Day 10 Update

Share   |  Posted Jun. 21, 2010 by Bill Dossett

Nice Ride Minnesota launched just 10 days ago. Here's an update on how things are going:

Station Installations
We have installed 54 bike share stations. All except one are on our printed map. We added a station on 2nd Avenue North between 5th and 4th Streets to serve Target Field and the Northstar Line.

Three stations will be installed early this week: Hennepin and 5th Street (near the Lumber Exchange), 5th Avenue and 27th (near the Greenway and Kix field), and Coffman Union. We are waiting for a shipment of parts that should arrive June 22nd.

Three more stations on UofM property are waiting for University action: Cooke Hall, Regis Art Center, and Oak Street Ramp.

At three locations on our printed map we are bumping into permit issues or conflicts with other uses: 24th and Hennepin (by Spyhouse), 26th and Nicollet (by Christos), and Franklin and Nicollet. We are looking into nearby locations to serve the same neighborhoods.

For the most current information, check out the bike station map, which provides updates on the status of each installed station in real time.

We have been operating with 350 bikes in the system since the launch. The mechanics at Freewheel have lots more ready to go. We'll add about 100 more this week and continue to add bikes as usage increases.

So far, we have been able to keep up with rebalancing the kiosks with one trailer working 6am until about 1am every day. We will add a second trailer as needed. The "bike depot" at the Walker Art Center worked well for Rock the Garden. We expect to do something similar for big events throughout the summer.

Subscriptions and Usage
We have 302 1-year subscribers and 6 30-day subscribers. 2,072 people have purchased 24-hour subscriptions. 4,459 trips have been taken on Nice Ride bikes.

Our biggest challenge has been debit cards. The $250 preauthorization hold required for a 24-subscription is a greater imposition on debit card accounts than credit card accounts. In Montreal, where our system was developed, debit cards are rejected by the system. Because US banks have lower security requirements, some debit cards are being processed at our pay stations. We have added signage and are working with our supplier to develop a software solution.

Another big challenge is spreading the word about how Nice Ride works. Like anything new, it takes time for the concept to sink in. We'll have volunteers on the street this week answering questions. If you have it figured out and see someone staring at a kiosk with a puzzled look, please offer to help. It's a fun way to meet people who are excited about cycling in the city.

Potential For Growth
A gratifying part of the launch has been the number of people calling to request bike share kiosks in their neighborhoods. We are sticking to the Phase 1 plan with the 65 kiosks we now own because we think it's essential to build a core network before expanding. But we are eager to grow. We expect to begin a planning process to map out Phase 2 locations within a few weeks. Then we'll get to work raising funds.

Huge thanks to all of you who have supported Nice Ride through from the beginning. We definitely have lots to learn and some systems to improve, but we are confident we are using the best equipment in the world and Minneapolis is a great town for bike share. Please tell us where we can do better and keep the suggestions coming.

31 Previous comments:

(1) On June 21, 2010, Megan () said:
I am in town for a short vacation from San Francisco. When I saw the Nice Ride bikes I immediately cancelled my rental car reservation. Minneapolis is super easy to navigate by bike and Nice Ride bikes are cheap and everywhere! It's hard to describe...but it is like having utter freedom in an unfamiliar city. I'm no longer stuck waiting for buses or paying for cabs or a rental car. It's been great to just be able to hop on a bike and get myself across town. Thank you!
(2) On June 21, 2010, Chuck ( said:
There are many Nice Ride evangelists that would gladly act as a civilian support crew. Let's organize and help the effort.
(3) On June 21, 2010, Rachel S () said:
Thank you for providing such a valuable service to our bike savvy community! I appreciate the thoughtful and thorough progress report. Every new system has its glitches, but thanks for your efforts to work out the kinks! We are lucky to have Nice Ride in Minnesota!!!
(4) On June 21, 2010, Dave () said:
I love this concept...then I read there's a $250 authorization Hold? That's !$#ing ridiculous!
(5) On June 22, 2010, Alyssa () said:
Nice Ride did a GREAT job at Rock the Garden. 10 days in and I think you're off to a great start! Keep it up!
(6) On June 22, 2010, Hazel Stone () said:
There are some disturbing implications to the lack of bike stations in the poorer and browner parts of town. I'd like that to change over time as you get more established.

