Bike lockers now in downtown Hobart
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent May 10, 2013 1:04PM
Updated: June 13, 2013 5:52PM
HOBART — In an effort to make the downtown area more bike rider-friendly, the city has installed bike lockers in two areas where people should have no worries about their bike’s safety — by the police station and city hall.
Director of Development Denarie Kane said the city purchased 12 bike lockers at a cost of $20,100, 100 percent of which will be reimbursed through a grant from Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission through its Rack ’Em Up program once the lockers are inspected by Mitch Barloga, NIRPC’s nonmotorized transportation and greenways planner.
She said eight were installed at the police/court/community complex at 705 E. 4th St. and four at city hall at 414 Main St. She said there also are bike racks in the downtown area.
Kane said the city’s Redevelopment Commission is paying for the concrete pads to put the lockers on and she, and city employees George Luke and Deb Scurlock, assembled them.
Kane said city officials encourage people to ride their bicycles downtown. If they have expensive bikes and aren’t comfortable putting them in a rack while they visit downtown stores or sites, she said the lockers offer a more secure alternative.
The bikes fit inside the locker, which are secured by the biker’s own padlock.
She said the lockers are free and people don’t need to register to use them.
“We’re trying to capitalize on our assets,” Kane said. “We have the (Oak Savannah) bike trail going through Hobart and Lake George, all of which add to the ambiance of downtown.
“If people get on the trail in Griffith and want to stop in Hobart to look at the lake or stop and eat before going on to the dunes, they can do so without worrying about their bike,” she said.
She said the RDC wanted to be involved in the project because it’s interested in making the downtown a friendly place to shop.
Barloga said the city of Valparaiso also purchased bike lockers through the grant program, which is now closed. He said Valparaiso installed its lockers by the Chicago Dash, which transports commuters to Chicago.
Barloga said NIRPC encourages people to bicycle around the region and wants them to know there will be a safe and secure place to store their bike when they get to their destination.
He said the lockers are especially popular in large cities and near public transit.
“They’re highly secure and safe. Out of sight, out of mind,” Barloga said.
In Hobart, the only stipulation with the lockers is that people don’t use them for more than 24 hours at a time.
“We don’t want people to store things in them,” Kane said.
She said there will be signs indicating if items are stored in the locker longer than 24 hours, the city reserves the right to cut the lock.
Barloga said about 500 bike racks also were distributed through the grant program over the last few years.
He said he hopes to reopen the grant program with a new round of funding soon.