Here come the bikes!


By the time spring has sprung and your little feet are itching to dance around outside, you might have a free bike to ride. The City of Minneapolis is working on a plan to have public bike kiosks in Downtown, Uptown, and near the U.

Places like Barcelona, Leon, Paris, Montreal, and Washington D.C., have already experimented with public bike kiosks. But Minneapolis would be the biggest public bike program in the U.S., according to Bill Dossett, of the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation, the nonprofit group spearheading the project.

The plan is to have 75 kiosks that hold 1,000 bikes. It would work kind of like ZipCar; people sign up for the service online with a credit card, and get an electronic access card that they swipe at the kiosk to release a bike. If anyone is tempted to take their cute little bike home and never return it, their credit card gets charged. The city estimates charging a $250 fee, says Andrea Peterson, project coordinator in the city's Community Planning and Economic Development Department.

Dossett and the city are working on funding for the bikes and kiosks -- $3 million is needed. The City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation will own the bikes and kiosks.