Rochester launches Nice Ride bike program

Minneapolis charter
A Nice Ride bike rental station at West 26th Street and Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News 2013 file

Nice Ride Minnesota will open two Rochester bike sharing locations in August.

The expansion was several years in the making and follows program launches in the Twin Cities and Bemidji.

"There is a burgeoning grassroots movement of bike enthusiasts [here]," said Kim Edens, the operations manager for Nice Ride Rochester. She added that the city's many parks and trails make Rochester ideal for bike sharing.

City planners approached Nice Ride officials several years ago about bringing the bike service to Rochester. But a lack of bike-friendly infrastructure delayed the effort.

Edens said a feasibility study funded by the city later showed that a bike sharing program would likely succeed despite infrastructure limitations.

Since then, goals to increase bike routes have been incorporated into Rochester's Comprehensive Plan for 2040.

Nice Ride Rochester will have two main rental locations: the People's Food Co-Op and Peace Plaza. The pricing will be similar to programs other cities. Bike rentals will start at $8 for one hour. Bikers will also have the option of paying $20 for four hours or $30 for the entire day.

An official program launch is scheduled for Aug. 19. But Edens says it's possible the bikes will be available before then, perhaps as early as the first week of August.

Nice Ride programs in other cities have evolved into more than just a transportation service. In Minneapolis and Bemidji physicians have prescribed the bike riding program to their patients to improve their health.

Edens said she hopes Rochester will implement a similar program in the next year or two.

But for now, she said Nice Ride's main focus is to get people out on bikes to discover the trails and enjoy Rochester in a new way.

Since Nice Ride debuted in Minneapolis in 2010, the service has been used for more than 2 million bike trips in the state.

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