Great idea though and I wish you success. Any chance y'all will have St. Paul in the mix at some point?
(7) On June 22, 2010, Nick () said:
I signed up last week and have been really impressed with everything so far! I've been riding to and from work, plus a pleasure trip uptown last night- really awesome and easy!
(8) On June 22, 2010, Linda () said:
I'm promoting Nice Ride MN whenever I can through tweets, word of mouth, and video! Keep up the good work! The only thing I don't like about the bikes is the seat is really uncomfortable.
Thanks for being so transparent in describing your operations, subscription info, and challenges.
(10) On June 22, 2010, Andrea () said:
Hey Dave.. you can get a subscription or use a credit card and you dont have to worry about the hold (which is released when you return the bike). $250 is 1/4 the cost of a bike and if it were to be stolen at least they would ensure they get something. It is a non profit and every non profit is a buisness so they do have to protect their assests. That being said my subscription is the way to go....
(11) On June 22, 2010, RFP () said:
Looking great so far! Might I suggest adding a "statistics" section to the site, updated live? It'd be cool to see the number and % of bikes checked out at any given time, most frequent destination station, most frequent source station, and such.

Equipping a few of the bikes with GPS and mapping their paths would be valuable information. This would identify the most popular bicycle routes, show where bike lanes or paths should be added, and perhaps goad the city into action.

Once the system has been running longer and you guys understand usage patterns, perhaps you could announce "bounties" on the site. For instance, riders could get a few hours added to their subscription for moving a bike from a station with too many bikes to a station with too few bikes.
(12) On June 22, 2010, Jamie Schweser () said:
I love that you are being transparent about how many subscribers there are, what is working, what challenges you're having, how you are doing things. Thank you!
(13) On June 23, 2010, Steve () said:
You should put a station in North Minneapolis, somewhere near Broadway and Lyndale. Don't wait until phase 2, do it now. It's too good of a spot to neglect.
(14) On June 23, 2010, Phil () said:
I am from Montreal and hope that you enjoy Nice Ride as much as I do ! Your web site is quite cool too !
(15) On June 23, 2010, Bertha () said:
Ripoff not %$ for all day. $6 per half hr Credit card billed $ 120.00 . they will charge your card $ 500. oo
Crooks. it is not $5 for all day it is $100s of $$ i could of have bough a bike for this price.....
(16) On June 23, 2010, Chad () said:
I'm into Day 2 of my annual subscription and have already used it 7 times. My partner and I love it. If we had a $1 for every person we've explained it to we'd be rich. How about a perk for subscription referrals????
I can tell from some conversations that it's a complicated concept that takes a while to sink in. I think, though, that you've done a good job w/ marketing and communication efforts. Keep up the good work! We are looking forward to Phase 2 and seeing more bikes on the street!
(17) On June 24, 2010, Sean () said:
I saw a pretty shocking statistic regarding the number of bikes damaged/stolen when a similar program was set up in Paris (don't quote me on this, but I read in the MNDaily over 50% of the bikes were either damaged or stolen). Just wondering whether the bikes within the Nice Ride system are holding up so far since it appears as though a lot of the stations do not even have half the total number of bikes compared to the completely full stations I saw around the U of M campus on the first day.
(18) On June 24, 2010, A friend from Montreal () said:
To Bertha (15) above : you have not understood the concept of Nice Ride: it is meant as a transportation mean, not a bike rental to enjoy on holidays! 5$ gets you the right to ride the bike for as many 30 minutes rides during 24 hours. If you need to ride for longer than 30 minutes, replace the bike, wait 5 minutes, and pick it up again. This is necessary to ensure the bikes are used for public transportation, and enough bikes are available for everyone to use.
I think it is clear from the website, and before talking of crooks, you should be able to read carefully a couple of paragraph on a one-page explanation. Misguided people should not be allowed to defeat a great system like this one.
(19) On June 24, 2010, Donnell Morgan () said:
Maybe you'll get to northside residents soon?
(20) On June 24, 2010, Phyllis Roden () said:
I've rented a bike the past two nights to ride home from Downtown to Uptown. I love the bikes!! I used to walk home. With Nice Ride I save one half hour and it's really fun. I do wish the carrier on the front were a bit larger. I just need to be careful my gym bag doesn't get too big so it fits.
(21) On June 25, 2010, Richard Mendell () said:
My son & I are in town for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly. We stumbled upon a kiosk, and he convinced me to ride the bikes. We did sight seeing along the Mississipi. Bike Cops for Kids stopped us on the Stone Arch Bridge. They are excited about Nice ride also. Yesterday I rode from the University of Minnesota, along the Mississippi, to the Mid town Greenway, and ended at the Minnesota Institute of Art. A great ride and terrific that I did not have to worry about securing my bike at the other end. For an out of towner here for a limited time, this was perfect. Thanks.
(22) On June 25, 2010, Eduardo () said:
Nice system, but up here in N. Minneapolis where I live not one bike station. Institutional racism is alive all well in the land of Minnesota Nice.
(23) On June 27, 2010, RFP () said:
Dear Nice Ride,

When someone purchases a 24 hour subscription from one of your stations and pushes the "print code" button, you need to make it display the code if the station is out of paper, not just lock them out for five minutes.

