become a pretty plugged-in place, so much so that it’s possible
for a bicyclist who knows how to travel from Michigan City to Porter (via
the Calumet Trail), then to Chesterton (via the Brickyard Trail), and
finally all the way to Hobart (via the Prairie Duneland Trail).
A day may come,
moreover, when the ambitious bicyclist will be able to pedal all the way
from Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes State Park to the Kankakee River near
Hebron (via the Duneland Kankakee Trail).
Here’s the problem,
though. What’s the bikeless out-of-towner to do, who’s passing through by
car or, say, by the South Shore, who might like to explore Duneland’s
growing network of trails but hasn’t the wheels for it? Or, for that matter,
hasn’t an acquaintance with the area.
Mark and Deana Lecy
believe they have a solution: a bike rental business--Pedal Power--operating
out of a trailer sited in the cul-de-sac at the Dorothy Buell Memorial
Visitor Center off Ind. 49. As they told the Porter Town Council at its
meeting last week, the folks at Indiana Dunes Tourism--otherwise known as
the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission--have given
the enterprise their blessing. They’ve also given the Lecys reason to think
that there’s definitely an interest in, if not yet a full-blown demand for,
a bike rental business at the Visitor Center.
But before going
any further, the Lecys--who between them bring 25 years’ experience in sales
and marketing to the table--need to secure a permit from the Town of Porter.
basics: Pedal Power would operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday though
Monday, June through October. The trailer--a self-contained, “completely
green” model running on solar power--would be permanently located in the
cul-de-sac for the duration of the six-month season. For now, the Lecys
would begin with 50 bikes of varying sorts, including hybrids, beach
cruisers, and tag-alongs, and rent them on a first-come/first-served
basis--or, for parties of eight or more, take reservations--completing
transactions and recording waivers on an iPad and holding customers’ credit
cards as collateral.
Customers would get
not only a bike, however, but also--and this is a key component of the Lecys’
business plan--a customized map of Duneland’s trail network, detailing the
safest routes from the Visitor Center through Porter, Chesterton, and
beyond, as well as highlighting popular attractions and businesses. The map
wouldn’t show all of the roads in Duneland, just the ones integrated with
the trail system and likely destinations.
“How do you get to
Porter and Chesterton safely from the Visitor Center?” Mark Lecy asked.
“There’s a way. It’s not perfect but it can be done. The map will show our
customers how to get to the European Market. And to Dog Days for an ice
cream cone. To Hawthorne Park. To Bailly and Chellberg at the National
Lakeshore. To Indiana Dunes State Park. It’s doable and it’s only going to
“The map will
change ever year,” Lecy added. “And we can cross-market with local
Development Michael Barry, for his part, endorsed the Lecys’ plan. “It’s a
way to drive traffic from the Visitor Center to Porter,” he said. “That’s a
positive thing for the town.
“Sounds like a good
plan,” concurred Member Bill Lopez. “Anything that will bring people into
accordingly agreed by consensus to encourage the Lecys to proceed with their
plans. Their next step: to present proof of insurance and apply for a