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'Nice Ride' bike sharing program gets rolling today in Minneapolis

The Nice Ride bicycle rack at Fifth Street and First Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis.
MinnPost photo by Joel Kramer
The Nice Ride bicycle rack at Fifth Street and First Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis.

A new bike-sharing program kicks off today in Minneapolis, when Nice Ride begins offering greenish and blue bikes for short jaunts around the city.

Hundreds of the bikes are available at 60 kiosks around the downtown Minneapolis area through the nonprofit program. To ride you need a subscription, available online. The cost ranges from $5 for 24 hours to $60 a year. Then the first half hour of riding is always free; the next half hour costs $1.50, and the next half hour is $3. Riders use a credit card to pay at the kiosk pay station.

Bikes can be returned to any kiosk at the end of the ride, although if there are no empty slots you'll be prompted to take it to another nearby kiosk with openings.

As part of the opening festivities, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, an avid cyclist and the author of "Bicycle Diaries," will join Mayor R.T. Rybak and others in a June 17 forum titled "Cities, Bicycles, and the Future of Getting Around." The event, at 7 p.m at the Uptown Theater, will also feature writer Jay Walljasper and Steve Clark, manager of the Twin Cities' Transit for Livable Communities Walking and Bicycling Program. Tickets art $10; for more information, go here.

MinnPost would like to hear from anyone who's tried the system. How did it go? Are the kiosks located where you want to go? Are the bikes comfortable and easy to ride? How was the payment procedure? Was returning it easy? Let our readers know in the Comments section below. And if you have photos you'd like to share, send them to Corey Anderson at canderson[at]MinnPost[dot]com. Please include information about who shot the photo and who's in it.

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Comments (7)

I know it isn't that important, but the first sentence of this article is a bit off: The bikes are green w/ a blue fender ad. Not much yellow involved. =)

They seem kind of yellowish green, but let's go with greenish and blue.

This is kinda like the Velib system they have in Paris. That's a cool system and you see people using it all over the place. The Nice Ride bikes don't look quite as sturdy as the Velib, and it's more expensive, $5.00 instead of 1 Euro. It looks like the same leasing system however.

The Velib program turned out to be a lot more expensive than they thought it would be, it's heavily tax subsidized. The idea was that most riders would be short commutes rather than actual bike rides or sight seeing. Once get beyond $2-$3 it things like buses start to look more attractive. It'll be interesting to see how this goes over. In many ways MPLS is much more bike friendly than Paris. I think it's strange that they don't have a page where they actually show the bike and talk about it specs and features. I wish they did, I'm curious.

The Strib had an article and discussion about this. I checked the website and no mention of liability if the bike is lost or stolen.

Wikipedia Velib: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%A9lib'

A great idea that must overcome a huge barrier in that the user cost is set too high.

I'm surprised that this article doesn't mention that this bike sharing program is developed by Bixi, a Montreal company that introduced a similar bike sharing program here last year. The system in Montreal has been an enormous success in terms of popularity, although there are concerns about the lack of expansion into poorer neighbourhoods, as well as issues with not being able to get a bike at high demand stations during rush hour or not finding a spot to return your bike due to the station being full. Bixi redistributes bikes as fast as they can to address these concerns, but the issue persists and it is quite frustrating and time consuming.

The system has expanded to about 400 stations and 5000 bikes, but the service is still not available in all areas of the city, mainly lower income areas and separate anglophone municipalities.

The annual subscription fee is $18 cheaper for you, however the rest of the pricing scheme is the same.

I hope your bike share program is a success and helps to bring about a cultural shift away from private autos as it seems to have contributed to here.

Enjoy this lame, but entertaining hip hop video about our bike sharing program:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGzBOmOD_Tw&feature=player_embedded

If you use a cash card, Nice Bike takes $250 from your checking account and keeps it for eight days. That's WAY too big an investment for a 20-minute ride, for which they still charged me $5.39. Sounded like a great program. I'll never touch 'em again.