Bike share gears up in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is on track to launch the first large-scale bike share system of any city in the country. In May 2010, Nice Ride Minnesota will launch a bike share system in Minneapolis, similar to systems in Paris, Barcelona, Montreal, and more than 100 cities across the globe.

Nice Ride Minnesota will put 1,000 bicycles onto Minneapolis streets, locked in 80 self-service kiosks. Bike share kiosks will be located in downtown Minneapolis, on the University of Minnesota campus and in nearby commercial districts, including Uptown, Eat Street, Midtown, Seward, Dinkytown, Cedar Riverside, and the Warehouse district.

Mayor R.T. Rybak led the initiative to create Nice Ride Minnesota, a new Minneapolis-based nonprofit corporation. The Board of Directors includes both public and private representatives.

“Nice Ride is about making it easy for everyone—commuters, visitors and students—to use a bike in our city,” Mayor Rybak said. “Bikes are great for short trips. They’re fast, fun, healthy and green. Minneapolis is the best cycling city in America. When you travel through Minneapolis on a bike, you discover amazing places, like outdoor restaurants, gardens, galleries and neighborhood coffee shops. Experience Minneapolis on a bike and you’ll love what you find!”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) today announced it will be the major sponsor of Nice Ride Minnesota. Nice Ride previously received a $1.75 million award from Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federally-funded initiative to increase biking and walking and reduce driving.

“We’re excited to be a part of this innovative program that makes it easier for Minnesotans to be active in their daily lives,” said Patrick Geraghty, president and CEO, Blue Cross. “With two-thirds of Minnesotans overweight or obese, we need creative solutions such as Nice Ride to put the brakes on this trend. Public bicycle-sharing can help more Minnesotans lead active and healthy lifestyles, starting with downtown workers and the students, staff and faculty on the University of Minnesota campus.”

Nice Ride will allow people to keep their cars parked and use bicycles for short trips around the city. Users will pay a $5 daily fee via credit card or purchase a $60 annual subscription to take a bike from one locked Nice Ride kiosk and return it to another near their destination. It’s simple and convenient for appointments, quick errands, going to lunch or even exploring the city.

“Blue Cross’ sponsorship of Nice Ride demonstrates their leadership and commitment to the health and vitality of our community,” Mayor Rybak said. “I encourage other forward-thinking companies to financially support Nice Ride and join us in bringing about a new era of active, healthy and green transportation in Minneapolis.”

People can learn more about Nice Ride at the “Kick Gas” exhibit in the Eco-Experience Building at the State Fair, which highlights “greener, cheaper and healthier” transportation alternatives. In the exhibit, will be a bike share kiosk from Montreal’s BIXI, the latest in bike sharing technology. BIXI put 3,000 bikes in 300 kiosks on the streets of Montreal in May and will build bike share systems in London and Boston. BIXI is one of several potential vendors to Nice Ride Minnesota.

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