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I hate those family rental bikes

I was longboarding to work today on the Lakewalk, riding on the paved section like I should, and I ended up behind a family riding those huge rental bikes. I yelled, “On your left!” and then continued to repeat it. They apparently never heard it, or didn’t care. I had to squeeze past them, and they ended up running into the fence because they freaked out. Their little girl started crying and said she couldn’t breathe and had a panic attack. I stopped and checked if they were all right, and they were.

I don’t believe those things should be used on the boardwalk. Actually, I don’t think they should exist in Canal Park at all. They are big, people don’t know how to correctly use them, and they just get in the way of bike/board/walking commuters.

Sorry if someone reading this owns the stand that rents these, or if you love them so much that you are offended by this, but I still hate them.

54 Comment(s)

  1. I hate longboards. Get a proper stuntwood or go home.

    The Opponent | Aug 17, 2010 | New Comment
  2. Those quad-surrey freaking things are the work of the devil. I’m sorry for the crash victims, but hopefully the vehicle was damaged beyond repair.

    The Big E | Aug 17, 2010 | New Comment
  3. Totally f**king agree.

    timespirit | Aug 17, 2010 | New Comment
  4. I couldn’t agree more. I actually had one of those contraptions yell at me for passing them without warning. No harm was done, yet they were still angry and upset. My experience has been that warning them leads to the type of thing you described.

    rij | Aug 17, 2010 | New Comment
  5. I hate stuntboards…get an old school dogtown ramp deck and keep the kiddie plank in the closet with the other toys.

    Just be thankful you didn’t get your ass kicked by a bunch of rednecks for boarding down the street.

    zra | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  6. Can’t we all just get along(board)?

    Swan | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  7. I find the best solution is to generally avoid the lakewalk during the summer. Most tourists are oblivious when on the lakewalk, whether they are riding a quad, or walking 6 abreast, or walking their wandering dog on a 20 foot leash. The ringing of a bike bell doesn’t register with most of the public, no matter how incessant or near them it happens to be. Others are so excitedly discussing the last episode of Survivor, that they don’t even hear you yell “on your left.”

    I say let them have the lakewalk, or expect to have to be patient. It could be argues that the only reason the lakewalk is there, and the only reason you are riding the lakewalk to Canal Park is because of the tourists. They may be irritating, but they are necessary.

    I would even go so far as to say we should strive to be ambassadors for the city in our actions and treat them politely, even though my first inclination is to buzz them at full clip while smacking them upside the head with one of those foam floatie tubes that has the words “GET A CLUE” painted on it.

    We should also be thankful for the regulars and the locals who get the system.

    That’s just my 15 cents, because two cents won’t buy you squat anymore.

    Elden | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  8. I use the lakewalk frequently to commute to work (by bike) in canal park. The huge four wheelers with the giddy families in them are certainly a “path” hazard to most people commuting or simply enjoying the lakewalk. But those laccidazical touristas riding those nuisances are alot of the reason why people can hold jobs in this great city of ours. As friendly locals we should be cautious and respectful of everyone utilizing our beautiful lakewalk. Take it easy, life’s better that way.

    Mike H | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  9. I think they should be required to where “Dopey Tourist” t-shirts when they ride those things.

    Danny | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  10. I think its fair to separate the specific odiousness of those four wheel pedal cars from the general inconvenience of tourists. If the pedal cars were banned from the lakewalk, the tourists would still come.

    Drifter | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  11. I used to commute to and from Canal Park on the lakewalk by bike too, and when they first introduced those, I thought it was a bad idea and was surprised it was approved by whoever approves such things. I certainly wouldn’t mind bike rentals, but those are so huge, they take up pretty much the whole path.

    brian | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  12. I don’t understand why people make such negative comments about tourists. I love to travel and I hope people treat me with respect when I travel to their towns.

    Whenever I noticed someone who is lost or wondering about a good place to eat or stay. I give them advice. I try not to give them advice on what I might like, but find out what they are looking for in food, a motel etc.

    There just people enjoying our town. Be nice.

