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:

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

7 thoughts on “Bike share is not working in North Minneapolis

  1. Some thoughts…

    Is there some kind of up front deposit if you are not a member? The one in San Francisco was $150 if you weren’t a member. People living paycheck to paycheck can’t always front money for that. There need to be alternative means of liability. Im not sure what those would look like, but they need to be there.

    Have a “free ride” day, with guided rides… As in, alert people that on a given day the ride share will be free (or something cheap like $1), and that at a given time (4pm) there will be a guided ride of… some nice routes in the neighborhood. Maybe folks don’t know how to ride, or haven’t ridden since childhood and are unsure of using the bikes alone.

    What does the advertising look like? Is it neighborhood sensitive?

    Is it price competitive with driving, say, to the grocery store or taking the bus?

  2. Hi! There is no longer a deposit required and Nice Ride does do guided tours with free annual memberships given out at the end. Free. About 30% are redeemed.
    The idea is to get away from the bike share system, not to figure out why it isn’t working. It is NOT price comparative but that is why NR offered free memberships. And hence why they want to try something different.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. What parts of NR are not working in North. Is it just that the bikes are not being ridden? Can we make em a cooler color? Less dufey lookin. Places to ride . like Broadway sucks so does Lyndale Plymouth and Penn. What population are you ,targeting, (sorry but gun ref abounds) we are talking about a section of the city far removed from downtown or any entertainment or is a very different space than south or uptown. Or campus. For most of is the 5 mile barrier is beyond where we live. So . infrastructure improvements. Routes. Places to go within two miles or less.

  4. I am not challenging the statement that “Bike share is not working in North Minneapolis”, but what exactly does this mean? Also, depending on what is meant by “not working”, are there metrics available that quantify this?


    Matt Perry

    • Hi Matt! Sorry for the delay in response. Nice Ride would have specific “metrics,” but in general the ridership is very low in North. Also, there is a low rate of usage for free subscriptions given out. So even if the cost barrier is removed, people do not necessarily take advantage of that.
      In short, it is not working for two reasons: low ridership AND the current system is not solving the transportation needs of North residents (in part due to some of the things Jamie mentioned).

  5. If the goal is to serve North Minneapolis, can Nice Ride work more with some of the other programs in North Minneapolis to get more people biking? Bolder Options (which is a mentoring program that using biking and running with kids) has a satellite office over there, and the YMCA has a Youth and Teen enrichment center. Both places serve kids, have programming staff, focus on fitness, and could surely do some biking programs. (And I’m sure there’s other great programs over North that I haven’t mentioned.)

    • These are great ideas, Liz. Thanks! No need to reinvent the wheel. I know Major Taylor is talking with NR too about some of the bicycle events they hold.

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