As the snow begins to melt along the shores of the Mississippi, outdoor businesses are getting back to work. Some restaurants are opening up their patio seating, while nurseries are receiving their first shipment of flowers. Meanwhile, Minneapolis’ own bike sharing company is stocking up its bike stations.
The Nice Ride bike rental service, while beginning its 5th summer in Minneapolis, has begun to release its inventory into the city as of Friday, April 11th. At the 170 stations currently in service, Nice Ride hopes to have all of its 1,500 bikes available for use within a couple of days. For those still weary of a bike sharing system, they’re offering an attractive low price 30 day membership offer. The typical yearly membership is $65. There’s also a new pay-as-you-go option, with thirty minute ride intervals.
These bikes are “specifically targeted for short term rentals,” says their website. A membership provides unlimited 60 minute rentals to any of their locations. However, if you need a longer term solution, they recommend you check out another local bike rental service. Their website includes many different paths and tours that one can experience in under the required hour between trips. Once you make a stop, just drop off your bike. Once you head to the next station, you pick up a new one. Therefore, the one hour time limit is not a big deal. It’s meant to be an easy way to get from point A to point B.
Nice Ride bike riders may be travelling much longer distances soon, though. The company plans to expand their coverage to a separate area entirely. Bemidji State University, a nearly four hour drive north in north-central Minnesota, will be the next place to carry Nice Ride bikes. And although nobody is planning on making the 215 mile trek on bike, Minneapolis natives (and current members) will have a bike waiting for them on arrival to get anywhere they need to go on campus.
However, don’t expect to identify Bemidji’s bikes by the classic neon green color. The bikes on campus will look much more traditional. These off the shelf bikes are being used due to a bottle neck by Nice Ride’s supplier. Public Bike System Company, from Quebec, is working through a bankruptcy and is temporarily freezing its future shipments to bike sharing programs. However, once things get sorted out, expect the green bikes to return.
Nice Ride bike sharing typically operates from April to November (give or take a few weeks depending on the weather). They announce on their website a week or two before the season is officially closed. Likewise, they announce when the weather is warm enough to resume operations.