Note: This post is part of the streets.mn/Nice Ride crowdsource conversation, a series of crowdsourced looks at how to expand or improve Nice Ride planning. Check out the rest here.
After reviewing questions and data from NiceRide MN I have the following observations to make as they relate to equity of station placement. When designing their system, NiceRide responded, like many non-profits do, to funders rather than to potential users of their system. But people need to be able to reach their home off the LRT, so bike stations at LRT stations need to go back into the neighborhoods where people live.
University Avenue and Libraries
Nice Ride stations on University Avenue are not utilized by bike riders if the bike riders can’t get to their homes with a nearby station dropoff for their bike. There are no stations north of University Ave except at Hamline University on Snelling Ave, Sherburne Ave (1 block north of the LRT station), and Como Park (2 locations).
I have gone to both Highland and Rondo St libraries by NiceRide, although Highland is perhaps more challenging now that the University of St Catherine no longer has a NiceRide station. I would suggest that NiceRide partner with the library system to let library patrons know that there is a NiceRide station close to this or that library. (with a map showing location)
Como Park is a “destination station” for most riders, I suspect. A station at Victoria and University is nice, but if it doesn’t reach north into Frogtown where people live, it is no better than the bus/LRT service dropping one at the stop/station there. One free idea: NiceRideMN planners might look at the West Minnehaha Shopping Mall or the new Frogtown Farms as a logical destination for people transferring from the LRT stop at Victoria and University.
There is a NiceRide station at Victoria and University, but where would people be riding from/to? If I live near the station at William Mitchell near Victoria and Summit I could ride north to the NiceRide station with my bike and dock it, but if I came from the north….well, there really is no place to come from unless I came from Como Park, which is not in a residential area, per se, although persons could ride from NiceRideMN station to it. If I lived in Wilder Square with its highrise, condo and townhouses at West Minnehaha/Lafond/Milton area…I could catch a NiceRide bike at a station in that location (also where there is a sizeable Somali Muslim mosque and the new Frogtown Farms park/farm) and ride to/from the Victoria/University NiceRide station. Dale and Minnehaha might also be a location and I’m sure there are many more.
Hamline and Fairview
There is a station near Target on Hamline Ave, but stations farther south do not exist except at Kowalkski’s on Grand Ave. A station at Montreal and Hamline would provide access to the Highland Park swimming pool, Highland Park picnic area and Circus Juventas, which are locations not covered by public transportation and thus access is denied those without their own automobiles.
And what about NiceRide stations in St Paul on designated bike boulevards? (See also: Nice Ride on Griggs Bike Boulevard.) I live at Jefferson and Lexington and the closest NiceRide station is at Kowalski’s on Grand Ave, a 20 minute walk and it feels like I’m going “backwards” if I want to ride south of my home or east of my home. There was a station at Grand/Lexington when I first had a NiceRide membership but that station “folded” and I was told it went to Como Park. I’ve rode NiceRide at Como, but usually have driven there because I don’t have a “direct” route.
In the same vein, one could extend NiceRideMN stations down Fairview to connect people to Highland Village, Highland branch library and the newer development which will occur with the Ford Plant revitalization.
Overall, lining up of bike stations on roads which do not have bus service might improve public transportation for residents of the city and also have less heavy impact on our roads. A win-win for all.
Maps and/or Commercials
Another thought is for NiceRide to have some maps of routes one might take to get to some locations, so as not to ride on busy streets, i.e. University Ave, Lexington, Cleveland, Hamline Ave…how can the biker circumvent the busy streets even though the NiceRide station is there? While you/I might know that Charles is a “bike boulevard” will the rider at University and Victoria know this…could there be signage…and directions from this station to other things in area…like north streets to connect to Lexington, so as not to ride on Lexington until one must…trails that are hidden but known to bicyclists…wow! what a concept! helping the casual rider so that the casual rider sees more possibilities and ease of riding a NiceRide bike for more of their daily activities.
What about an infomercial…youtube…whatever…where a bike rider in St Paul goes from where they live to free Zumba at Como Park at 7am with Jill from the St Paul Athletic Club (through St Paul Parks program “Fitness in the Park”), then they ride to visit their mother/cousin/friend docking their bike at Victoria and University, then ride to Dale and University and go to the Rondo Library, then walk across the street and shop at St Vincent de Paul (do this on a Wednesday when they who are 55+ get the senior discount at Salvation Army), then they get a bike again at Dale and University and continue down the Charles bike lane until they reach Rice Street and ride to NiceRide station by Capitol and go visit their State Senator or take part in a rally, then they ride downtown for lunch and could even take in a concert at the Landmark Center. They could either ride home or take the LRT back home or part of the way home. Whew!
What about city funds to promote neighborhoods, but NiceRideMN applies because they create these infomercials or whatever they’re called, “Rideos”…to not only show NiceRide to a wider audience but show off neighborhood businesses and neighborhoods…maybe business associations would be calling NiceRide to be “featured” on an upcoming “Rideo”.
OK, enough from me. Keep chewing on these ideas, and I’ll keep dreaming of a better bike system.