(24) On June 27, 2010, Dawn () said:
Okay, no pulling the race card. We live in South Minneapolis and we have them.
(25) On June 27, 2010, Hillary () said:
Took our first Niceride from Birchwood to downtown for dinner last night. Great bikes! 3 gears and it was easier climbing hills than with my regular bike. The website and kiosks could do a better job of explaining that the code you get is 1. only good for 5 minutes 2. only good for one bike. It was super easy to rent 2 bikes, but we had to call customer service to figure out how to get the 2nd one out of the rack. Never saw any info that explained you had to reinsert your credit card to get a code for each bike. Thanks for bringing this to Minneapolis! Great to see it take off!
(26) On June 28, 2010, Ray () said:
We visited Minneapolis for the first time this past weekend. We LOVED the Nice Ride bikes. My wife and I used our bikes extensively for 24 hours and the total bill was only $12.40! I can't imagine how much a bike rental would have cost. We returned them to one station, then picked up another bike in a different part of town. We even rode them to church on Sunday. A customer service rep was immediately available to answer our questions. Great idea! I hope it catches on everywhere!
(27) On June 28, 2010, Megan B () said:
The $250 hold is a real deterrent. I rented a bike for myself and friend to show her the city. We had a wonderful time, but when I got home I had a $500 dollar charge on my debit card which caused me to overdraft. I would love to rent a bike again but until you figure out a better system for people using debit cards sadly I can't.
(28) On June 29, 2010, Mike () said:
I think an iPhone app would be very beneficial to this program.
(29) On June 29, 2010, Jeff () said:
The first time I tried this my girlfriend and I read the directions thinking that the 24 hour rental was $5 as posted. We didn't get that you have to take this bike to a kiosk within 30 minutes and either leave it or check out another one to avoid additional charges. We had the bikes all day without knowing this and got an enormous bill. When we called and told them it was a misunderstanding they said they would only give us a $20 dollar credit. Which never showed up on my bank balance even though we called again. "Nice Ride" is out to make money-lots of money any way they can. Buy your own bike and avoid this scam!
(30) On July 23, 2010, Julia () said:
I also agree it is a scam! I got charged $500 and more. The woman I spoke to to get a refund was rude but told me to call back with my bank. When I called back withmy bank no answer at nice rides. I plan to get the word around about this scam. It was a nice idea, but a shame that something so fun could turn into a quick nightmare!!
(31) On June 15, 2012, Will () said:
The bottom line is that nobody I've talked to looks past the 6$/24 hr. subscription notice. So, they all think that is a good deal. It's a horrible deal ... LOL. It doesn't bother me much because I read the fine print, but nobody else I know even knows how much their card was charged. My friends think I'm nuts because they claim it is only 6$ for 24 hours. It's obvious you have a lot of people writing these posts to support the whole idea ... but come on, some are obviously fake. Like the person who said he and wife used the bikes "ALL WEEKEND ... and even went to church, it was a total of $12.40!" Uh ... that's a total lie, even though you could probably theoretically do it. Oh... and the first person who exclaimed " IT WAS IF I HAD UTTER FREEDOM ...!!! IN AN UNFAMILIAR CITY ...I WAS NO LONGER STUCK WITH A RENTAL CAR !" Ha ha ha, that's crazy ... and total bs:), there's no freedom when you have to monitor these under 1/2 hr. increments so perfectly... a car rental would be exponentially cheaper and way more awesome. Some of you are laying it on us a little thick aren't ya ... it is pretty funny though. At some point above, someone responds to a poor lady who got totally screwed, that she's basically an idiot who should have read the fine print. I'll give you a newsflash, she is a CONSUMER ... and she is one of many who have had an experience where they were not of the understanding that the massive sign that says 6$/24 hours... translated into hundreds of dollars. That's a real problem. While writing this, I told my friend to check his debit card as he just rented one of these bikes ... he text me back right now ... "EXPLETIVE," ... ha ha what a SUCKER HE IS !

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From the FAQ

Am I required to wear a helmet?

While it's not required, Nice Ride recommends that everyone wear a helmet. Keep a helmet at work or in your locker. Freewheel Bike offers 20% off Trek helmets to all Nice Ride Subscribers (bring your Nice Ride key or a receipt from any Nice Ride station). Pick-up a helmet at Freewheel's West Bank store or the Freewheel Midtown Bike Center