South Shore riders may soon have the option of renting bicycles at the Dunes
Park train station with one swipe of their credit card.
Details about the Swipe and Bike program were revealed during last week’s
Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission meeting by the
Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce which is in the first steps toward
moving the program along.
Chamber Executive Director Heather Ennis said she is hoping to launch the
program through a $100,000 reimbursable federal grant. However, one drawback
is the grant must be come through a government agency, leaving the program
teetered on its kickstand.
The grant would be able to fund three bike stations: the Dunes Park train
station, Indiana Dunes State Park, and the town of Chesterton. Once the
funding is in place, the Chamber would be able to purchase 15 bicycles
through the Trek Bicycles company.
Ennis said the plan could be instrumental in the Chamber’s mission of
getting more train riders to experience Duneland area while enhancing the
lives of local residents.
“Getting people into the parks and into the communities is challenging,” she
said. “It (Swipe and Bike Program) has good potential.”
More bike stations could be set up around the Duneland area in towns and
“hot spot” attractions such as the Bailly Homestead as the program grows,
said Ennis. She heard about the program nearly three years ago and learned
of it success in national cities such as Atlanta and Denver.
The Trek bikes, which can be operated by anyone ages 8 and over, are GPS
equipped which would allow the Chamber to track their position. The Chamber
hopes to have the program up and running sometime next year.
The PCCRVC board, also known as Indiana Dunes Tourism, said they liked the
idea of the Swipe and Bike program but tabled the Chamber’s request to act
as the conduit for the grant at their previous meeting, wondering if they
would be “on the hook” should something go wrong with the grant application
“I think we’d be the body that’s responsible,” said PCCRVC board attorney
The board agreed they would need to hear more details about the grant
application process and possibly sign a hold harmless agreement with the
Chamber at their next meeting scheduled for Aug. 16. The money for the
reimbursable grant would need to come from the county council if the board
Board member Michael Scott suggested “it would make more sense” for the
Chamber to seek out other governments like the town of Chesterton, Porter or
Ennis said she is considering going to the municipalities with her request
and is contemplating other funding sources. She said the Swipe and Bike
program isn’t a top priority on the Chamber’s wish list but thinks it would
be “a fun thing to have” tying in with all the Dunes trails and the upcoming
Indiana Dunes Tourism Executive Director Lorelei Weimer said the connecting
routes between the state park, the visitors center, the Prarie-Duneland
trail will be completed over the next two years.
Weimer said the program would give an added benefit to South Shore riders
wanting to explore the Dunes since they cannot bring their bikes with them
on the train.