Nice Ride Minnesota Chooses Motivate

Share   |  Posted Jan. 16, 2018 by Bill Dossett

Nice Ride Minnesota has chosen Motivate’s proposal for transition of the Twin Cities’ bike share system. Since it was conceived in 2008, Nice Ride has aspired to be a model for public and private partners working together to seize opportunities. Our vision statement states: “Nice Ride will stand as a working example of how our state, cities, and industries create programs that meet critical and shared public goals.” As bike sharing and all shared use mobility services continue to grow and change, Nice Ride is excited to refresh its public-private partnership to match the challenges of this time.
Nice Ride Minnesota has selected Motivate, the largest operator of bike share systems in North America, as its transition subcontractor. Motivate will:

  • take over operation of the current station-based system, assuring quality service will be in place through 2021 and fulfilling our commitments to public funders;
  • commit to service levels to achieve equity, quality and reliability goals higher than any other dockless bike provider;
  • deliver, seamlessly integrated with the current system, a dockless bike pilot; we expect this pilot will double the number of shared bikes in Minneapolis in 2018; if all goes well, we envision a 5x expansion by 2020;
  • innovate to make dockless bike share an orderly and efficient addition to the public realm;
  • integrate with transit and other mobility options more conveniently than any other bike share operator can offer;
  • launch an electric pedal-assist bike share pilot and a winter-specific bike pilot.

Subject to approval of our transition plan by federal funders, the city of Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board expect to see new Motivate dockless bikes on the street beginning the summer of 2018.

Nice Ride selected Motivate because of who it is and what it has done:

Who Motivate is:

  • Motivate is North America’s leading bike share firm, operating systems in eight cities including New York, Chicago and the Bay Area. Since being acquired in 2014 by a group of long-term investors, including the CEOs of Related Companies and Equinox, it has successfully undertaken major, multi-year expansions in both New York and Chicago, and launched Ford GoBike in the Bay Area, as well as Nike’s BIKETOWN in Portland. After integrating with 8D Technologies in early 2017, Motivate has also been building its in-house product portfolio, beginning with the Motivate bike, and working closely with some of the leading names in bike share to co-develop products including new docking mechanisms, eBikes and smart bikes.
  • Led by a group of seasoned urban visionaries, creative leaders and technology innovators, Motivate’s mission is to revolutionize the landscape of our cities. In an effort to completely transform the urban experience, Motivate is leading the way in making cities more accessible, healthier and sustainable. Motivate creates safe and dependable systems that help make cities great by connecting individuals to the people and places they love.

What Motivate has done:

  • Operated the largest systems in the United States since 2010;
  • Invested in quality: its bikes are manufactured to last longer and provide a safer, more fun ride;
  • Built the best technology, like continuously variable transmission, into its bikes;
  • Committed to being a great employer: paid fair wages and benefits and created a safe and inclusive working environment for all employees;
  • Launched equity initiatives in large cities including New York City: (1 2 3), Portland, Chicago and  San Francisco so that bike share is accessible to more people;
  • Integrated with transit systems and ApplePay;
  • Led the charge for open data and standardization of real time data formats;
  • Increased sustainability of rebalancing through the innovative Bike Angels program and bike rebalancing trailers.


Want more background on this decision? Read on:

Nice Ride Minnesota created the first non-profit business plan for modern bike sharing in 2008.  Working hand-in-hand with the city of Minneapolis, we applied for federal grants and solicited sponsorship to buy bikes and stations before most Americans had ever heard of bike sharing. The plan worked. In eight years, Nice Ride grew to over 1,850 bikes in 200 stations and became a recognized leader through initiatives to enhance quality, reliability, equity and transit integration.

In 2017, the bike share world was rocked by its own success. Private investors put billions of dollars into a new innovation—free-floating dockless bike share. In less than a year, start-ups added over twenty-million dockless bikes to the global bike share fleet, generating over 50 million trips per day. These start-ups offer more bikes in more places at lower cost than ever before. There have been problems, however: low-quality levels and bikes parked chaotically in the public realm.

Last summer, the Nice Ride board of directors faced a decision: protect the old non-profit business model which was quickly becoming obsolete, or be proactive and move toward new privately-funded technologies while addressing the challenges this model presents. The board chose the proactive approach, publishing a request for transition proposals in August. The RFP included multiple goals: service continuity, equity, quality, reliability, innovation and integration.

A local evaluation committee which included individuals working in government, advocacy and business reviewed proposals from six entrepreneurs and selected two finalists, Motivate and LimeBike. Our finalists presented their visions to our evaluation committee and at a public meeting at Macalester College in November. The committee scored the proposals against the goals of the RFP and Motivate’s proposal scored the highest. The Nice Ride board of directors received these scores in December and voted to adopt the results of the evaluation, directing staff to begin negotiating with Motivate the terms of a transition agreement. That agreement will be conditional on approval by our federal grantors, the City of Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.

About Nice Ride Minnesota
Launched in 2010, Nice Ride Minnesota is the nonprofit organization that operates the Twin Cities bike sharing system. Our mission is to enhance quality of life by providing convenient, easy to use bike sharing and fleet programs that will provide residents and visitors a healthy, fun, different way to get around town. We are part of a growing community of people and organizations working for active lifestyles, vibrant cities and livable public spaces. We’re helping build that community by making it easy for everyone to ride a bike and to feel safe and welcome while riding.

2 Previous comments:

(1) On January 18, 2018, Lisa Vongchingtrong () said:
Exciting news! Super grateful to live in a city where going car-free is an option. Quick question - would this proposal change or delay the start of the NiceRide season this spring? What month are NiceRides usually available?
(2) On February 23, 2018, Matt Janssen () said:
Is it true that Motivate’s dockless bikes require users to have a working smartphone to use the system? If so, this is a big bummer for our family and others, as we have kids who use the system but don't have smartphones. We also like to have "disconnect" days where we explore the city without our devices, and we often use our Nice Ride RFID keys to check out bikes.

I hope these new dockless bikes will accept the same RFID keys we've come to rely upon. I know car2go's vehicles accepted RFID cards (as well as smartphones), so the technology does exist.

Post a Comment

Get your Nice Ride Key

Nice Ride key

Seasonal and Pay-as-you-go subscribers have quick easy access to Nice Ride bikes. With a Nice Ride key, there's no need to use the pay station, just insert your key and go. It takes only seconds to get on a bike.