Nice Ride adds 24 new stations for 2013 season
The weather might be cartwheeling between sunny 60-degrees and forecasts of flurries, but a more consistent sign of spring started showing its reassuring face last week: Nice Ride's lime green bikes, back on the street for their fourth season. Along with the seasonal re-launch comes some upgrades for the program.
When Nice Ride kicked off in June 2010, it had 700 bikes at 65 stations, most of which were concentrated close to Minneapolis's downtown core and around the lakes in Uptown. Now, four years later, the program plans to introduce 24 new stations this season, for a total of 170 throughout Minneapolis and stretching into St. Paul.
To fund the latest expansion, Nice Ride is relying on $360,000 from its signature sponsor, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota; $630,000 from the National Park Service for new stations at destinations like Lake Harriet and Minnehaha Falls; and $90,000 from Hennepin County, ear-marked for bikes along Hiawatha and Lake, the Star Tribune reports.
The program's continued expansion matches its increasing popularity. Back in July 2010, the month after it launched, it averaged 761 rides per day; by July 2011, that had jumped to 1,207 rides per day. For the 2012 season, Nice Ride added another 30 locations, and in July daily rides jumped up to an average of 1,576.
Nice Ride hit 500,000 rides in August 2012. We spoke to Mitch Vars, the program's head of IT Operations, at the time, and he predicted that at the rate the program was growing, Nice Ride could crack its millionth trip by the time bikes wheel in at the end of this 2013 season.
The full fleet of 1,500 bicycles will be up and running by mid-May. Hopefully, by then, snow will be a distant memory, and we'll all actually be able to use them.
Here's a full map of all the current locations.
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