Bike, Mobility and Visitors Center gets Chicago based operator

Cincinnati residents have one more reason to park their cars and enjoy the developing outdoor-friendly spaces along the Ohio River. This month, the Cincinnati Park Board announced that Chicago-based Bike and Park will operate the new Bike, Mobility and Visitors Center in Cincinnati Riverfront Park, an urban recreational area over ten years in the making.

In 1998, the Park Board created a master plan for a new park to be incorporated into the urban design plan for the riverfront. With the acceptance of that master plan, work began to find funding - federal, state, and local - to support the project and develop a park that would meet the needs of the Cincinnati community. Later plans for The Banks fully supported the Park Board's riverfront park as both a destination and a neighborhood park for future tenants and visitors.

"As the plan evolved, we wanted to include a bike center as this seemed an ideal use for the park," recalls Steve Schuckman, Superintendent of Planning and Design for Cincinnati Parks. With the park located on the Ohio to Erie and Ohio River trail systems, the bike center would be well-positioned to serve recreational cycling. The Park Board envisioned a place that rented bikes to families and visitors and also offered storage space and services for commuters cycling to work.

The McDonald's Cycle Center in Chicago's Millennium Park was a good model for what planners envisioned in Cincinnati. Located downtown, it encourages a greater acceptance of cycling to work among the business community by offering convenient services for commuters.

Cincinnati Riverfront Park's Bike, Mobility and Visitor Center will offer many of the same services when it opens in the fall of 2011. Tucked beneath the Walnut Street steps of a new garage, the Bike Center will have showers, lockers, bike repair and supplies and secure storage space for around 150 bicycles. Most of that storage space will be available for bicycle commuters.

'Rental bikes typically get displayed outside, so we don't plan to take much of the commuter racks," says Josh Squire, owner of Bike and Park. "We will not sell new bikes at the facility; we want to work with local bike shops. We will offer guided bike and Segway tours along the riverfront and also through some neighborhoods."

Like the McDonald's Cycle Center, which Bike and Park also staffs and operates, Squire plans for the riverfront Bike Center to be self-sustaining and generating revenue for the park from rentals, tours, and memberships. And the facilities aren't just for cyclists.

"Whether you're commuting downtown or running at lunch, you can use those showers," clarifies Schuckman. "Trying to make the city more sustainable [and healthy] is what the parks are all about."

Writer: Becky Johnson
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