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Santa Monica Bike Center Rolls into Spring  

 

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

April 4, 2012 -- Less than six months after grabbing national headlines when it opened November 18, Santa Monica's $2 million, 5,300-square-foot bike center – the largest such facility in the country – is starting to boom as spring nears.

With a steady stream of visitors and locals renting bikes and with 130 members using its showers, lockers and 360 bicycle parking spaces, the Downtown facility is fast becoming the hub for cycling that the City intended it to be.

“It's a raging success,” said Bike Center Ron Durgin. “Every weekend draws a lot of visitors.”

The Bike Center, in the City parking structure at Second Street and Colorado Avenue, has drawn a steady crowd despite having opened dead in the middle of the off-season.

Now, four and a half months later, Durgin says the center has had to revamp its rental fleet, adding 100 new bikes, and, since February, has drawn an average of one new member a day.

Though and January were slow, with the coming spring, “people are dusting off their bikes,” Durgin said.

Back in December, a month after opening, the Bike Center had 25 members, he said. By spring, he had hoped to see that number swell to between 100 and 200.

He's hit his goal.

“It's a good mix of people,” said Durgin about those who have been signing up for the membership.

A full membership runs between $15 a month for the basic 24-hour access to secure, members-only bike parking and $50 a month, which includes a locker and shower access on top of the secure parking privileges.

The Bike Center also offers non-member parking during business hours.

Guests who want to leave their bikes at the valet get two free hours of bike parking, and each subsequent hour costs $1, with a daily maximum of $5.

Durgin is quick to point out, however, that the Bike Center is more than just a place to rent or park a bike. He and his crew are also working to reach out to the community about bike safety.

Each month, the bike center hosts bike maintenance classes that are open to the public – for $10 – and free for members.

“Proper maintenance is a huge part of bike safety,” said Durgin, adding that the next class is on April 15 from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Bike Center staff also visits local bike shops to offer commuter classes to interested bicyclists. At these classes, seasoned bicyclists talk about route planning, mapping tools, lighting, and weather preparedness, among other topics.

In addition, Durgin spends his Saturdays down at the bike campus – off of Ocean Park Boulvard, next to the beach bike path – offering bike skills lessons at the beachside obstacle course.

“We've been super busy,” Durgin said.

And with tourist season right around the corner, he doesn't expect things will slow down anytime soon.

 


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