Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Really Nice Ride: Bike-Sharing Program Comes to Mpls

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.


anna said...

Wow, the bikes look lovely! What a refreshing color! The amount of shared bikes seems to be similar to Vienna, but Vienna is about 9-10 times bigger (ok, areawise Vienna is only about 3 times bigger, I looked it up). So it's probably quite a good start for Minneapolis!

The payment system, on the other hand, is closer to the BiCiNg bikes in Barcelona. However, it's great that they have both day and year passes :).

spiderleggreen said...

I'm glad they're thinking big. Minnesota used to be known as a progressive state that looked for innovation.

Yes, Mpls. is spread out, thanks in part an excellent street car system in the first half of the 20th century. Which they promptly tore up in the 50's to make way for cars. In comparing Vienna to Mpls., you need to remember that we have gigantic suburbs surrounding the city(and St. Paul which makes it the Twin Cites). Most people live in the suburbs. I didn't see anything looking like our suburbs in Vienna. The city seemed to stop at the Weiner Wald.

I can't see a program like this working in most of the Burbs, but I hope that by changing the core city, priorities out there may change.

m e l i g r o s a said...

nice reporting chai green spider :D
"glad they made it a reality" awesome!!

The Jolly Crank said...

I know that people in the neighborhood of North Minneapolis were a little upset at not having a bike station (whereas my neighborhood has several). The program designers did say that they used bike traffic statistics to figure out where to put the stations, although I don't know their specific calculus. Hopefully unserviced parts of town will get their own stations as the program takes off. I think that some community leaders in North felt that they were snubbed because of the crime rates and minority populations in their neighborhood.

I originally had my misgivings about the program, but I have since become a convert.

Lucille Collins said...

It looks so cute! I love the color f the bikes. It really an environmental program to have this nice ride. Is Shimano deore xt m780 gears are used to make those bike?