• Mon September 01 2008
  • Posted Sep 1, 2008
Des Moines By JULI PROBASCO-SOWERS The bike rental program at Brenton Skating Plaza in downtown Des Moines cruised in low gear its first three weeks, but usage is expected to speed up as more people discover the service, officials said Saturday. "We've had anywhere from one or two people a day to as many as six," said Andrew Doyle, who works at Brenton Plaza on the weekends. "The road construction on Grand has not been helpful, but I think the more people hear about it, the better we'll do." This summer, Brenton Skating Plaza and Bike World teamed up to offer bicycle rentals as a way to draw more people downtown. The plaza at 520 Robert D. Ray Drive is an ice skating rink through the winter. Bike rentals will continue, weather permitting, until the ice skating begins in November. Rentals will resume in April or May. Sonja Jacobus of Des Moines rented a bicycle as soon as Brenton Plaza opened at 9 a.m. Saturday. Her son, Reilly, 11, and his friend Dylan Jordan, 10, also of Des Moines, both had bicycles, but Jacobus didn't. This was the second weekend in a row she has rented a bike. "The first time some friends of mine were going, and I decided to (go along)," she said. "My bike had conked out on me, so I thought I would just rent one for the day." On Saturday, she parked at the Botanical Center and rode along a trail to Gray's Lake Park along Fleur Drive and back. "We spent a little time at the lake and stopped at the Farmers Market (downtown) for a snack on the way back," Jacobus said. "I thought it was great. To have a place like this downtown is just awesome." One reason she rented the bike was to try out a specific style before she bought a new one, she said. Robbin McClelland, general manager for Brenton Skating Plaza, has been excited to see the variety of people using the service. "The youngest individual to rent a bicycle has been 18 and the oldest has been 83," she said. Recently two men, one from New York, who were staying at a downtown hotel, rented bikes for an hour after a business meeting "to clear their heads," McClelland said. She said people like the idea of having different styles of bicycles available and having access to so many different trails from downtown. Bill Throckmorton, who oversees the rental program for Bike World, said some people who rent bicycles are just in town for a short period of time and want to try some of the central Iowa trail network. Downtown Des Moines has become a hub for heading out on, and to, various trails, such as the Neal Smith Trail and getting to the Raccoon River Trail, which goes all the way to Jefferson.

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