New Bike-Sharing System in Minneapolis
Last Friday, my wife and I had date night at the Birchwood Café in Minneapolis. The food and atmosphere were great — but what really caught my attention was the fleet of bikes on the sidewalk. So after dinner I wandered out to the kiosk, where I discovered that the bikes could be rented for $5 a day with a swipe of the credit card.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the Birchwood kiosk is part of a citywide bike-sharing system that will have its official launch this Thursday, and will be the “largest of its kind in the United States,” according to the Star Tribune. Nor was I aware that, as the Strib also reports, Bicycling Magazine recently designated Minneapolis as “the nation’s No. 1 biking city.”
Kind of makes me proud to be a Minneapolitan.
The one big drawback to bike rental is the $250 security deposit. I mean, obviously Nice Ride Minnesota (the non-profit responsible for the biking sharing plan) has to prevent theft — a uniquely challenging task, given that the kiosks are automated and people simply ride off on the bikes. At the same time, I can’t remember the last time I had that amount of money sitting idly in my bank account, a limitation in which I am surely not alone.
Overall, I am a very enthusiastic supporter of bike-sharing. Were I not commuting to a suburb 45 miles south of the Twin Cities this Thursday, I’d be tempted to join Nice Ride on its inaugural bike ride.