    Hillsider Newspaper editor | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  13. Uhg. People are just venting a little and cracking a few “tourists suck” jokes. Lighten up.

    Danny | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  14. Tourists don’t suck. Vehicles that are inappropriately sized for the lakewalk suck.

    Drifter | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  15. Hmmm. Apparently I was wrong. Apparently this is a serious topic.

    Danny | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  16. Again, I see the “insider” vs outsider/tourist mentality. I live here and rarely use the lakewalk because of those of you who are completely arrogant and are speed freaks on bikes, roller blades and boards. You seem to think because you live here the town and the lakewalk belong to you. I see families on the Lakewalk smiling and having fun. That is what vacation is. Yesterday I saw one of those bikes with 5 white-haired grannies (maybe all sisters) having the time of their life. I gave them room to do their thing. Not everyone is able-bodied enough to roll around on a board.

    I see you boarders, bikers and roller bladers with grim expressions on your face, hating anyone who is in your way, and nearly smacking into people like me and others who are trying to walk. without being terrorized by your speed and your complete disregard for others.

    Get over the idea that tourists are in your way--they keep our town in business and we should be polite enough to welcome them. This is my rant, I have been storing it up for a few years now.

    Jude | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  17. Oh, and I don’t think the Lakewalk was designed as a highway for commuters, it is a recreational path. So use the streets for your commuting like you should be and traffic on the Lakewalk would be much more sane.

    Jude | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  18. Here is an post on last year’s Hillsider blog that I wrote…Someone had yelled at us….”You tourists!”…as if that was a bad thing.

    It was titled:
    This is why we live here: or I’m not tourist, I live in the Hillside!

    http://the-hillsider.blogspot.com/2009/07/this-is-why-we-live-here-or-im-not.html

    The evening of the Fourth was a beautiful evening. As we walked home some people up on an apartment roof near London Road and Superior were yelling something at us. Something about being tourists. I wanted to yell back, “I’m not tourist. I live in the Hillside!” Or “I’m not a tourist, but I play one on the weekends.”

    Weekends like this one is why we live in Duluth.

    Hillsider Newspaper editor | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  19. Bicycles always get the shaft in this town. This is a main reason why I’m leaving Duluth! The lakewalk extension (and the future cross-city trail) were built specifically so bike commuters could get through town quickly and efficiently. It’s like a bike highway. City engineering did this because they don’t want to put bike lanes or shoulders on Superior St or any of the one-ways (which would actually work better).

    Imagine if you were driving down I-35 and a 20-foot wide Zamboni taking up both lanes was petering down the highway at 5mph and made you come to almost a complete stop. Wouldn’t you be agitated? That’s exactly what many Duluthians have to deal with every day!

    HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO:
    Email Cindy Voigt (city engineer) and tell her that there should be bike lanes or shoulders on Superior St, because the Lakewalk is too impractical to ride on. Her email is:
    cvoigt@duluthmn.gov

    You can also email your city councilors and tell them that those pedal-cars take up the entire lakewalk and they should be restricted to a certain area where they won’t impede commuters. Their website is this:
    http://www.duluthmn.gov/clerk/council/ccmembers.cfm

    Bitching on this website won’t change anything! Take the energy that you were going to use to type your next post and email your city officials instead… that’s what they’re there for! Let them know how the citizens of Duluth feel!

    Codie | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  20. I agree with Jude, the speed freaks are just as dangerous (perhaps more) than those stupid pedal cars. A speeding biker yelled at me and gave me the stink eye because my dog walked a little more towards the center of the Lakewalk as the biker zipped past. I’m sorry I don’t have dog ESP and could not tell my dog might actually not walk in a perfectly straight line 100% of the time on the Lakewalk. God forbid.

    The worst though?? People that insist on walking 3-4 people across blocking the whole Lakewalk and REFUSE to make room even though they see me coming…and these are probably not tourists, as I run early morning weekdays during the Spring and Fall (I too avoid the Lakewalk during tourist season). I have just started to keep my head down, avoid eye contact, and run in a straight line on my side of the Lakewalk…just to see what happens. I don’t get why it’s so confusing…do these people drive on the left side of the road too when the right side gets too busy and expect oncoming traffic to drive off the road to make way??

