and Nice Ride MN Launch Crowdsourcing Bikeshare Project


A Nice Ride station on Lyndale Avenue.

Kickoff Happy Hour and Project Presentation on Wednesday September 16, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the McKnight Foundation (near Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater).

[See Facebook invite here.] and Nice Ride Minnesota are excited to announce a new joint project to crowdsource analysis and recommendations for the evolution of the Twin Cities bikeshare system. Nice Ride is looking for ideas, advice and recommendations for station locations, system operations and overall system development from the mobility-savvy readers and writers of At the end of the project, recommendations will be compiled by Nice Ride, and assembled into a new plan to guide system growth for the period 2016 to 2020.



Detail of the Nice Ride system map of downtown Minneapolis.

Nice Ride Minnesota owns and operates the Twin Cities bikeshare system. The system was one of the first in the US, launching in June of 2010 with 65 stations. It operates from April to November every year, and has almost tripled in size and coverage to 190 stations in 2015. Organized as a non-profit entity, Nice Ride funds its operations and stations through user fees, grants and sponsorships.

Nice Ride’s current network covers a variety of territory, from central business districts to university campuses, neighborhood commercial nodes, residential areas and regional parks. Not all stations are equally popular. The busiest station is used almost 100 times as much as the slowest station. If bikeshare is to grow sustainably and help improve transportation in the Twin Cities, the system needs to provide more stations at locations where they will be well-used.

When Nice Ride started, bikeshare programs were quite new. But now we have years of experience with programs across the country showing patterns, data and trends across cities and within neighborhoods. Recent national studies make recommendations for station density and locations, comparing Nice Ride to systems in places like Chicago, New York City, and Mexico City. Those reports never closely examine the performance of different stations within the system. But we wish someone would.

This is where you come in.

Questions to consider

The mission of Nice Ride is to enhance urban quality of life by providing a fun, healthy way to get around town. How can we best accomplish this goal with limited resources?

We’re asking for your help in thinking about how to make the best possible bike share system. This might mean answering one (or more) of the following questions:

  1. Where in the Twin Cities does the green bike system work best? How do land-use, density, and parking cost/availability shape bike share usage? What else correlates strongly?
  2. Are there zones where a denser grid of stations (i.e., a station every two blocks) will maximize utilization? What are the current boundaries of those zones? Will those zones expand with new development? How far?
  3. Are there destinations outside the “dense grid zone” where isolated bike share stations can work with high utilization? What are the characteristics of those destinations and how far from the dense grid zone can they be?
  4. Should any stations be placed in lower-density neighborhoods (single-family residential districts)? If yes, in which neighborhoods and at what density?
  5. How should Nice Ride address equity goals in distributing stations and making the system and its stations accessible to the diversity of communities and populations in the Twin Cities?
  6. Assuming Nice Ride could add 10-20 new bike share stations each year for the next five years (50 to 100 total) – where should those stations be placed, and how should their deployment be staged?
  7. What new tools and approaches should Nice Ride explore to make it easy for more people in Minnesota to choose active transportation?



One example of a visualization of of Nice Ride trips.

September 16 Kickoff Happy Hour and Project Process

To launch the project, Nice Ride and will host a kick-off Happy Hour and presentation on Wednesday September 16, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The event will be held at the McKnight Foundation, 710 S 2nd St, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (near Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater).

For years, Nice Ride has made their data available to the public at Using the data, you can see location and utilization of each Nice Ride station over the first five years of operations as well as other related planning documents, references and data sets.

From now until October 21st, readers and writers are encouraged to dig into the data and develop responses to one or more questions. Send your responses for publication on and help guide the next steps for the Twin Cities bikeshare system.

Anyone who participates in this project and publishes a post responding to these questions on will receive a free one-year bikeshare membership, as well as other goodies from Nice Ride. At the end of October, Nice Ride and will hold a wrap-up forum at Surly Beer Hall to discuss results, distribute prizes, and provide a roadmap for next steps.

After the project is over, Nice Ride will prepare a public report summarizing all the solutions, opinions and ideas published on, and will use this report as a foundation for its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, which, once approved by the Nice Ride Board of Directors will guide its next five years of operation.

We’re excited to see the results of this data-driven, grassroots project. We hope you’re just as excited to help Nice Ride be the best bike share system it can be.

How to participate

If you have an account, simply pick one of the above questions, draft a post, and set it to ‘pending.’ We’ll take a look at it and get it up ASAP, and you’ll be set up for a Nice Ride prize. There are no rules about the kinds of answers you can provide. Everything is on the table. Choose whatever “scale” of analysis you like. It could be something as simple as comparing two similar stations, or something as complex as tackling the data system-wide.

If anyone would like to help signing up for, writing a post or getting access to the Nice Ride data, feel free to email with questions.

Initial resources

You can learn more about Nice Ride and about bikeshare by visiting the resources below:

Nice Ride Minnesota website:

Nice Ride’s five-year assessment – provides an overview of the bikeshare system’s history, planning efforts, and ongoing initiatives:

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)’s report “Walkable Station Spacing Is Key to Successful, Equitable Bike Share:”

The Atlantic’s CityLab “Future of Transportation” article on Nice Ride:

If you’d like to recommend a specific station location (rather than offering system-wide recommendations), please use our “Suggest a Station” tool:


A Nice Ride user in downtown Minneapolis.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.