Nice Ride bike program gets grant for expansion

Checking out a bike kiosk
Friends Mark Hawkins, right, and Sherri Juenemann stopped to check out one of the new Nice Ride bicycle kiosks near the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis Wednesday, June 9, 2010. Nice Ride is the largest bike sharing program in the country, and allows riders to pick up, use, and drop off bicycles throughout Minneapolis for a user fee.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota has pledged $1.5 million toward expanding the Nice Ride bike-sharing program next year.

Nice Ride Minnesota director Bill Dossett says the money is a challenge pledge -- meaning they will receive the full amount only if they can raise an additional $3 million in public funds.

Dossett says if that happens, they can more than double the size of the current network.

"What we are looking at is an expansion that would go to neighborhoods around the Minneapolis downtown core, would get all the way to downtown St. Paul, and would fill in the area between University, where the new light rail will go, and Grand Avenue where there's so many colleges and universities," said Dossett.

Dossett describes the first season of the Nice Ride program as a success, with patrons taking 100,000 trips on the signature green bikes. Of the 700 bikes used in the program, only two have disappeared.

Dossett says next year, Nice Ride will concentrate more on marketing, and encourage more riders to sign up for yearly subscriptions.

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