Getting to your destination by bike is easier than ever in Grand Rapids, Minn., thanks to a new community bike share. Just check out a bike at one of four locations around the city and take it to your next destination – free of charge. The program debuted in the fall of 2017, and the bikes traveled 240 miles in the first six weeks! Get Fit Itasca, the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grantee in Itasca County, coordinates the program and partnered with the city and local Rotary club to bring the bikes to town. The bikes are good for getting around and good for health – preliminary research shows bike shares lead to increased health and bike usage1.
Get Fit Itasca staff have been working in Itasca County since 2007 to make their communities more bikeable and walkable. They model pedestrian-only streets with an annual Open Streets event in downtown Grand Rapids and they encourage biking to work with an annual contest for businesses. They have built relationships with their local engineering departments and helped find funding for trail connections and other active living projects. Get Fit Itasca staff worked with Grand Rapids on its comprehensive plan passed in 2011, which prioritizes pedestrian and bicycle connections.
Grand Rapids is just one community making positive changes in the northeastern Minnesota SHIP region of Healthy Northland, which covers more than 22 percent of the state of Minnesota. In 2016-2017, 11 partners in Healthy Northland made changes to make physical activity easier and more accessible to all. These changes impacted 116,301 residents, more than a third of the population in Northeastern Minnesota.