Pedaling Forward: Nice Ride Neighborhood Gains Momentum In Year Two

Share   |  Posted Jul. 30, 2015 by Paul Stucker

Continuing from a successful pilot year, the Nice Ride Neighborhood program is back in North Minneapolis, Frogtown, and East Side St. Paul, and has added an additional neighborhood to the roster with a small pilot based in Little Earth of United Tribes. The program, which loans individuals a bicycle for the duration of the riding season (May to October), provides support to those interested in creating a more active lifestyle in traditionally underserved communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul. With over 250 participants this year, the program has nearly doubled in size from its first year.

Recruitment for the program takes place in each neighborhood through partnerships with community organizations, including NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center in North Minneapolis, Model Cities in Frogtown, and St. Paul Public Housing in Frogtown and East Side St. Paul.

Most participants received their bikes during May, when the program held over 25 orientation sessions. At these sessions, riders learn about the program, the bikes, and basic safety tips, and take a short, fun ride before heading home with their bikes.

Throughout the season, riders can attend group rides. Each event will bring together participants for food and a family-paced ride, providing an opportunity to share stories and connect with an even larger community of Neighborhood Program participants. So far, each area has had two of these events, and many have had participants attending from other neighborhoods in the program to see new parts of the city from two wheels. Group rides are co-hosted with the help of organizations like the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota, St. Paul Women on Bikes, and the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.

Participants will also be introduced to two partnering community bicycle shops, Venture North and Cycles for Change, on the North Side and St. Paul respectively. Orange bikes can be taken to the shop for free maintenance and both offer a variety of educational opportunities like Riding in Traffic classes and Open Shop nights.

Juliet Mitchell, a Frogtown rider, knew about the program last year but decided that she couldn’t participate because of previous time obligations. “If I make a commitment, I’m going to do it,” said Mitchell. After 10 years away from cycling (her last bike was stolen), Mitchell has made time to participate in the 2015 program, and has been having a positive experience.

She’s particularly fond of the group ride events. “Each time we get together we learn a little something,” she said. “It’s a good cross-section of people…that sense of community is there.” She also expressed that she’s glad the group is diverse, especially in terms of age.

Mitchell, who runs a career development and life etiquette business, has found parallels in lessons from the Neighborhood program and the courses she teaches through her business. “Not only in biking, but in life, little improvements and adjustments can make a positive difference,” read a recent post-ride note on her business’s Facebook page.

The most recent addition to the Neighborhood program has Nice Ride partnering with Little Earth of United Tribes and the Indian Health Board. Participants will be offered a weekly ride opportunity. Additionally, The Hub Bike Co-op, will provide free maintenance for South Minneapolis participants. While all the orange Neighborhood bikes have been committed to participants for 2015, we’re sure to learn a lot about how we can shape this program to be even more successful in the future and serve another round of participants in 2016. For now, keep your eyes peeled for those shiny orange bikes cruising around the Twin Cities, and be ready to ring your bell in support of a new cyclist in our community.

The Neighborhood Program is made possible through funding from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

2 Previous comments:

(1) On August 25, 2015, Egil () said:
.....and still no stations at Phalen. Most of St Paul is shut out of the program. That is NOT progress.
(2) On September 21, 2015, Kelly () said:
Why are there no bikes at lake n cedar?

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Nice Ride is open to anyone 18 years of age or older.