• Sun August 17 2008
  • Posted Aug 17, 2008
By CYNTHIA REYNAUD Des Moines' first bicycle rental facility opened this week in an effort to draw more people downtown and specifically to the views along the Principal Riverwalk. Bike World and Brenton Skating Plaza have teamed up to offer bike rentals during the ice rink's off-season months. "Bike rentals on the Principal Riverwalk offer a great opportunity to explore downtown and the confluence of the river, as well as providing access to hundreds of miles of trails," said Mary O'Keefe, senior vice president of Principal Financial Group. "Brenton Skating Plaza is convenient and a terrific benefit for downtown workers and visitors alike." Rentals are available at the rink, 520 Robert D. Ray Drive, seven days a week, weather permitting, until the ice rink opens in November, said Robbin McClelland, general manager of the plaza. Next year, officials hope to start the service in April. Brenton Skating Plaza will provide the location and staff and Bike World will supply the bikes and maintenance. "Our goal here is to take a facility that is geographically perfectly located and utilize it in the summer months to provide a service," said Bill Throckmorton, marketing manager for Bike World. Currently, there are no other bike rental facilities in the metro area, Throckmorton said. Big Creek Marina in Polk City began offering bike rentals two years ago, said employee Alyson Gross. Last year, they rented out about 100 bikes and expect more each year, she said. "There's been more people interested in it lately," she said. Throckmorton said the Des Moines area is one of the best bicycling areas in the country per capita. "The interest in cycling is just amazingly great," he said. "Some of that is due to people just wanting to get out to exercise. Other people want to commute to work." Des Moines resident Dori Jansma said she thinks the rental program is a great way for people who are visiting to see a different side of Des Moines. Hundreds of miles of bike trails exist in central Iowa. Plans are in place to connect them all in the next few years, O'Keefe said. "This is an opportunity for people to familiarize themselves with the trails downtown," Jansma said. Bikes can be rented for hours, days or weeks and can be used for a variety of activities from leisure rides to races. "It opens up a whole new scope of activities and ideas," Throckmorton said.

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