Nonprofits to keep bike-sharing alive

Nice Ride, the bike-share rental program that’s been operating in the Twin Cities since 2010, has ended a sister project in Bemidji after a four-year trial run.

But the orange bikes will live on.

Nice Ride ended its sponsorship of the pilot program this month after the nonprofit’s operations were acquired by a for-profit company.

Bill Dossett, executive director of Nice Ride Minnesota, said the Bemidji fleet of about 140 bikes has been turned over to a collection of local nonprofits, including Bemidji State University and Lake Bemidji State Park, that will continue to keep bike sharing alive in the city.

A Bemidji physician, Dr. Diane Pittman, was an important force in the city’s bike-sharing efforts, Dossett said. Pittman created a wellness program, dubbed “Wheel Being,” and encouraged many of her patients to take up cycling.

“That fleet of bikes is going to stay at the university and at the state park, and Diane’s program is going to continue,” Dossett said. “And we’re thrilled.”



Lake route is state’s newest scenic byway

A grass-roots effort launched two years ago to have the 68-mile corridor around Lake Mille Lacs designated as a scenic byway finally succeeded last week, highlighting the route for tourism.

Mille Lacs joins 21 other scenic corridors in the state selected because of their natural, recreational, historical or archaeological significance, according to the Scenic Byways Commission, which is made up of the departments of transportation and natural resources, the Minnesota Historical Society and Explore Minnesota.

“Designating Lake Mille Lacs as Minnesota’s newest scenic byway corridor will encourage Minnesotans to enjoy a unique part of our state and support the Mille Lacs Area’s economic growth and vitality,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement.

The byway includes state Hwys. 169, 27, 18 and 47, and Shakopee Lake Road, a Mille Lacs County road.

The East Central Regional Development Commission and the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission were behind the effort to have the loop around Mille Lacs recognized as a scenic byway.

“The good work of the two development commissions and the support of the Lake Mille Lacs communities made this happen to ensure this northern Minnesota gem will be enhanced and preserved,” MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle said in a statement.

The state’s byways are made up of nearly 3,000 miles of designated significant corridors and “offer the best of Minnesota, by vehicle, foot or bicycle,” Zelle said.

Dan Browning