As Nice Ride Minnesota begins its 2014 season as early as this weekend, users of the popular bike sharing program will be able to use the two-wheelers longer and try a new pay-as-you membership option.
The shiny green bikes are being deployed today and the service could begin as early as Saturday, said spokesman Anthony Ongaro.
In the biggest change to the service, membership holders will be able to use them for 60 minutes without incurring additional trip charges. Previously rides were limited to 30 minutes.
A new payment structure is also being offered for 2014. Full membership remains at $65 ($55 for students) for the 215-day season, but a new option is a 30-Day Pay-As-You Go plan. Riders can buy a month of access for $15. They can renew at any time and pay another $15 for another month.
Members, either full or the pay-as-go variety, will be charged $3 extra for any trip between 61 and 90 minutes and $6 for rides lasting longer.
Nonmembers can use the bikes on a daily basis for $6 a day. The day pass allows users to take as many 30-minute rides in a 24-hour period as they wish. Extra fees are charged for trips lasting longer than 30 minutes.
Last year was a highly successful season for Nice Ride Minnesota. Daily membership (those who took out 24-hour subscriptions) grew by more than 13,500, and collectively users took more than 305,000 rides an 11 percent increase from 2012.
The service greatly expanded its presence by adding 228 bikes and opening 24 new stations in several Minneapolis parks and along the Mississippi River and on the Lake Street and Hiawatha corridors. It relocated its call center from Canada to Minneapolis to better connect with its users. In late August, it launched its new “Hidden Wonders in Minneapolis Parks,” a website featuring a wealth of lesser-known information and scenic spots in Minneapolis parks.
And on Aug. 3, the bike-share program recorded a single-day record when riders took 3,451 trips.