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Bike Walk Week culminates Thursday with bike-share program

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Perez bikes home
Each afternoon when his shift at the Mississippi Market is over, Perez bikes all the way home to Stillwater about twenty miles away. It takes him, on average, an hour and thirty minutes. This week sees the launch of what organizers say is the largest bike sharing program in the country, Nice Ride.
MPR Photo/Ambar Espinoza

This year's week-long celebration to encourage commuters to bike and walk to work culminates Thursday with the launch of what organizers say is the largest bike sharing program in the country.

Elected officials will cut the ribbon on a Nice Ride kiosk on Nicollet Mall on Thursday, and the program will allow commuters to pick up a bike at one station and ride it to another every April through November.

"We think it's going to help make bicycling another widely accepted form of transportation," said Amber Collett, a spokeswoman for Transit for Livable Communities, one of the groups organizing Bike Walk Week. "It will enable people to make connections throughout the Twin Cities.

Bike Walk Week has been a week-long celebration in the Twin Cities since 2008, and the groups organizing it plan to expand their efforts this year into seasonal events.

Collett said a bike-walk week is planned for October, and there are also plans for a designated week in the winter.

This week's events also include a movie screening about making mass transit, biking and walking the main modes of transportation and two organized rides for women to help them feel comfortable on city streets. Collett said the women's rides were planned after organizers found in a survey that 72 percent of cyclists in the Twin Cities are men.

Registration numbers for the various events are up 23 percent from last year, and organizers expect thousands of more people to sign up before the end of the week, Collett said. 

Collett said one reason for the increased interest could be an increase in the number of people biking and walking to work. Recent U.S. Census data shows the trend.

"Biking and walking is a legitimate mode of transportation, and people are beginning to see that," she said.