Minnesotans love their bicycles. Programs like the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT) “Share the Road” bicycle safety education program have been making it even easier and safer for Minneapolis bike enthusiasts to hit the road.
In fact, last year’s traffic statistics show Minnesota cycling accidents at an all-time low, since 2007. That’s why it’s a perfect time for the uninitiated to try out Minneapolis’ Nice Ride Program!
WHAT IS THE NICE RIDE PROGRAM?
The Nice Ride Minnesota program, a non-profit organization that provides public bike sharing in the Twin Cities, was born in June of 2010 with 700 bikes located at 65 stations – most of them close to downtown Minneapolis. Now in its 4th year, Nice Ride is unveiling 24 new stations this season, for a total of 170 bike sharing locations throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Nice Ride bicycles are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from April to November. All Nice Ride stations are removed from the streets during the harsh winter months and reopened in the spring. Though a limited number of Nice Ride stations reopened for this year’s season in April (they had to briefly shut down for storms throughout the month), the full fleet of 1,500 bicycles is expected to up and running by mid-May.
POPULARITY OF THE NICE RIDE PROGRAM STEADILY ON THE RISE
Nice Ride’s popularity was evident from its inception, averaging 761 rides per day in the first month it launched. One year later, ridership had grown to 1,207 rides per day. With last year’s addition of 30 new locations, the program saw its ridership jump again to 1,576 per day, and by August of 2012, Nice Ride had hit 500,000 total rides. Nice Ride is predicting they’ll crack their millionth trip by the end of the 2013 season. Could you be the 1 millionth rider?
HOW TO BECOME A NICE RIDER
To become a “Nice Rider,” visit the subscription area of the Nice Ride Program website at https://www.niceridemn.org/subscriptions/ and purchase a subscription. Subscriptions come in both daily and yearly increments (at a substantial discount over the daily rate), allowing you to try the program to see if it’s a fit before you move forward with an annual subscription.
Daily (24-hour) subscriptions can be purchased using your credit card at pay stations located at each Nice Ride location. The total cost to use the Nice Ride system depends upon a combination of your subscription rate, plus trip fees for any rides over 30 minutes. Daily subscribers are issued unlocking codes with their payment, while annual subscribers get a Nice Ride Starter Kit that includes a pocket system map, 24-hour passes for your friends, and a handy Nice Ride “key” that lets you access bikes at any station you choose, at any time during the season. Bikes can also be returned to any open slot at all Nice Ride stations in the system, making convenience a key ingredient in Nice Ride’s success.
Enjoy the ride!