    PL | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  21. Lots of strong feelings about boards, rollerblades, bicycles, tourists, urban planning, and so on that would make interesting discussions, but they’re off topic.

    I agree with Drifter. This isn’t about tourists. It’s about what kinds of transportation should be permitted on the Lakewalk. Is there any disagreement about the four wheeled behemoths? They’re unsafe, and mess up the flow of traffic. Recreational or not, this is still a piece of transportation infrastructure that needs to be kept safe and efficient.

    Roger | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  22. If longboards were legal to ride on the streets just like bikes are, I’d be doing it. Unfortunately, people who skateboard and do tricks are the ones who set the image for skateboards of all shapes and sizes for the city. Apparently they get in the way, harass tourists, and are a hazard to the city’s image. I wish somehow I could get it passed that longboarders could skate in the street, if we followed the flow of traffic, kept up a decent speed, and followed the traffic lights and stop signs. Until then, I have to take every back road and sidewalk I can find, and the Lakewalk is the only way I can get from London Rd. to Canal Park.

    Leblancness | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  23. It is not people on bikes, boards, skates, tricycles, pogo sticks or tennis shoes. It is just the dumb asses on them who don’t know where they end and the rest of the world begins. I’ve given up biking on the lakewalk as it is just no fun. Too many people either don’t know what “on the left” means or don’t know their left from their right or just don’t care. I do think the 4 wheel bikes are oversized for the lake walk. I also think there could be a healthy (polite I hope) discussion of the concept of private parties using the public spaces for private profit. As in the folks renting the bikes are making a profit at the expense of the rest of the public that are using the lakewalk. Do they buy a special permit with the money going back to the public to maintain the resource? Not to single out the 4 wheel bike rental, you could extrapolate the same about Grandmas Marathon where in the entire city is inconvenienced for the profit of a few. You can blabb about that extra taxes collected etc. but for the most part it is a major pain in the ass for anyone not involved and no matter how you slice it it does not put an extra dime in my pocket. Just a thought (long winded though it may be).

    W.T.F | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  24. I think it’s totally appropriate to rent out regular one-person bikes to the tourists for use on the Lakewalk. That’s done all over the place. It seems that the City Council could pass a resolution banning use of 4 person bikes on the Lakewalk due to them being too large of a vehicle for the path and therefore endangering the public. If they can pass things regarding rental properties and banning strip clubs the bike issue should be an easy one!

    Gary | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  25. Cody Says:
    The lakewalk extension (and the future cross-city trail) were built specifically so bike commuters could get through town quickly and efficiently. It’s like a bike highway.

    Is that correct? Then why didn’t they name it the Lakebike? I have a hard time believing the lakewalk was built “specifically for bike commuters” or that it is a “bike highway.” Although with that mind set it is easier for me to understand that the majority of bike rage bikers I see racing and weaving through us pedestrians think the rest of us have no business enjoying our vacation/leisure/fun/dog walking, etc there.

    It’s very uncomfortable to have bikers/boarders run nearly up my backside or holler at me or race by me. I see this same bad behavior on the part of bikers on the streets. I wish there were a bike patrol like in some towns. Hopefully, Duluth will get a volunteer force of uniformed volunteer bikers out on the Lakewalk to police it. That would help everyone. Because it clearly is becoming more of a hazard to be out there walking than it is a pleasure.

    Jude | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  26. Overweight Dorky tourists on four wheeled bikes. Do they know what they look like? I would find it embarrassing to ride such a thing. Ban them.

    Wes Scott | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  27. Skateboarding was banned because they swear and scare old people.

    It’s not the surreys — many folks just don’t know how to fucking drive.

    Adam | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  28. Jude, sorry for being unclear. The new lakewalk extension (east of 17th Ave E) and the Cross City Trail (west of Canal Park) are intended to be used for bike commuters. The existing Lakewalk wasn’t originally built as such. However, according to the city’s bike route system (LINK), the only designated bike route between Mesaba and 10th Ave E below 4th Street is the Lakewalk. It’s even labeled as a path specifically for bikes.

