- Nice Ride, a Twin Cities bike-share program, is expanding in Minneapolis this month, following its winter hiatus. The program announced Minneapolis customers can expect nearly 50 new stations, hundreds of dockless bike virtual parking corrals and almost 500 new pedal-assist e-bikes.
- Nice Ride service will no longer be available in St. Paul. "Nice Ride is hopeful we can service St. Paul again in the future, but for the 2019 riding season we’re focusing on improving and expanding our service in Minneapolis," the organization's website says. The program first launched in Minneapolis in 2010 and expanded into St. Paul the following year.
- St. Paul will no longer have a bike-share program as Lime, which recently contracted with St. Paul, is also pulling its dockless bikes from the city.
U.S. cities frequently remove their traditional or dockless bike-sharing vehicles from public use during the winter. While this occurs for longer periods in cities with well-known inclement weather — such as the Twin Cities — ridership generally is lower during the winter, even in cities with less intense cold and snow. Coming back from the seasonal hiatus is a natural time to make program changes.
St. Paul's omission from the Nice Ride program comes as a surprise to some, but others believe it's due to hard feelings over the city — and a couple of suburbs — choosing Lime as a dockless bike-share provider last year instead of adopting Nice Ride's newly launched dockless program. When St. Paul went with Lime for dockless, it still remained a part of Nice Ride's traditional service.
While this may seem like a case of sour grapes, Nice Ride made clear last year that its program was making a slow transition to all-dockless vehicles. St. Paul was already set with a dockless program via Lime — up until last month — which may be the reason Nice Ride discontinued service in the city.
Lime's decision to leave St. Paul less than one year into its two-year contract has left the city in the lurch. A city transportation engineer told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press that St. Paul is working on a request for proposals for bike-share providers to operate in the city this year. No mention has been made of working directly with Nice Ride to resume service, despite the organization's online statement that leaves open the possibility.
Although Nice Ride had served both of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis was by far the dominant service area. When comparing some of the main bike hubs in both cities, Minneapolis frequently had more than double the annual trips than St. Paul. Nice Ride has said in the past that Minneapolis was a more profitable market than St. Paul.