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Thanks to the Bemidji Downtown Development Authority, two new bike racks in the shapes of pine trees have been added along Beltrami Avenue. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Tree-shaped bike racks to serve as nesting spot for local cyclists

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BEMIDJI — Pine trees have been sprouting on Beltrami Avenue, but they’re a bit more durable than the kind of saplings you worry about deer nibbling as a snack.

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The curious new objects taking root are actually green, tree-shaped metal bike racks meant to encourage cycling in Bemidji. The Downtown Development Authority is sponsoring their construction, a Bagley High School welding class helped put them together and the Bemidji Occupational Development Center put on the finishing touches using powder coating.

Denise Koenigsberg, DDA member and a project supporter, said there have long been efforts to foster bicycling downtown but this time it was felt that a snappier, more engaging solution would work better. Thus, the green trees were born.

One tree rack is on the corner of Beltrami Avenue and Fifth Street, the other a block over at Beltrami and Fourth, Koenigsberg said. Six bikes can fit per rack and the project has the materials for 12 racks, for a total of 72 bikes that can be housed once the project is finished, she said.

"We’re trying to find locations for the rest of the racks," she said. "We want to sprinkle them around downtown."

The bike rack project’s origins can be traced back to the DDA Parking Committee. DDA vice president Michael Headlee said part of the rationale behind the racks is to alleviate a shortage of automobile parking space by making it easier for people to use bikes as an alternative to cars downtown.

"Until parking ramps and other future solutions are in place, just freeing up a few spots makes a big difference in a busy downtown," he said.

Koenigsberg welcomed ideas or suggestions for the project, which can be sent via the DDA’s website at

www.bemidjidda.com

.

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