    Bicyclists don’t make it a goal to harass people on the Lakewalk… we’re just trying to get to our destination without having to go 5mph (which is why they have the boardwalk for pedestrians).

    Codie | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  29. Elden, Mike H and Drifter have the right idea here. Tourists can be an inconvenience, but they’re a key element of such economy as we have here, and I don’t have anything against people out enjoying the beautiful surroundings--I could be mistaken for one of them often enough. That said, the “surreys” are too big for the path. Ban them, sell them for scrap. End of that story.

    On people riding (too?) fast on the Lakewalk though: I ride my bike as fast as I can [1] on the streets, and more so the nicely paved, barely traveled rural roads north and east of town. I really like the Lakewalk extension, because it allows me to ride with my (little) kids down to Canal Park and/or Park Point with a minimum of worry. But once we pass Leif Ericson park, I have no illusions about getting anywhere fast. If you’re in a rush, cross over to Superior or First, bomb downtown. Easy. That doesn’t get Lakewalk pedestrians completely off the hook, mind you--letting your dog stretch his/her retract-o-leash into a 20′ clothesline, walking obliviously 8 abreast, etc… that’s not very neighborly. I wonder if continuing the green center stripe that adorns a portion of the Lakewalk might help in that regard. Perhaps that’s overoptimistic.

    Codie does point to a real potential issue. Once the Lakewalk extension is completed, and in the future the cross-city trail, a subset of our finest local motorists are going to be even more bitter and moronic than they already are at losing precious seconds of their lives to having to avoid me riding my bike on Superior Street. You and I would probably agree that somebody going 20 mph has no business being on a fairly narrow path with a gratifyingly large number of dogs, children, walkers, etc. But the guy who honked repeatedly at me for waiting to turn left on Lester River Road yesterday, and those like him, are going to be tied up in knots. This is potentially problematic.

    [1] Which, sadly, isn’t that fast.

    The Big E | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  30. For me, this issue is about being aware and respectful of one’s surroundings. It is completely irritating when people assume that their needs/wants are all that matters, and are oblivious to what is going on around them. When I’m using the lakewalk (either biking or walking) I’m always seeing who’s ahead of me and checking behind me as well. I watch out for kids, dogs, bikers, and of course the dreaded 4 wheeled bikes. Tourist or not, the lakewalk isn’t very wide and we all need to make room for each other. Which brings me to my next point- that those 4 wheeled bikes don’t make great use of space on the lakewalk. Too many times I’ve come to a “screaching” halt behind one (yes, I was walking!)

    I find it sad that many Duluthians stay away from the lakewalk in the summer because the tourists have taken over- doesn’t seem fair.

    watergirl | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  31. This is the most adorable argument ever. Long live Duluth.

    Cando | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  32. I’ve lived in this fair town all my life. Before I could drive, my bike was the only way to get to Canal Park or the beach from the East End and the Lakewalk is the only route my mother would let me use because Superior Street and other routes don’t really guarantee biker safety. Not the point however. The point is these goofy over sized tanks that mow over the “wheel lane” as I’ve always known it. And yes we can say “Leave them alone, they are just harmless tourists” but I’m afraid that’s a slight red herring because not every tourist selects bike-tanks as their first choice of travel on the lakewalk. It’s seems not to only do natives gripe over these bears but also tourists. Just the other day, I overheard a tourist from Kansas complain about the four wheeled killer almost flattening him. I was also taking pictures next to him and told him eventually you become pretty skilled at dodging. He commented how unfortunate it was he had to be on the look out all the time. The problem is not the tourists (though many seem not to obey the distance regulations they are supposed to take the Army regulation combat vehicles. I believe they are only supposed to go to the railroad crossing on the path up to Fitger’s), it’s the fact that the things are just too dang big. Leblancness is my best friend and we’ve been down this road before (literally and figuratively). As nice they are for a handful of tourists, it isn’t worth the hassle to have the dang things on the walk for natives and tourists alike. The concrete part of the boardwalk isn’t wide enough to fit anything larger than a bike.

