2010 Season Comes to a Close with Over 100,000 Rides

Share   |  Posted Nov. 9, 2010 by Mitch Vars

The inaugural season of Nice Ride ended at 10pm on Sunday, November 7th. We accomplished a lot during the 150 days of our first season. Here's a look at what we've learned.

Nice Riders on Sabo bridge

Our biggest accomplishment during our first year isn't the 100,000 rentals, that's only part of the story.

Looking back, the thing that we can be most proud of is the change in public opinion and understanding that has taken place. When we launched on June 10th, Nice Ride was only the second large scale bike sharing system in the United States, the first system, in Denver, was just 6 weeks old. Bike sharing was brand new and it took some time for people to get their minds around just what it was we were trying to do.

Last spring, when we were preparing to put the bikes on the street, we were flooded with questions from the public and the media:

  • How are you going to keep the bikes from getting stolen?
  • Will people use it?
  • Didn't we already try this with Yellow bikes in St. Paul with horrible results?

Initially there was a lot of confusion around how the system worked and how people could make use of it. We responded by simplifying the rental process, and significantly lowering the deposit placed on 24hr subscriptions. Our outreach staff and volunteers were present at over 90 events this past summer, answering questions and showing people how Nice Ride could fit into their lives. At some point, about midway through the summer, the questions began to change:

  • How many rentals have there been?
  • When can we get a station near us?
  • When are you going to expand?

By mid August, the number of rentals had risen. On warm summer evenings, downtown Minneapolis was filled with the flickering lights of Nice Ride bikes. Nice Ride bike sharing has not only found acceptance, it's become a part of everyday life for many thousands of people. The bike stations are now part of the cities transportation infrastructure, providing users with a healthy and convenient way to get where they're going or to go places they've never been.

One of the best measures of our success could be all the misunderstanding surrounding just who or what Nice Ride is. More often than not, people seem to think we're a program of the City of Minneapolis. Nice Ride is actually a very small non-profit organization, 6 people working in a basement office, and 7 more covering shifts on the street every day from 6am to 2am. A small group of very dedicated people, with limited resources, working for something they believed in, mistaken for the City of Minneapolis.

Of course it took more than just us to make bike sharing a reality.

None of this would have been possible without the support of our sponsors, and we owe them immensely. In addition, we were the fortunate to be able to partner with some of the most talented people in the city. Professional services like design and marketing, legal and financial work, public relations and web services were all provided pro-bono. A long list of local businesses stepped up and supported us because they believed in what we were doing. If you believe in it and think it's important, please let them know.

Most of all the people who deserve thanks are our users. Those of you who were willing try something new, and those of you who were kind enough to forgive us when things went wrong. Without the incredible number of people who have been willing to give bike sharing a try, we wouldn't be where we're at now.

What's next for Nice Ride? We want to make it even better. We'll be working over the winter, overhauling bikes and continuing with other system improvements. We'll be adding at least 6 more stations in the spring which are already funded. The planning process for a much larger expansion is now underway that would include many more neighborhoods in Minneapolis and also take us to St. Paul. An online store is in the works where you'll be able to purchase Nice Ride gear and gift certificates. We've collected an enormous amount of feedback from our users in recent months and even though the bikes are all in storage, there's still plenty of work to be done. Our plan is to reach more people, and provide an even better experience when we return next spring.

2010 End of Season Numbers

No end of season report would be complete without a bunch of numbers and charts.

Total trips: 100,817
1 year subscriptions sold: 1,295
30-day subscriptions sold: 89
Casual (24hr) subscriptions sold: 29,077
Bikes lost or stolen: 1
Incidents of vandalism > $100: 3
No reports of serious injury.
1 report of an accident involving a car, the front wheel was damaged, but the rider was not injured.

Recently we completed a survey of our 1yr and 30 day subscribers. The survey went out to approximately 1300 people of which about 680 responded. Some of the highlights from survey responses are:

  • 77 % of respondents reported they already own bikes
  • 66% said the amount of biking they did increased after subscribing to Nice Ride.
  • 89% reported their primary use of Nice Ride is for transportation, not recreational riding.

Full survey results of the survey can be found here

*special thanks to TRAM (Transportation Research at McGill) for their input on this survey.

8 Previous comments:

(1) On November 18, 2010, One-Eyed-Jacks () said:
No mention of what this thing has cost the city. My guess is negative $10,000 - $20,000 per month. And they want to expand this thing and raise property taxes more.

When this program is finally ended all these green bikes should be hauled over to the Cedar Square West development (aka Riverside Plaza), Rapson’s government subsidized utopian failure, and parked in the courtyard as a permanent display. Sadly the city wants to put that project in the National Register of Historic Places, unbelievable. BUT that area could be used as a repository of government funded failures, a kind of junkyard museum of Progressive nonsense.

Or they could do the right thing, haul all of these bikes over there now and demolish them and that eye-sore of a project at the same time.

Liberals never learn.
(2) On November 23, 2010, David () said:
As a member of Capital Bikeshare in DC (also Bixi bikes), and a native Minnesotan (a St. Paulite, let me note), why are you closed 'for the season?' When I lived in MN I used to ride year 'round. Why not let your 'annual' members ride 365 days of the year?
Just curious!

(3) On November 24, 2010, Elephantdance () said:
Wow, the previous commentor has so much misplaced animus and is so wrong. Corporate sponsorship is a main source of funding of Nice Ride and the idea the rises in property taxes are in any significant degree (if at all) attributable to this program is laughable. Haters like One-Eyed-Jacks look for opportunities to spill destructive vitriole.
Go Nice Ride--don't let the haters get you down!
(4) On November 26, 2010, Mitch (http://www.niceridemn.org) said:
David -
Our equipment warranties prohibit us from having bikes on the street when road salt is present. This isn't an issue in DC. Also, our location permits stipulate that bike stations must be removed to make way for snow plowing on streets and sidewalks.
(5) On December 1, 2010, Karen () said:
I couldn't be in more disagreement with the first comment in this thread. A program like Nice Ride MN is extremely beneficial to the Twin Cities. It moves us towards the future where alternative transportation is a must, taking care of the environment dire and health issues with people's daily lives of great importance. Nice Ride addresses all of these things in a positive way not to mention providing a distinctive element to our area. It is a plus for businesses and tourism. With the supportive sponsorship right now, I have no doubt that the program can grow in ridership and become an integral part of our community.
(6) On December 16, 2010, jim hughes () said:
"Our equipment warranties prohibit us from having bikes on the street when road salt is present."

That issue could certainly be addressed somehow.

" Also, our location permits stipulate that bike stations must be removed to make way for snow plowing"

I'm not getting this. The kiosks aren't in the roads. And people can't walk where the kiosks are in the summer, so why should they expect to in the winter?
(7) On December 28, 2010, David Aponte () said:
Really One-Eyed Jack? It's obvious that you are turning a blind eye to this. It clearly says in the report that the city is not funding this, so I'm sure your precious dollars are safe with you. I'm also sure they are much happier cutting a hole in your pocket at the gas pump.

I'm from DC as well, and when I visited Minneapolis earlier this year, I thought Nice Ride was a fantastic idea! It's nice to see progress( a word you are obviously afraid of) in this country's communities!

Great job Nice Ride! I can't wait until I visit Minneapolis again to use this innovative system!
(8) On March 8, 2011, Michael Merrell () said:
I think that Nice Ride is a great idea and the problem is people giving up the cush cush way of travel. Get up , get on a bike FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE and RIDE. Save the environment and your health. I am implementing my own public bike share here in 3 major cities in Florida, can't wait to see what responses I get!!!!!

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