Bike share is not working in North Minneapolis

In the two meetings I have had recently with Nice Ride (the Minneapolis bike share program) it has become clear to me that the current U.S. model for bike share is not succeeding in lower-income communities at the rate hoped for by bicycle advocates. The reasons for this are layered, including low-density neighborhoods and the current concept of bike share just not solving the transportation problems of certain residents.

Both the executive director and outreach coordinator are very open and honest about why Nice Ride is not hugely successful in North Minneapolis, despite its high profile and positive reputation. As one often skeptical of mainstream bicycle planning, I was pleasantly surprised by all the steps they took to integrate Nice Ride into neighborhoods with a lack of already existing “bike culture.” Nice Ride remains committed to serving North Minneapolis…including in new and exciting ways.

The people at Nice Ride are very open to hearing ideas that would reshape what Nice Ride looks like in North Minneapolis. Like, forget the green bikes and stations. What else can we do?

So you are reading that correctly: they actually WANT ideas. They do not have a plan. But they have funding and bicycles.

Because this is an anomaly in the bike world, I hope this news gets around fast. Nice Ride has specifically requested ideas from bicycle advocates.

Perhaps someone out there has a vision of how Nice Ride can bring bikes to North in a way that would actively serve the community.

You may comment here or contact Nice Ride directly: volunteer@niceride.org

[[For background on the North side’s relationship with Nice Ride, please see this local NPR article]]

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Where is the invisible cyclist?

The writers behind the Invisible Cyclist blog, Julian Agyeman and Steve Zavestoski, posted a literature review of popular press and academic musings about bikes and transportation equity.

You can check it out here  (full disclosure: I am cited)

Although the collection of new literature on the topic is helpful to anyone interested in biking and gentrification//equity//sustainability, it also suggests that advocates need to shift focus. Our voices have been heard through community meetings, dialogue with other cyclists, and  discussions with our neighbors. It appears that less and less people scoff when you combine bikes with the concepts of gentrificationclassism, or racism. I have also had multiple undergraduate students contact me to discuss their research on this very subject.

We have certainly made progress, but we still have a lot of work to do. For example, I am still disappointed in the lack of data collected on people of color bicyclists–from the U.S. Census to local bike advocate organizations. I hope to work with local organizations to experiment with common data collections sites such as Bike Counts and focus groups to see where we can improve research.

All of this to say that this is an exciting time where we can shift our focus to some strategic planning to make sure equity is a part of all bicycle advocacy discussions.

Helmets, M.