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.

37 thoughts on “ and Nice Ride MN Launch Crowdsourcing Bikeshare Project

      1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        I have had the thought, “Could I Nice Ride to Richfield?” Only to realize, no, I can’t.

        Maybe some day, but it seems like there’s more to build out in the city first.

      2. Eric AnondsonEric Anondson

        Nice Ride is basically a network. I don’t see that it would work out well if you just drop nice ride racks far away from any other racks. I think the suburbs that should be looked at first are the suburbs that are nearest to significant concentrations of Minneapolis or Saint Paul Nice a Ride stations.

        Falcon Heights, Saint Anthony Village, Roseville (being nearest the Saint Paul campus), Saint Louis Park (nearest the concentration at the lakes) seem like good early candidates. As Nice Ride grows its concentrations of stations in the south most Minneapolis neighborhoods then Richfield becomes a good target, and to the northwest then Robbinsdale becomes a good target, to the north east up Central then Columbia Heights might look good.

        Brooklyn Center, Fridley, Edina either feel to distant for now or don’t have good cycling infrastructure to support.

    1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      What we’ve been told for Richfield so far is that it would be on the neighborhood program, the orange bikes. The previous language was that Richfield would be on the “greater Minnesota” bikeshare plan, but the terminology seems to have become a bit more inclusive.

      I get that it’s not feasible to blanket single-family everything in Nice Ride stations, but as connections exist today and continue to improve, I think it would make a lot of sense to build them along trail corridors expanding into the first ring.

      The Hopkins Depot hub would probably the #1 site in my book, perhaps paired with a rack on Mainstreet. As connections improve, Taft Park and Veterans Park in Richfield would also make a lot of sense.

      1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

        Digging through the existing data would be a good exercise. Given how NR is working or not working in Saint Paul, would a Richfield expansion make any sense?

        Richfield = STP Lite

          1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

            Richfield is a surprisingly good place to bike. They have a grid of rather quiet streets that are straight, flat and low in car traffic and a growing network of facilities on the bigger through streets. I don’t live in either, but seems way ahead of St. Paul.

          2. Lowell Huesers

            I personally think one reason that NR isn’t getting used much in St. Paul is that NR started in Minneapolis. The Twin-Town rivalry is deep. Put that on top of fewer cyclists, plus a small town resistance to change, and you’ve got a strong case for why St. Paul hasn’t jumped on the NR bandwagon.

            1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

              Maybe, but more likely seems like the fact that St Paul has terrible bike facilities.

              I rode next to speeding semis in the debris-strewn should that is the Pierce Butler “bike route” and then down the even more debris-strewn shoulder of the Prior “bikeway” today. Almost unusuable, but they did make the door zone lane on Marshall seem relatively good.

              And people use the existence of these terrible facilities to prevent adding new ones, like along Cleveland.

              Add to that noticeably more hostile drivers, and it’s no surprise that bike sure doesn’t work as well.

        1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

          This is what happens when I fail to “subscribe to comments”, apparently. Just saw this!

          I’m not sure I fully understand the dynamics of what makes St. Paul’s implementation not successful. If it is simply the lack of density overall not bringing enough users/customers, I’m not sure Richfield fares much better — although in its small size, there are pretty distinct corridors of higher density, like Old Cedar Avenue and 66th Street. (Old Cedar is getting an off-road trail connecting to Nokomis as we speak, and 66th slated to be transformed with two one-way cycletracks in 2017.)

          Nice Ride staff seemed to specifically indicate it was a lack of infrastructure that was the biggest barrier for St. Paul, especially in downtown — and I think Richfield is already stronger than St. Paul there, and slated to get much better yet over the next 3-5 years. The single-family home blocks are less dense than typical St. Paul blocks, however.

          The degree of investment for a small inner-ring city like Richfield or Hopkins is also much smaller. I think they could experiment with either with 2-3 additional stations — whereas going into downtown St. Paul from the more established Minneapolis network took dozens.

    2. Steve Nimchuk

      +1. I live near Excelsior & Grand in Saint Louis Park and there are no Nice Ride stations to travel to nearby Lake Calhoun.

  1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    Surface level observation: there should maybe be a few stations somewhere within the large triangle bounded by Lake Street on the North, Hiawatha on the east, Minnehaha Parkway on the south and Lake Harriet on the west.

    48th & Chicago would seem like an obvious place, but there have to be some places along the Park/Portland pair of bike lanes that would get use too.

    1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

      My neighborhood organization (which covers 48th and Chicago) has looked into using our funds to sponsor a station. But the capital costs for a station are prohibitively expensive for a small non-profit even if it matches our mission.

    2. Sarah

      I agree. There’s so much missed opportunity to connect those areas with the stations already in place along the Hiawatha corridor, for Blue Line transit connections where bus service leaves much to be desired.

      For example, how about a Nice Ride corridor between Lake Harriet and the 38th Street Station, via Bryant, Nicollet, the new Seward Coop Friendship store, Chicago, Bloomington, Cedar, 23rd, and 28th, all along 38th and/or the River Lake Greenway?

