Bike sharing is gaining ground in US cities with programs in Washington DC, Boston and Denver. The newest adopters are the Twin Cities of St Paul-Minneapolis in Minnesota.
Nice Ride Minnesota hit the streets this in June with 60 kiosks strategically placed throughout the city that hold 1000 distinct green bikes and further expansion is on the way.
“Nice Ride Minnesota is proud to have played a key role in fostering the growth of bike-share in US cities,” said Bill Dossett, Executive Director of Nice Ride Minnesota. “We pioneered the non-profit business model and have collaborated with planners around the country as they call seeking our advice and experiences. We believe that bike-sharing is a great strategy to enhance a vibrant, livable downtown and almost every major US City will have bike sharing in five years.”
Minneapolis’ program arrived on the heels of other major cities who have had great success with bike-sharing such as the Montreal-based Public Bike System Company (PBSC) BIXI that was recently implemented in Washington DC. Other international cities to jump on board include Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Barcelona, Helsinki, Stockholm and London.
“Nice Ride Minnesota has purchased bike sharing equipment and software services from Public Bike System Company, which is based in Montreal and also owns and operates the BIXI system,” Dossett said. “We are using the same equipment. Washington DC, Boston, Melbourne, London, and Toronto are also purchasing from PBSC. We believe it is the best bike share system in the world.”
According to Dossett it costs roughly three million dollars to bring citywide bike sharing to the Twin Cities. Nice Ride Minnesota plans to pay for operating costs through revenue from users and station sponsors.
“Nice Ride is just getting started with phase two planning now,” Dossett said. “We receive requests for stations from all over the Twin Cities every day. We are working to put together a package of public and private funding that will enable us to expand quickly. To purchase more stations for a major expansion, we need to raise additional capital funds through public and private sources.”
Using the bike share system
To use Nice Ride Minnesota you must have a subscription to the program. There are daily ($5), monthly ($30) and annual ($60) subscriptions available.
Once you have a subscription, you pay nothing for the first 30 minutes, $1.50 for the second half hour and $3 for the third. Each additional half hour over 90 minutes costs $6. For example, a two-hour session will cost $10.50.
Nice Ride Minnesota has already received complaints that the system places a $250 hold on customers using a debit cards.
“Our system works the same way as the BIXI system in Montreal and other bike share systems around the world,” Dossett said. “The difference is that those systems operate on credit cards and reject debit cards. In the US, we cannot automatically reject a debit card if your bank sets the account up to be processed like a credit card without a PIN. We are working on software changes that will enhance security and allow us to reduce the security deposit on both credit and debit cards.”
Despite the expense, Dossett reported over 20,000 trips taken on Nice Ride since the system was turned on in June. “Minnesotans are proud to lead on a simple idea that has the potential to change the way people think about getting around in cities. They also think the bikes are really fun!”