Federal grants allow for Nice Ride expansion

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February 21, 2013
By: Nick Halter
File photo
Nick Halter
Money will allow Nice Ride to add at least 41 bicycle stations to the Twin Cities over the next 16 months

Two federal grants will allow Nice Ride to add at least 41 bicycle stations to the Twin Cities over the next 16 months, bringing the total number of stations to nearly 200.

Earlier this week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that he was awarding the Mississippi National River and Recreation area $500,000 for the area’s bicycle sharing program. That’s on top of $843,000 he awarded last year for more stations as well as for more bus stops and connections to the river. 

Nice Ride Executive Director Bill Dossett said that federal grants and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota funding would allow for the installation of 24 new stations, complete with the unmistakable green bicycles.  

Those stations are likely to be up and running in May, although exact locations will be finalized in a couple week, Dossett said.

Dossett said to expect new stations near Minnehaha Falls, at Webber Park, Downtown, near the north side of the 35W bridge, near St. Thomas University, along River Road in St. Paul and at Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun. 

“We’re just thrilled that it’s happening and that we can keep the momentum going, he said.

Since it takes four months to lead time complete orders for new stations, the ones being installed this spring are funded by last year’s grant. Another $500,000 will fund at least 17 new stations aimed at the riverfront near North Minneapolis in 2014.

“The industry is really crazy right now because New York, Chicago, Portland, Columbus, Aspen — those are all cities launching this year with new systems, Dossett said. “A big reason for that is because it’s been successful here.”

The federal grant — from the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Discretionary Program — aims to increase connections and alternative transportation near the Mississippi River, which is a National Park in most of Minneapolis.

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Planner Susan Overson applied for the grants and said they will help connect more people to the river.

“We’re one of the few national parks that has actually worked with a bike share program in the country” Overson said.

Overson said the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is discussing a smart phone application that will allow users to plan trips to and through the park using alternative transportation. That application would likely take a year to launch, she said.

Nice Ride will open this year in early April, depending on the weather.

Nice Ride timeline: How it has grown

2010: Nice Ride launches with 65 stations, all in Minneapolis. It’s one of the first of its kind in the country

2011: 51 stations are added to Minneapolis, late in the season

2012: Nice Ride expands to St. Paul by adding 30 stations

2013: 24 stations will be added to Minneapolis and St. Paul, bringing the total number of stations to 170

2014: At least 17 stations will be added to “traditionally underserved” neighborhoods near the Mississippi River