Minneapolis residents who use food or transit assistance programs can now try more affordable biking through Nice Ride for All, a program launched Wednesday by the bike-sharing system Nice Ride.
Eligible individuals will pay just $5 for the first year of membership if they sign up for the program online by Aug. 15.
After that, the membership will cost $5 per month for the months they ride, as opposed to $18 a month for regular members. Officials say more than 65,000 people who receive food stamps or financial assistance for transit are eligible to participate.
"Affordable biking is more than about access to opportunities," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said at a news conference launching the program. "We are reducing carbon footprints. Getting on a bike and going to your local job or barber shop or grocery store totally changes the paradigm of community and communication."
To sign up for Nice Ride for All, low-income individuals can visit niceridemn.com/nicerideforall and register with the number from their Go-To Card or the EBT card they use for federal food assistance.
Bill Dossett, Nice Ride executive director, said he does not have a target number of people he hopes participate in the new program. He added that the biggest challenge will be to getting the word out about it.
Nice Ride has selected three program ambassadors — employees of NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center — to reach out to people.
"If you want to change people's lifestyles, you do it by building communities," Dossett said. "They are people from the community who work within the community."
Will Lumpkins, one of the bike-share ambassadors, will be working in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
"We will meet them at concerts, outdoor events, neighborhood meetings, festivals and bus stops, among other places," he said.
There is an extra perk for Nice Ride for All members: When they check out electric bikes, set to arrive later this year, they will not have to pay the additional $1 per trip regular members pay.
Dossett said Nice Ride will add new hubs across the city for the new program, but is not procuring extra bikes.
"There are 1,800 of the older green bikes plus 1,500 new blue bikes that were launched last year," he said.