There has been a lot of good news in the Minneapolis bike scene, lately. The city will be adding 40 miles of bikeways this year, Bicycle Magazine rated Mpls. the best bike city in the country, and we now have the cool bike-sharing program, Nice Ride. Nice Ride started off this Thursday with 700 bikes at 65 locations(I only count 40 stations, though). They do have plans for 1000 bikes!
Usage seems to be starting off slowly, but that's to be expected because it does take a little thinking ahead. You'd better know where you're going because trips over 30 minutes cost extra. The basics are that it's $5 a day, $60 for a year subscription. That's all it costs as long as you get to the next station in under 30 minutes, otherwise you'll pay extra. The reason for the short time period is that they want these bikes to always be available for others to use.
Even though I have plenty of bikes, I signed up for the year membership this week. I hadn't received my key yet, and I couldn't wait any longer, so I tried the day pass this Friday evening. I can now say that once you get the specifics down it's pretty easy. I spent couple hours zipping around town, making sure to switch bikes within a half hour. I've heard some people comment that the bikes don't look very fast, but not being a fast bike aficionado, I was pleased with the nice, comfortable ride. I can see myself using this on regular basis because it is convenient, especially if I don't want to worry about my bike after I get somewhere.
I see programs such as Nice Ride as just one more way to grow the bike community and increase the pressure to improve our bike infrastructure, which will make riding a bike, just like riding a bike. I'm very grateful to those people who made this a reality. It's one more element in a more livable city.