    Keith Sprinkles | Aug 18, 2010 | New Comment
  33. What I hear in this dialogue are arguments for and against speed on the Lakewalk. People on vacation are about S-L-O-W and slowing down. I love to see that in our frantic world. Those of you who are trying to get to work in record time are about speed. The two do not mix on one narrow path.

    As soon as we ban the big wheelers, I feel certain you will start complaining about strollers, wheelchairs, etc. You already don’t want dogs there. People with dogs on the LW seem to me to be pretty respectful, unless I consider those few who do not use pooch bags.

    But of course, if I am going 20 mph (or way faster) and that dog moves one foot in the wrong direction it will cause a speedster on a bike to have to make adjustments and that seems to me to be what bikers do not want—anything that requires you to make room for anybody else. In other words anybody who is not going your speed is going to block your destination in some way. I ride bike too, but not on the LW after seeing how the speedsters about take off my back wheel zooming by me. And yes, that is too bad for me, but lots worse for tourists who go home with a negative opinion of our LW because they didn’t feel safe or welcome to use it.

    Jude | Aug 19, 2010 | New Comment
  34. This is why I never travel east of the Duluth Grill.

    Barrett Chase | Aug 19, 2010 | New Comment
  35. I”m glad so many people hate those goddam bikes as much as I do. Somebody is going to get seriously hurt by a foursome that doesn’t know how to drive those infernal machines.

    rykwon | Aug 19, 2010 | New Comment
  36. My spouse got chewed out the other day by a dude in a huge Cadillac because he was riding his bike on Superior Street in Lakeside. The guy nearly ran him off the road so he could keep yelling out his window, “Use the bike path!”

    My spouse explained politely, “I’m going too fast for the bike path.”

    “In yer dreams!” the car guy snarled, pinning my pal’s bike between his Cadillac and parked cars.

    My experience, again and again, is that no matter how carefully we follow the rules, use signals, ride safely, stop at stop signs, etc., etc., Duluth is a bike-hostile town.

    I guess I’m off-topic. I’m nice to tourists, even tourists on surreys, but the surreys are a dumb idea on the narrow Lakewalk.

    bluenewt | Aug 19, 2010 | New Comment
  37. What I love about some of the battles on issues on PDD is their often insular nature. Meaning, people get excited, depressed about people bitching about where they live. As if only Duluthians complain about stuff. We all know that’s not the case, and PDD only happens to be what I’d call a constructive outlet for observances and “If I hadda’s”.

    This post reminds me of living in New York and constantly hearing natives bitch about how tourists clog up the sidewalks with the gawking and the famous Midwestern “four abreast” gauntlets. And everything they were in angst about was vividly true if you stopped and took notice. I had empathy, but not much, for New Yorkers hardly deserve such coddling, but I learned that we do walk different from them. And they walk in a fashion in response to that. There is an art to navigating NYC streets and I picked it up pretty well.I learned this upon returning from New York and having so many MN natives ask me “where’s the fire” as I successfully navigated the shuffling masses at places like the State Fair or other cheek and jowl events. Five years hence, I still have little patience for those who have little awareness on how they are affecting the flow on a public thoroughfare. Really, that’s all that’s needed, a little less “me” and a lot more “us.”

    spy1 | Aug 19, 2010 | New Comment
  38. Funny and pertinent.

    chadp | Aug 19, 2010 | New Comment
  39. There was a story in the DNT about the Surrey issue on the Lakewalk in 2005 or 2006. And as I was one of the interviewed I had heard then that these quads could go no further than the big bend or elbow on the lakewalk. Guess that’s not the case. The lakewalk only seems to be suitable for cyclists before 9 a.m. And I agree with several of you that Duluth is simply not a bicycle friendly town. Guess these old narrow streets, climate and geology are simply too much for motorists to contend with in the first place, let alone bicyclists. Hence I ride dirt, and go the long way around.

    woodtick | Aug 19, 2010 | New Comment
  40. July 26, 2005
    Author: Katy Stech/News Tribune Staff Writer

    Wheel Fun Rentals manager Christy King calmly relayed instructions to a family of four about to embark on the Lakewalk in a rented surrey .

