The popularity of bike sharing programs is consistently increasing; as it promotes green transportation by reducing the use of motor vehicles in the city, benefits human wellness, and it’s a convenient alternative to cars. The Twin Cities is not trailing behind in the world-wide trend. In 2010, the Nice Ride Minnesota initiative started with 65 stations and 700 bikes in the City of Minneapolis. Records show that within the first year of the program, the 700 bikes made roughly 100,000 trips. Hence, organizers were confident in expanding the program to St. Paul in 2011 and 2012.
One of the most convenient aspects of the bike sharing system is that users can access bikes at any station and return their bikes to any nearest station. Armaan Bindra, software engineer at VoiceIt, is a regular user of the Nice Ride system. Bindra worked and lived in Downtown Minneapolis for a full year until he recently moved to Uptown Minneapolis in late May. He shares, “I don’t own a car, so having easy access to the Nice Ride bikes helps me get to where I need to go and saves money.” In Addition, Bindra mentions how he believes that the bike sharing system is overall a good idea. “It really shows the effort and investment the Twin Cities put into creating a more environmentally-friendly community, as well as promoting a healthy city. I just feel better about biking in general. I feel energized when I bike.”
Reports also testify that the bike sharing system around the Twin Cities have supported 1.8 million trips since the startup’s launch in 2010. Tony Desnick, development director for Nice Ride Minnesota, expresses, “That’s 1.8 million trips that were not taken by car. The environmental impact is real, and the health impact is very real. It improves the health of individuals as well as the community.”
Title sponsor, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minnesota, is also a big fan of the Nice Ride—they’ve been collaborating with the non-profit bike sharing organization since the very beginning. To show their commitment in promoting and investing in a stronger tie between health and transportation in the Twin Cities, the insurance company has extended their title sponsorship to 2020.
Today, the Nice Ride has over 1,700 bikes available around the clock from 190 docking stations across the Twin Cities’ Metro area. Nonetheless, Nice Ride continues to seek more expansion possibilities as the organization is preparing to install eight new stations in Dinkytown, Stadium Village, and on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Nice Ride hopes that the new stations could help meet the demand created by new businesses in the area. Now with the new option of a flat rate of $4 per half-hour single ride, walk-up users can use the bikes anytime of the day. Frequent users have the option of buying a 3-day pass for $10, which allows unlimited half-hour rides. One-year ($75) and 30-day Pay-as-you-go ($18) memberships are also available to customers.
Are there bike sharing initiatives in your city? If so, how have the impacted your city? Is bike sharing in your city serving low-income populations? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Credits: Images by Tam Nguyen. Data linked to sources.