Bike Sharing

In the parlance of the day, the buzz word for livable cities, the “commons”is the place where pedestrians move about under their own locomotion. How you get to the commons in a livable city is by walking, riding a bike or public transit. Now there is another way to move about. Bike share is a subscription system showing up in cities around the world. One city which has a new system is Minneapolis. The first season with Nice Ride, a non-profit group that is funded through public and private partnership is eyeing 2011.Transportation grants and the giant tobacco settlement granted to Minnesota fuel this enterprise. Nice Ride has recently surveyed some its riders and released ride data which helps understand the challenges and success for Nice Ride  click on http://tinyurl.com/234bfr9 for survey.

The Minneapolis commons has a total number  of 700 Nice Ride bicycles in the system with 65 solar powered kiosk. To be fair with most new technology there are going to be early adopters, which are not typical of the general population as this survey demographic shows. Educated, 83% with a college degree, masters or doctorate, white 85%, male 62% and wealthy 65% over 60k household income. How these numbers will change in the future will depend primarily on subsidizing low income subscribers on the North side  and the addition of 8 kiosk in North for the 2011 season. These early numbers also imply that Nice Ride has a full time job to seek additional funding to expand in other demographics within the commons.   A 5.8 million dollar expansion can only be accomplished by raising 4.5 million dollars that guarantees a matching grant of 1.5 million in tobacco settlement money from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. As Nice Ride is all about short trips for transportation and BCBS is all about health benefits how does Bike Share influence the rising tide of bicycle ridership? The second year numbers of rides per day per bicycle have to go up for success. The slow start in 2010 during 150 days of operation saw 100,000 rides split between 700 bikes for 666 rides per day, or .95 rides per bike.  It was claimed that one rider, a grad student VRTN, took 472 rides. Somewhere in these extremes lies the success of Nice Ride Minnesota. Ten rides per bike as claimed by the city of Dublin bike share systems was reported on the Bike Share Blog. and indicates how fast a system can grow in a proper commons. “The City Council of Dublin, Ireland yesterday approved a tenfold expansion of the Dublin bike-sharing program from 500 to 5,000 bikes, according to the Irishtimes. The wildly successful Dublinbikes is one of the most popular bike-sharing systems in Europe. Many of the current 450 bikes are being used around 10 times a day.

The approval foresees the expansion over five years. The number of bike stations will grow from today’s 40 to nearly 300. The JCDecaux system in operation since September 2009, has signed up more than 47,000 subscribers. That is over 100 subscribers per bike. By comparison Paris has around 8 per bike and Washington, DC around 5 subscribers per bike. For many of those Dublinbikers, even with the snow, 5 years can’t come soon enough!”
The addition of bike share to the commons in Minneapolis is through the dedication of many partners. When you come to the city next year try Nice Ride and discover with thousands of hometown bicyclists our life in the commons.
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