    “And remember, pedestrians always have the right of way,” she concluded.

    “Yeah, right,” said one rider, jokingly.

    For the second summer, Wheel Fun Rentals has equipped tourists and locals with rentable wheeled objects, ranging from the slow, family-sized surreys to quick, single-seater bikes.

    People’s reaction to the wheeled rentals, though, has also ranged widely. Some say the rentals challenge pedestrians’ right of way and block inline skaters’ and bikers’ path.

    For others, the wheeled rentals add to Duluth’s tourism income and the enjoyment that families can have along Lake Superior.

    “They’re a pain for people who want to just come down here and relax,” said Roger Stalvig, owner of Bayfront Carriages.

    Stalvig has watched Canal Park change over the past15 years, in both the number of tourists and number of businesses for tourists.

    Wheel Fun Rentals owner Rodney Knight says his business helps bring more tourism money to the city.

    “Duluth is very much a tourist area, and the bikes keep people another hour so they can shop a little more or eat again,” Knight said.

    On the stretch of Lakewalk from downtown to the bridge, the rentals share the paved section with bikers, rollerbladers, families with strollers and fast-moving pedestrians.

    Sebastian Salgodo of Duluth, who walks on the boardwalk several times a week, says he prefers to walk on the pavement on crowded afternoons.

    “When you walk as fast as me, you get tired of saying `excuse me,’ ” he said.

    Salgodo says that some people on the rentals are disrespectful to walkers.

    Some other locals agree that the surreys take up too much space and are difficult to pass.

    During the summer, Grady Larimer of Duluth bikes to work several times a week using the Lakewalk because it’s safer than biking on downtown’s busy streets.

    “The pavement is for wheels, but it’s too narrow for them,” Larimer said of the tourist toys.

    Some city officials support the surreys , though, saying that they slow down speedy bikes and rollerbladers.

    “There were a lot of people who complained about fast bikes and fast rollerbladers before, too,” said Duluth Police Lt. Patricia Behning, who monitors the downtown area.

    Closer to the lift bridge, the marked divide between walkers and wheelers becomes less clear as the pavement and boardwalk converge into one sidewalk.

    And on the pier, the common pavement gives little direction to walkers and wheelers about which lane to take.

    “This is a place for people to be leisure,” said Wendy Lacska of Hudson, Wis. “And to have to dodge the people who are using this as a raceway . . .”

    Lacska stopped to eye three teenage boys as they raced small rental bikes down the pier.

    “This,” she said, pointing to the riders, “this is not a good situation.”

    The surreys are quiet contraptions and can easily sneak up behind people.

    “It’s the surprise factor,” said Thom Holden, director of the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center. “It’s hardest on older people because they can be so quick and quiet.”

    LIMITED ROUTE

    Riders are told not to travel further east than Endion Station, staying only on the pavement. The riders can also use the pavement to get to the bridge, where they can pedal from the end of the pier to the Minnesota Slip Bridge.

    Each surrey is equipped with a map of Canal Park, which the business added in response to complaints of stray surreys last summer.

    The business also has responded to other complaints. Last week, employees removed bells from the rentals because their use offended some nonriders, Knight said.

    Knight owns five Wheel Fun Rental businesses throughout Minnesota. About 90 Wheel Fun Rentals businesses operate nationally, mostly in touristy places such as the Carolina Beach boardwalk in North Carolina and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

    POPULAR WITH TOURISTS

    In Canal Park, Wheel Fun Rentals is the first business of its kind in the area.

    “The product they offer is really great,” said Scott Miller, owner of Word Processing in the Dewitt-Seitz building. “Just look at the Lakewalk and how popular they are for tourists.”

    At least 75 percent of riders are tourists, King said. And some tourists who rode last summer came back for a second ride, she said.

    Mike Shupe of St. James, Minn., said he would rent out a surrey again if he had the chance.

    He and his family watched a ship come into the harbor from the surrey that they rented during their stay in Duluth last week.

    “It was nice and relaxing,” Shupe said. “You can go at your own pace.”

