The biggest bike-sharing program of its kind in the U.S. will be launched as part of Bike Walk Week in Minneapolis.
Bicyclists examined an automated bike kiosk Saturday near the Birchwood Cafe. Starting Thursday, 65 such kiosks in Minneapolis will allow people to check out a bike with a credit card. The basic rental is $5 for same-day use; a year’s subscription will cost $60.
You may not need a bike for this year's Bike Walk Week.
The annual celebration of alternative commuting will culminate Thursday with the official launch of a bike-sharing system in Minneapolis that organizers say will be the largest of its kind in the United States. Nice Ride will feature more than 700 neon green and sky-blue but otherwise sensible bikes docked at 65 solar-powered, automated kiosks around Minneapolis, where anyone with a credit card can check one out for a ride.
The idea, said Bill Dossett, executive director of Nice Ride MN, is to provide short-distance, fuel-free transportation (and exercise) to people who aren't bike commuters. "What it's all about is to make it easy for people who got downtown a different way to use a bike to take short trips when they're downtown," Dossett said. "They're for people who might like to take a three-mile trip to go buy something, or meet some friends, go hear music, whatever."
The $3.2 million system is being funded by a $1 million donation from Blue Cross Blue Shield, $1.75 million in federal money provided by Transit for Livable Communities, and contributions from the city of Minneapolis and corporations. It's modeled after systems in Montreal, Barcelona and Paris, and will be dismantled for the winter months. Basic rental will cost $5 for same-day use.
This year's Bike Walk Week comes shortly after Bicycling Magazine's designation of Minneapolis as the nation's No. 1 biking city. Officials and advocates note that this year should also bring significant expansions of bike trails and lanes, including completion of a connection of the Cedar Lake Trail to West River Road, more miles of painted bike lanes and 8 miles of "bike boulevards" in Minneapolis -- quiet side streets that will be redesigned to attract bicyclists with signs, improved crossings and traffic calming devices. Statewide, meanwhile, streets and roads up for construction or remodel will be designed with bicycles, pedestrians and other non-car users in mind under a measure passed by the Legislature. Bike Walk Week will also feature a full schedule of activities. More information is available at www.bikewalkweek.org.
Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646