Bike rental company pedals its way under 53rd street Metra tracks

The University invests in community and alternative transportation with 53rd Street bike rental.

By Marina Fang

As part of its efforts to revitalize East 53rd Street, University officials have unveiled plans for a bike center underneath the Metra viaduct at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue.

Scheduled to open in May, the 53rd Street Bike Center will be operated by a Chicago-based bike sharing company, Bike and Roll, which manages bike-sharing ventures around the city, including locations at Millennium Park and Navy Pier.

The University is leasing “approximately 2,000 feet of space” from the Metra to develop the bike center, according to University spokesperson Steve Kloehn. The space, formerly a cigar store, has been vacant for 15 years.

Hyde Park riders will be able to rent from a fleet of several dozen bicycles and return bikes to the Center and other Bike and Roll locations. Bike and Roll will also lead neighborhood and architectural tours and offer monthly memberships and storage space for at least 30 commuter bikes. Additionally, the Center will take part in the University’s Recycles bike share program, which currently has stations at Ratner Athletic Center, South Campus Residence Hall, the Regenstein Library, and IT Services.

According to Kloehn, the Office of Commercial Real Estate and the Office of Sustainability led the efforts to establish the Center. Also involved are University officials guiding the 53rd Street revitalization project, which has already brought Five Guys and Clarke’s to Hyde Park.

Kloehn said the University hopes that by allowing the Hyde Park community to use the bike center’s amenities, it will encourage more sustainable transportation. “The Center will help promote bicycle use among community members, by visitors and by commuters,” he wrote in an e-mail.

The bike center corresponds with the City of Chicago’s attempts to make Hyde Park more bike-friendly, according to the Hyde Park Herald. The Chicago Department of Transportation recently announced plans to add bike lanes to East 55th Street between Cottage Grove and Dorchester Avenues and buffered bike lanes from South Dorchester to Lake Park Avenues, the Herald said.