    FEW COMPLAINTS

    Carl Seehus, the director of Parks and Recreation, said he hasn’t received any complaints so far this year about Wheel Fun Rentals.

    “From that point, we have to assume that things are going fairly well,” Seehus said.

    Last summer, Parks and Rec received a number of complaints, Seehus said, but he didn’t keep a record of them because they were over the phone. The department only documents complaints that are in writing.

    Last year’s complaints prompted a meeting between department officials and Knight to develop a moredefined travel route.

    WAYWARD RIDERS

    Some, though, say they regularly find the rentals in areas where they’re not supposed to be.

    Karen Hoover, who works at Hoovies Popcorn Wagon, said she sees them riding in the parking lots and streets.

    And Larimer said he sees the rentals beyond the Endion Station at least twice a week, riding as far as Fitgers Brewery Complex.

    “I come here to see this wonderful place, but it takes away from the feel of it,” said Yanchy Lacska of Hudson, Wis.

    He compared surreys to Jet Skis, saying that they both look like fun but they don’t complement the surrounding areas.

    “It’s a shame because the Lakewalk is such a blessing,” Salgodo said. “We can show it’s a blessing by properly managing it.”

    spy1 | Aug 19, 2010 | New Comment
  41. 2004 DNT clip:

    Hoping to capitalize on people whose need for speed lags behind their quick impulse for casual family fun, a novelty rental business has opened in Canal Park.

    Rodney Knight of St. Cloud opened Wheel Fun Rentals June 3 after paying $20,000 for Minnesota franchise rights. Despite some initial bad weather, the business had a brisk start, with 125 rentals last Sunday.

    Wheel Fun Rentals has a fleet of 25 novelty bikes, including 15 single and double surreys . The single surreys can seat three people and two children while the doubles can seat as many as six adults and two kids. Knight hopes to rent 50 to 70 bikes daily and 125 to 150 on weekends.

    Customer safety is a top priority.

    “They’re for people out on a casual stroll,” Knight said. “They’re meant to go slow.”

    Each user is given safety instructions. To steer the surreys and deuce coupes, the driver must be at least 16. The age minimum to rent bikes is 18.

    The sturdy surreys , which can gently bump over a curb, are equipped with bells. Knight said he intends to install rearview mirrors on the bikes in the coming weeks so drivers can know when speedier bikers and in-line skaters are approaching. Staff members occasionally patrol the Lakewalk to ensure renters stay on the correct path and give other path users enough room.

    “We tell customers to stay out of the street,” Knight said. “We don’t want liability issues or to give police extra work.”

    There has been some concern about potential congestion on the Lakewalk , said Julene Boe, Duluth Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman.

    “Any time you have a difference in speed, you have issues,” she said. “There are so many users down there. There’s a lot of competition for space.”

    City spokesman Jeff Pappas said one complaint has been lodged, to which there so far has not been a formal response. Whether specialty bikes are a proper use of the Lakewalk is still being evaluated.

    Canal Park Business Association president Kathleen Pattison said that after a tough winter, the surreys , slingshots and other bikes will be a welcome addition to the business mix. She was optimistic about a good summer season for Canal Park businesses, despite uncertainty about tourist travel and gas prices.

    “I think that anything that improves flow and customers and makes them happy is good for Canal Park,” Pattison said.

    The street-legal bikes have only one gear. They weigh as much as 250 pounds for the double surreys and generally reach a maximum speed of 5 mph. Most riders pedal around for about 45 minutes, Knight said. Customers are instructed not to go beyond Fitger’s on the Lakewalk and to stay off streets.

    Knight plans to stay open through September. His customer mix during the first two weeks of operation have been dominated by families, senior citizens and college-age women.

    His stall is located behind Burger King, where he also has kids’ bikes and mountain bikes for rent. The business is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, weather permitting.

