Nice Ride Minnesota said Tuesday it has chosen a New York-based firm, Motivate International Inc., to launch a new dockless bike-sharing network in the Twin Cities.
Motivate is already the largest operator of bike-share systems in North America, operating in eight cities, including New York, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Nice Ride’s decision is contingent on approvals from federal backers, the city of Minneapolis and its park board, and the University of Minnesota. If that happens, the new dockless bikes will be rolled out this summer.
Minneapolis-based nonprofit Nice Ride Minnesota launched in 2010 and now rents some 1,850 of its signature green bikes from about 200 stations throughout the Twin Cities on a seasonal basis. Those who rent the bikes are expected to return them to any Nice Ride station.
But the bike-sharing industry is rapidly changing to a new dockless model, where bikes can be rented wherever users find them (usually by smartphone app). Riders leave them locked wherever their trip ends.
“In 2017, the bike-share world was rocked by its own success,” Nice Ride said in a news release.
Private investors poured billions into dockless bike share programs worldwide, flooding the market with more than 20 million bikes. While more bikes are available to the masses, the quality of the bikes have been a problem and many of them have been parked haphazardly.
Nice Ride requested proposals last summer for operators of a new system and sought new ideas on how bike sharing will evolve in the Twin Cities.
A local evaluation committee, comprising people from government and advocacy and business groups, reviewed proposals from six firms and narrowed the choice to two finalists: Motivate and California-based LimeBike. A public hearing followed in November to glean feedback from cyclists.
Part of the agreement with Motivate involves the firm taking over operations of the current station-based system, “assuring quality service will be in place through 2021,” Nice Ride said, adding that it expects to double the number of shared bikes in Minneapolis this year. The organization projects five times as many shared bikes in the Twin Cities by 2020.
In addition, Motivate is expected to integrate the bike-share system with transit and other mobility options, and launch electric pedal-assist and winter-specific bike programs.