Nice Ride Minnesota is getting rid of its “dockless” blue bikes after just one season and will replace them with pedal-assist electric bikes.
Lyft, which owns the popular bike-sharing program that turns 10 next year, says it plans to deploy about 2,000 e-bicycles that give riders a motorized boost as they pedal. And it won’t bring back the blue bikes that allowed users to park at hubs throughout Minneapolis rather than having to dock them at stations like riders of the shiny green bikes do.
Not only will the new fleet of e-bikes give riders extra power, they come with new technology that will give them a greater flexibility to end their trips where they want.
E-bike users will be able to use the Nice Ride app or key fob to unlock a bike, and when finished dock them side by side with the green bikes at any of the traditional Nice Ride stations. Users also will be able to end a trip by docking a bike at one of 200 to 250 proposed “lightweight” stations that would largely be set up where dockless bike parking spots are currently designated with signs and stalls painted on sidewalks. The “lightweight” stations will be smaller than the traditional stations that feature several bike docking stalls and checkout kiosks.
In a third option, pending city approval, riders will be able to use a cable attached to the e-bikes to lock them to any public bike rack in Minneapolis to end their trip. That convenience will come with an extra $1 fee per trip that will be used to offset the cost of retrieving bikes and changing batteries or getting them back to a charging station. Riders won’t pay the extra $1 fee if e-bikes are returned to a docking station.
Nice Ride rolled out about 50 e-bikes this year, but the technology didn’t allow for tracking and enforcing parking requirements. The technology also will help operators of the bike-share program keep better tabs on the whereabouts of their bikes, said Nice Ride Executive Director Bill Dossett.
“Lyft has moved on to great new products,” Dossett said. “We will have much better detail where a trip ended.”
The classic green bikes, which are the workhorse of Nice Ride’s fleet, will continue to be available in 2020. Fees to use them next year will remain unchanged at $2 for rides of 30 minutes or shorter. Those who check out e-bikes will pay an additional 10 cents per minute. The fee will be an additional 5 cents per minute for members who are part of the Nice Ride for All program for low-income users. The reduced e-bike rate also will be extended to those who are part of Metro Transit’s Transit Assistance Program or anybody on SNAP, the federal government’s nutritional assistance program.
Nice Ride will put away its green bikes Nov. 17, and the blue dockless bikes on Nov. 30.
Hwy. 12 safety project begins
The segment of Hwy. 12 running from Wayzata to Delano has earned the unfortunate nickname “Corridor of Death” as records show 24 people died and 239 were injured in a total of 811 crashes between 2011 and 2016, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
State and local officials, including U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips recently toured the deadly stretch of highway and vowed to push for funding for safety improvements. MnDOT will start one job this week between Maple Plain and Delano.
MnDOT spokesman David Aeikens said workers will install rubber poles, called delineators, in the center of the highway to help prevent drivers from crossing the centerline.
Drivers can expect delays as the highway will be reduced to one lane when workers are present. Flaggers will direct traffic. The project should take about eight days, including weekends, Aeikens said.
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