Located halfway between the St. Paul and East Bank campuses of the University of Minnesota, Como neighborhood is home to hundreds of students. And where there are students, there are bikes.
To accommodate all the two-wheeled traffic, the Southeast Como Neighborhood Improvement Association, in partnership with the U’s urban studies program and with support from an IonE Mini Grant, installed two bike tune-up stations in the neighborhood this spring.
“The Mini Grant funded two bike repair stations, and all the tools and events,” said Ricardo McCurley, SECIA’s executive director. “We also had five bike repair clinics with bike technicians talking about bike maintenance, and people got their bikes cleaned, greased up and adjusted. The last two were specifically to show off the stations and see how they work.”
It took a team of 20–25 U of M student interns and service learners, mostly from environmental studies, agriculture and horticulture, to get the job done. “These students seem to gravitate to SECIA,” says McCurley, who has enlisted University students for several past projects.
“SECIA has a strong relationship with the urban studies program. Each term we have students completing meaningful internships within their organization,” says Paula Pentel, coordinator of the U’s urban studies program. “Creating the bike repair stations was SECIA’s idea and I was their University contact. [The project] would not have been possible without IonE funding.”
The project enlisted the help of artist Marlaine Cox, a metalworker who lives in the neighborhood, to design and construct the attractive yet functional stations. One station has been permanently installed at the corner of 26th and Como avenues. Project organizers are awaiting permission from the Minneapolis Parks Department to install the second station in Van Cleve Park; the station currently is available for use inside the park rec center.
Anyone can use the repair stations, which are equiped with tools that can be used to do simple bike tune-ups, such as brake adjustments or tire inflation. “Our goals is to promote biking as a healthy lifestyle choice with environmental benefits,” says McCurley.