    Other businesses that recently have opened or expect to open this weekend are:

    Karessamia, a new art gallery specializing in postmodern paintings, sculpture and unusual art, is located in the Antique Mall. Gallery partners Sue Hammond and Karess Pastore moved up from the Twin Cities. Their 825-square-foot gallery, which opened June 5, aims to offer an eclectic combination of paintings, furniture and clothing from artists and designers from throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and the rest of the country. It also serves as a gallery for Karess, who works in various media. Karessamia opens at 11 a.m., 7 days a week.

    spy1 | Aug 19, 2010 | New Comment
  42. The most shocking thing about those articles is that I learned they are called surreys…I never knew.

    keith sprinkles | Aug 20, 2010 | New Comment
  43. LeBlancness,

    Why do you hate families and little kids?

    Bob | Aug 21, 2010 | New Comment
  44. Our little kids know to steer way clear of them.

    The Big E | Aug 21, 2010 | New Comment
  45. I remember when that News Tribune article ran in 2004. What struck me as really funny at the time was that the owner claimed they’d insist that drivers of the surreys be 16. But the article ran along with a photo of a family in a surrey being driven by a kid who was way under 16. Eleven, if I remember the caption right.

    bluenewt | Aug 22, 2010 | New Comment
  46. I walked to work on the lakewalk to go to work in Canal Park (a huge shortcut). Bikers are okay, skateboarders, rollerbladers, but the path is TOO small to accommodate those huge 4-wheel bikes. Every afternoon I was almost run down by one of those things. I always felt for the little 12-year-old kids pedaling while their fat mom just sat there like a oaf.

    I no longer live in Duluth, but to anyone that cares I recommend sending a physical letter to your own councilman, the one responsible for Canal Park, and also to Don Ness.

    So, put it in writing, be nice, concise and make your opinion known.

    mevdev | Aug 25, 2010 | New Comment
  47. I inline skate on the lakewalk nearly every day March through December and like to think of myself as very respectful to the users of the lakewalk. I always try to announce myself as I near surreys, strollers, old folks, slow bikers, runners with headsets, dogs on leashes, those half asleep etc. I do get tired of saying “on your left” but it beats taking a tumble. I find the biggest inconveniences to be those half-asleep runners with headsets and dogs on leashes being walked by those half asleep. The surreys are a minor inconvenience, and as I pass them I always say “enjoy your time in Duluth.”

    jay | Sep 6, 2010 | New Comment
  48. I can’t believe some of the reactions out of Duluth to the surreys. I have worked for 2 years as customer service for Rodney Knight, and rarely hear a comment or complaint. I guess only people hiding behind computer screens really express their hatred for family entertainment.

    Nick | Dec 7, 2010 | New Comment
  49. Well, once the snow melts and the stand opens back up, I’ll have to swing down and drop off a comment card.

    LeBlancness | Dec 7, 2010 | New Comment
  50. “Family entertainment” doesn’t usually involve driving over other people (unless it’s monster trucks).

    Bad Cat! | Dec 7, 2010 | New Comment
  51. And for the record, Duluth doesn’t hate families or family entertainment. We have a lot of beautiful areas in our city that everyone likes to get out and enjoy (walkers, skateboarders, bikers, etc.). Despite the large groups of people using different modes of transportation, everything still flows without incident because people know how to be respectful and aware of others. No one hates the surry bikes, it’s an annoyance when the surry bike drivers lack common-sense and/or basic knowlege of biking skills.
    There’s no way to prevent all idiocy that happens, but maybe a friendly “Remember, keep right!” sign on the bikes would make a huge difference.

    Also, way to represent your business. You should be addressing concerns and promoting your business, not sniping at people with valid concerns. Customer service fail!

    Bad Cat! | Dec 7, 2010 | New Comment
  52. And Duluth hates skateboarders.

    adam | Dec 7, 2010 | New Comment
  53. How about you start renting them in the Mall? That would be great!

    @Nick-I am not hiding behind a screen, see that picture down there? That’s me! And my name right next to it … wow.

    Those bikes are the wrong size for the venue provided, don’t get so defensive, it’s not like you designed them or anything … right?

    @Adam-is that why Freestyle had to close?

    B-man | Dec 7, 2010 | New Comment
  54. And yes, B-Man’s goat is just that righteous.

    zra | Dec 8, 2010 | New Comment

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