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Biking is business

Biking may be a boon to business on a couple of fronts.

One as the lakes area brings in biking tourism, and another as employers consider the bottom-line benefits of healthy employees.

Earlier this week, Cragun’s hosted a PedalMN Bicycle Summit with panelists from land use, engineering, public health and business leaders.

“Bicycles connect people to businesses more efficiently and more often,” said Alison Dewey, a program manager at the League of American Bicyclists.

According to the League of American Bicyclists:

➤ Visitor frequency: 2/3 of pedestrians and bicyclists visited businesses five or more times a week versus 40 percent of drivers who did.

➤ Parking: 12 times more bikes than cars can fit in a parking coral

➤ Parking cost: Up to $150 for one bike parking space versus $15,000 for one structured parking spot.

➤ Jobs created: For every $1 spent on a bike project, it creates 1.5 times more jobs than a road project.

➤ Health savings for employers: Quality Bike Parts in Bloomington conducted a three-year study on employees who road bicycles to work. The company figured it saved 4.4 percent on health care costs, or $169,880, with the people who road bicycles.

Dewey said bicycle-friendly businesses are “popping up everywhere,” along with employers that encourage employees to ride bikes to work.

At the spring tourism summit at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, John Edman, the state’s tourism director with Explore Minnesota, said bicyclists bring tourism dollars to communities and partnerships in PedalMN bring in partners from public health, tourism and trails looking at everything from school routes to reducing obesity to scenic byways.

“There is a momentum about biking I just never envisioned,” Edman said.

Part of the effort is to showcase the state as a premiere biking destination.

Richard Polipnick, Visit Brainerd executive director, had so many requests for bike maps, he created a Brainerd and Baxter Biking Guide pamphlet with maps, routes, lodging and information on bike rentals, repairs along with dining options.

Pet North is closed in Baxter currently and the city of Baxter is taking the uncommon step of having a hearing to revoke Pet North’s conditional use permit.

The store was closed because of the building code following a crash where a vehicle drove through an exterior wall of the strip mall building by Grizzly’s where the store is located. Baxter officials said Pet North may request an extension but the business isn’t open because of safety issues related to the collision. The impact was so strong an interior wall moved. Baxter reported it sent two letters to Pet North. Calls to the store were unanswered Friday.

“This is not something we take lightly,” said Baxter City Administrator Gordon Heitke regarding revoking a conditional use permit (CUP). The city granted the CUP with conditions such as upgrading the ventilation equipment prior to animals taking residence and establishing a contract with a pest control company in case of need. The ventilation system wasn’t upgraded and animals were in the back of the store after the business moved to Baxter from its longstanding location next to Ace Hardware in Brainerd.

Jessica Larson, staff writer, contributed to this column.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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