      Same concept could work on 42nd, 46th, 48th, and/or Minnehaha Creek.

  2. steve

    I would love to see more racks setup at city parks and along bike boulevards. I also think they should consider making micro racks – holding 3-7 bikes for less dense/used areas. One failed rack I can see is along Lyndale in front of Super America. What user wants to check out a bike that prompts you to ride on Lyndale? (move it to Bryant (where bike flow is much safer)) In contrast – I praise them for making a rack off most Greenline stops. Makes for great multi-mode transportation

    One other area I feel they could step up is addressing special events and promoting mobile racks that would be at the event (they mentioned they would do something like that this summer but no events since the 4th of July)

    1. janne

      Steve, have you looked at the data for that “failed” rack? I’ve had friends note that they were dropping their bikes off there and walking home, so give me data rather than unsubstantiated assertions of “failure.”

      I’d rather have a Lyndale location, as I’m more likely to ride a NiceRide up Bryant on my way to the Wedge Coop or the nearby HourCar or Caffetto. Let me drop by my destination, don’t make me hike to my destination from Bryant.

  3. Steve Nimchuk

    I suggest that local guy, Doug Shidell, of Bikeverywhere be contacted to incorporate his Twin Cities Bike Map data into Nice Ride. He’s an excellent resource of all things related to bike routes.

  4. Nick

    I’m skeptical of talking about suburban expansion when there is still plenty room to expand within Minneapolis. Places where I’ve noted thinking “I’d use Nice Ride to get there if I could…” include 26th & Minnehaha, 46th & Nicollet, 46th & Portland, and NE Broadway (at either Tyler of Fillmore)

    That’s not even considering how poorly the “back” of my neighborhood (Marcy-Holmes) is covered by stations. Nothing north of the 4th street ‘wall of traffic’ between Central and 15th despite a large student population that should theoretically be a good user base. Also, Downtown East has no stations right now, hopefully some will come back when construction is done.

    1. Matt Brillhart

      I’d have to agree. There’s a whole lot of space between 36th (the current southern limit for all intents and purposes, excepting a couple park stations) and 62. It is WAY too premature to be talking about stations in the first-ring suburbs. Let’s work on 46th, M’haha Creek, etc. before we jump all the way down to 66th. Focus on expanding, infilling, and tweaking the existing network before we start talking about adding stations that are 3-4 miles from the current practicable extent of the network.

    2. Adam FroehligAdam Froehlig

      Using DC as an example (where Capital Bikeshare has branched out into Alexandria, Arlington County, and parts of Montgomery County), there may be some near-suburban nodes with enough density to support NiceRide, even if the central city hasn’t been fully “decked out” yet. Nodes centered on 66th/Lyndale, 50th/France, downtown Robbinsdale, and downtown Hopkins are all possibilities here.

  5. Janne

    I’d be interested in hearing from Nice Ride: What are the minimum requirements you have that allow you to place a station?

    It is impossible to make viable recommendations without knowing a LITTLE more about what can and cannot be done.

  6. Casey

    I would like to see a better way to teach Nice Riders to learn traffic laws. I see many that do not seem to know what they are doing!

  7. Nick MagrinoNick Magrino

    One non-location related suggestion–maybe year round service in select locations? Chicago keeps theirs out year round, and it’s pretty cold and snowy there. I’m sure most spots outside the core wouldn’t work, but I’m sure myself and quite a few others would continue to use them on all but the coldest days.

    1. Nick

      I think I’ve seen this question asked in other places (Twitter? Nice Ride FAQ?) and the response I recall is that any winter program would need different stations and bikes because the service agreement for their current equipment would be voided by excessive exposure to road salt.

  8. Eric AnondsonEric Anondson

    Here is a New Tool and Approach idea:

    Offer protected bike storage (bike lockers, underground robotic system as seen in Japan?) at LRT or BRT stations that include a Nice Ride rental at the other end of the trip.

  9. Mary Mulherin

    I have just read the NiceRide 2015 report cover to cover online and have the following comments to make:

    As a recent NiceRide member and as a NiceRide volunteer for over 3 years I found the report went all the way to page 44 before VOLUNTEERS were mentioned. Staff are mentioned on page 40 as providing conversations at events, but volunteers are not mentioned here, although that is what volunteers do and do well.

    On p.27 “The greatest persisting challenge in the sponsorship program lies in balancing senior staff time needed to solicit new sponsors with time spent developing and improving Nice Ride’s outreach programming. Developing a scalable, sustainable sponsorship model for Nice Ride’s Neighborhood and Greater Minnesota initiatives present the largest challenges going forward.”

    If NiceRide had a better understanding of volunteers they would understand that volunteers are the CORE of well-run non-profits. Volunteers in the community could be effective in community engagement with possible NiceRide sponsors. Sponsors are eager to learn of the level of volunteerism in an organization and hearing from people who use NiceRide and learning how NiceRide has impacted their lives might well garner more sponsorships.

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