Share | Posted Nov. 10, 2010 by Roepke Public Relations
Nice Ride Minnesota's first season came to a close this week, but planning for next season is in full gear as today Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota President and CEO Pat Geraghty announced a pledge of up to $1.5 million for the expansion of the Nice Ride Minnesota bike share system. This is a challenge pledge. If Nice Ride Minnesota secures other funding equal to two-thirds of the cost of added bikes and stations, Blue Cross will commit the other one-third, up to $1.5 million. As in Phase 1, Blue Cross will use proceeds from the historic tobacco litigation, not premium dollars, for this sponsorship.
"We all know physical activity is important to our health and it's important that the healthy choice is the easy choice,"said Geraghty. "That's why Blue Cross joined forces with Nice Ride Minnesota, so people could easily fit exercise into their daily routine. With the inaugural year behind us, we've seen how Nice Ride Minnesota is already transforming our community, and we're excited about the possibility of bringing the system to even more Minnesotans."
"This pledge is a huge boost to the future of Nice Ride Minnesota!"said Nice Ride Minnesota Executive Director, Bill Dossett. "In 2008, before we had an office or a single dollar committed from other sources, Blue Cross stepped up and pledged its support. That pledge was essential to securing public funds for Phase 1. Without Blue Cross taking the initiative, our public/private partnership would not have happened, and Nice Ride Minnesota would not exist,"Dossett said. "Today's $1.5 million pledge sets the stage for another public/private partnership for Phase 2 of the bike share project."
Planning for Phase 2 is underway now, with public planning workshops in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Preliminary plans call for expansion in all neighborhoods around the current downtown Minneapolis service area, in downtown St. Paul, and in the corridor bounded by University Avenue and Grand Avenue. This will enable Nice Ride Minnesota to serve Central Corridor light rail users and all of the colleges and universities between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
These expansion plans are a result of the success Nice Ride Minnesota has achieved in its first year. Minnesotans and visitors took more than 100,000 rides on Nice Ride bikes since the June 10, 2010, launch! Bike share has been accepted as a smart, healthy transportation solution. With only two bikes missing, the system has proven to be rugged, dependable, fun, and easy to use. Planners from all over the country are looking to Minneapolis - the #1 cycling city in the U.S. in 2010 - as a model.
"When residents and visitors take more than 100,000 rides on America's largest bike-share system in only five months, there can be no disputing the fact that Minneapolis is indeed America's #1 bicycling city,"said Mayor R.T. Rybak. "And as successful as we have been this year, the best is yet to come: with the very generous help of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and the continued commitment of our other strong partners, Nice Ride Minnesota will serve even more people and more neighborhoods in more innovative ways starting next year."
Special guest, Blue Cross' do Groove Guy, was on hand to celebrate this announcement and congratulate three contest winners who wrapped up a successful first year:
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