Monday morning, we hit a milestone in Minneapolis. Sometime around 8:00 am, as people were heading into work on a hot summer’s day, the 50,000th ride was taken on our Nice Ride bike-share system.
That’s 50,000 rides since we launched the system just 2½ months ago.
I couldn’t be more excited about the success of Nice Ride, the electric-green bikes you’ve probably seen tooling around town. What is Nice Ride? Simply put, it’s a convenient, inexpensive and healthy way to get out of your car and make short trips around the center of town. It’s also another one of the innovative changes we’ve made to getting around Minneapolis in more sustainable ways.
Right off the bat, I want to thank the public/private partnerships that have made Nice Ride possible. First, Nice Ride executive director Bill Dossett, one of the most focused and energetic people I know. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota contributed $1 million, and I thank CEO Pat Geraghty for his personal interest in Nice Ride. We are also extremely grateful for the support of Bike Walk Twin Cities, which invested $1.75 million through the federal government’s Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program. Minneapolis is honored to be one of only four communities in the country participating in the pilot program that is designed to increase bicycling and walking — and I especially want to thank Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar, chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee and an avid cyclist himself, for his understanding of our vision and his commitment to our success.
I hope that by now, you’ve tried Nice Ride, which is the largest bike-share program in the country — but if you haven’t, how it works is simple. Go to one of the 65 Nice Ride kiosks conveniently located throughout the city (a full station map is available at http://www.niceridemn.org). With a credit card ready, choose from a 24-hour ($5), 30-day ($30), or year-long ($60) subscription. Your trip begins when you take a bike and ends when you return it to any of the stations. Meant for quick trips, the first 30 minutes of every ride are free. To avoid extra trip fees, simply return your bike to any station within 30 minutes and check out another one. It’s an easy, affordable and healthy approach to public transportation.
True to our reputation as the #1 bike city in the country, Minneapolis is committed to promoting biking as a fun and sustainable alternative to driving. With programs like Nice Ride, we can now replace short car trips with pleasant bike rides. This should be a huge help in cutting down on the congestion and traffic in our neighborhoods, especially between Downtown and Uptown. We know that a large number of cars on Hennepin and Lyndale are making short trips — so if we move people onto bikes, we can make driving, living and visiting those places better as well.
As we focus on making sure that Nice Ride is successful as a safe, reliable, and easy-to-use bike-share system, we’re also looking ahead to its future growth. Like all cities that have successfully implemented bike share, we started in the dense urban core of the city, but we plan to expand into the North Side and more Northeast and South Side neighborhoods as funds become available. In the years to come, we hope to double the number of kiosks and eventually extend Nice Ride to Saint Paul and other urban centers in the Twin Cities. In the meantime, we look forward to partnering with neighborhood festivals and events to promote bike safety and create bike corrals for everyone.
I encourage you to visit http://www.niceridemn.org to learn more about how we’re creating a more active, healthy and sustainable Minneapolis. And if you haven’t tried it yet, add your next ride to the first 50,000: grab your helmet, find the nearest Nice Ride kiosk and hop on one of those funky green bikes. I’ll see you on the road.
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