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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
*special thanks to TRAM (Transportation Research at McGill) for their input on this survey.
Nice Ride bikes are all one size and have been designed to accommodate riders between 5'0" and 6'6" in height. The seat height is easily adjustable. Our bikes are built for quick trips in the city by people wearing regular clothes and carrying ordinary stuff.