It may be a bit of a sodden re-entry, but the annual spring launch of Nice Ride Minnesota bikes began in Minneapolis on Monday, coinciding with Earth Day.
The Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization is planning to roll out 1,800 green docked bikes, which are expected to be replaced later this season with electric bikes, at 201 stations.
Some 1,500 blue dockless bikes will be introduced at about 300 hubs throughout the city, as well. This is the ninth year bike-sharing has been available in Minneapolis.
Bikes and hubs can be located on Nice Ride's smartphone app, which can also unlock bikes. Nice Ride said parking hub and station placement this year will be prioritized in Phillips, Cedar-Riverside and north Minneapolis due to its "commitment to equity and access."
Dockless bikes must be parked at taped-off hubs or at a University of Minnesota bike rack. Parking at a Nice Ride docking station for green bikes or outside a hub will result in a $5 out-of-hub fee.
A fleet of pedal-assist electric bikes will be added to the mix — a first for Minneapolis. However, the purveyor of the bikes, Lyft, has recalled thousands of e-bikes nationwide due to a braking problem.
Once the issue is resolved, the e-bikes will be rolled out in Minneapolis, according to Nice Ride.
Annual Nice Ride memberships are $75 and include unlimited 60-minute rides on the docked Nice Ride bikes. Single rides are $2 and day passes, which include unlimited 30-minute rides over a 24-hour period, are $6.
Meanwhile, St. Paul is still searching for a bike-sharing vendor after Lime pulled out of that city last year.
In an invitation issued to prospective bike-sharing providers, the city said neither docked nor dockless shared bikes "succeeded at reaching a broad user base." The city this year will pivot and focus on up to 1,000 e-bikes instead "to help users expand the range of their trips and overcome St. Paul's sometimes daunting terrain."
When asked whether St. Paul might be folded into Minneapolis' bike-sharing program, Nice Ride Executive Director Bill Dossett said, "We hear a lot about it, we certainly want to. Our long-term goal is regional. We need more time, our biggest issue is that we have some huge commitments in Minneapolis."
In other mobility news, Minneapolis announced Monday that four operators — Jump, Lyft, Spin and Lime — were selected to participate in the city's shared motorized scooter pilot program.
The city is capping the number of scooters permitted in the city at 2,000 to be divided evenly among operators. A maximum of 800 scooters will be permitted in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, and at least 600 scooters must be distributed in areas of concentrated poverty in north, northeast and south Minneapolis.
The pilot program runs through March 31, 2020.
St. Paul is slated to consider scooter vendors this month.