In my last post, A Lake Minnetonka Nice Ride Idea, I mashed-up a couple of maps that showed it would be plausible (if not necessarily practical) that a small number of new Nice Ride stations be located in a “destination outside the “dense grid zone” in the western suburbs of Minnetonka and Wayzata. In this post, I’ll try to expand that idea in a way that also attempts to answer one of this Project’s Seven Questions, specifically – what new tools and approaches should Nice Ride explore to make it easy for more people in Minnesota to choose active transportation?
At this time, Nice Ride generates operating revenue through station sponsorship, annual memberships and through “walk-up” rentals. Are there new tools and approaches Nice Ride could use to add sources of revenue to that stream while making it easier for more people to engage in active transportation?
For stations located in neighborhoods with strong identities and competitive streaks (and that also have rival neighborhoods), one idea would be to set up weekly or monthly competitions between the neighborhoods to earn more points than their rivals. Sponsoring communities would pay to participate and then enlist residents (or even ringers!) to earn points by taking the most rides, or by docking a bike in a competing communities’ station.
Then, add more communities (or high schools, workplaces, etc) to the contest, factor in more points for distance between stations docked, or any of a number of other point-generation (or point-canceling) methods, and the community with the most points at the end of the contest period gains prestige and bragging rights (and increasingly healthy citizens).
Nice Ride has already held special events, such as trying to set records for the most rides in a given day (#NicestDayEver) or docking at all 170 stations in a day. They also have pre-imagined day rides like the Mmm, Beer tour. Mash-up a special event with the beer tour – imagine dedicated (and sponsored, of course!) teams from Summit, Indeed, Harriet, and Steel Toe each trying to out-do each other and set a record by riding their festively (and strategically – see Enhanced Advertising below) decorated bikes more than the other teams! Or if restaurants like Birchwood, Famous Dave’s, and Sawatdee did the same? Especially if combined with something like Nice Ride Rewards so participants (and any walk-ups) could gain exclusive reduced prices at participating vendors?
Minnesota certainly has its share of companies that share the vision of getting more people to use active transportation; why not allow them to show it through new (or enhanced) sponsorship opportunities? Similar to what LRT trains, Metro Transit buses, or even taxis do, add small but visible placards or “skins” on the bikes for a set period of time (week, month, season). The front rack seems to have plenty of space for this – maybe a LifeTime Fitness sign, or a local bike shop sign? The nicely rectangular downtube could support an eye-catching skin somewhat akin to #GnarlyRide, perhaps identifying the bike as a #SurlyRide. The seat could easily support a discreet hanging placard, perhaps something along the lines of “Follow me to the Wedge Co-op.”
Or, in a weird kind of “meta-mash-up” of this post and the last, sponsored teams from Minnetonka, Wayzata, Excelsior, and Navarre could compete in a giant “Dia de Los Velos” event around the Lake Minnetonka loop and strive to get more of their bikes docked in competing stations while preventing competing teams from returning the favor. Participants would gain valuable coupons from fun local places (restaurants, breweries, bakeries, etc) for spending time engaged in active transportation. Sponsors would have their logos splashed on the bikes for all to see and to show their commitment to the local community as well as to active transportation. Fun local destinations would have a surge of visitors (there to watch the event) as well as a surge of participants. Oh, the possibilities!!!
As I mentioned in my previous post, it seems like the smart people at Nice Ride must have already had thoughts along these lines, but maybe they haven’t. I hope this post mixes things up a bit, and helps bring even better ideas forth!