Some months ago I predicted that the Minneapolis bike share program, Nice Ride, would be an abject failure and waste of tax payer funds. It turns out that I was completely wrong. Nice Ride has been an outstanding success during its first year.
What did I get wrong? It turns out that the bike share program is most useful for a few types of users that I hadn’t accounted for:
- People who live in downtown Minneapolis – many live in town houses or apartments and getting a bicycle in and out of their living space is a pain in the ass. Many are using Nice Ride bikes to speed up their commute to work or to run errands within the downtown metro.
- Visitors and tourists – while we’ve personally not used Nice Ride bikes for visitors (yet), it’s nice to know that the option exists. Friends visiting can now easily rent a couple of bikes and see the city on two wheels without their hosts having to possess a large cache of bicycles.
- Lunch time strollers – on many occasions I’ve heard of coworkers checking out a bike over their lunch hour to broaden their range of culinary options. Many of these people commute in by bus and a bike simply widens their range.
Another intangible benefit of the Nice Ride program is that it has put more practical bikes on the roads. The “typical” bicycle on Minneapolis streets is a single speed road bike, usually adorned with a skinny jean-wearing hipster. Nice Ride bikes feature a chain guard, fenders, internal hub, and dynamo-powered lights, making them some of the most accessible bikes on the streets. Most riders seem to forgo a helmet, though I have seen some bring their own.
The program has been so successful in its inaugural year that the city is already talking about expanding it, particularly in low income areas that were bypassed during the first wave. Not bad at all, Minneapolis.
Mmmmmmm. Crow tastes awfully good when it’s in the best interest of advancing cycling as a viable transport option!