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New Bike-Sharing System in Minneapolis

June 7, 2010

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.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2010 8:53 pm

    I just saw one of these on 8th St downtown on my way to the bus stop after work today. Great idea in theory, but I have the same problem you do– I rarely, if ever, have an extra $250 in my bank account to hold up for 24 hours. And if I did, I’d likely just buy a new bike of my own, rather than renting one by the hour that I might have to pay for should I accidentally scratch or otherwise damage it.

    If they could find a better, more accessible way to ensure that necessary repairs are covered, while also ensuring that no one steals the bikes, this would be a fantastic addition to public and shared transportation.

  2. innocentsmithjournal permalink*
    June 9, 2010 10:07 am

    Great point. If you’ve got $250 to spare, why not just buy a bike?

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