleaning out the former switchyard office to get ready for new occupants.

Mick Renneisen, director of the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, said part of the building will be used to store an all-terrain vehicle that the Bloomington Police Department will use to patrol the old railyard property. The rest of the space will become a second home for the Bloomington Community Bike Project, an all-volunteer organization that has promoted bicycling and sustainable transportation for many years from a tiny shop at Seventh and Madison streets.

Michael Lindeau, a spokesman for the group, said the addition of a second location will relieve cramped conditions at the downtown location while increasing the group’s visibility in the community.

Bike project volunteers work on donated bikes and pass their knowledge onto others. The group also refurbishes bicycles for sale to the public at a discount price.

Lindeau said the current shop has about 200 square feet of indoor space for bike repair and maintenance, which is why so much activity now seems to take place outside the building. He estimated the group’s part of the railyard building could provide as much as 800 square feet of working area.

“We’re really in a space crunch and have been for a long time,” he said.

Though the digs will be roomier, Lindeau said the group’s core mission will be unchanged: providing mentors for people to learn how to use specialized tools to repair and maintain their bicycles. He said the additional space also will allow the group to offer information about other bicycle services and shops in Bloomington, as well as advocacy for sustainable transportation in general.

Steve Cotter, natural resources manager for parks and recreation, said a use agreement for the railyard building should be ready for the next parks board meeting on Aug. 23. He said the department actively sought a partnership with the group in order to promote bicycling in Bloomington.

“We’re hoping this effort will help move along Bloomington’s attempt to be a platinum-level bicycle community,” he said.

Lindeau said the Bicycle Project intends to have its new shop set up in time for the B-Line Trail completion celebration Sept. 8.

It will be open initially on Saturdays and Sundays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with its volunteer staff ready to offer advice and assistance to people using the trail.

Copyright: 2011

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