Dispatch from Car-Free MSP Day

Andrea Carver, of Becker, started her car-free journey at 4:46 a.m. when she took the Northstar Commuter Rail to Minneapolis. At 6:10 a.m., she took the Blue Line light-rail train from Target Field Station to Nicollet, then walked on Nicollet to her destination.

At 6:11 a.m., Jonathan Weinhagen, Minneapolis Regional Chamber president and CEO, caught the Route 261 express bus from Shoreview to downtown Minneapolis.

At 10:09 a.m., Weinhagen was taking the Green Line light rail east to St. Paul to meet with a team from Comcast. Presumably, the topic of regional public transit was discussed.

Car free day cookies

✨🍪🍪🍪🍪✨ Photo: Author

Around 11 a.m., I scooted down to Peavey Plaza for the #CarFreeMSP party. There was Move Minneapolis, Nice Ride and Lyft, Lime, HourCar, Enterprise, and transit operators Metro Transit and SouthWest Transit.

A salted caramel cookie bought and paid for my attention, and I learned some interesting tidbits about our local micro-mobility scene.

NiceRide Gen 1 electric bike.

Nice Ride Gen 1 electric bike with swappable battery. Photo: Author

Nice Ride

Nice Ride has about 50 of its “Gen 1” electric bikes deployed. These were shipped in from San José, California, and feature a swappable battery (the brick that says “genze”), something that no other rental electric scooters in the Twin Cities currently have.

The electric bikes are used about six times per day, three to four times the rate of the classic green bikes, according to a Nice Ride staffer.

Lyft and Motivate, the operator of Nice Ride, are working on a solar-powered charging dock station for electric bikes.

Given the brake issues with the “Gen 2” model of electric bike in San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C., Nice Ride failed to meet its goal of 500 deployed this summer. Next year, the company hopes to meet that target with a new generation of bikes.

Lyft Scooter Segway Ninebot Max

Lyft is partnering with Segway-Ninebot to introduce the Shared Scooter Model Max. Photo: Lyft

Lyft

Lyft has about 500 scooters deployed and is exclusively partnering with Segway-Ninebot now, after Xiaomi sent a cease-and-desist in October 2018. Once Lyft ships in new Segway-Ninebot Max scooters, they will increase the deployment to the max of about 660 per day.

A Lyft staffer said that its scooters are used about three times per day. Using swappable batteries may be in the future. Skip, which operates only in Austin, Texas, San Diego, San Francisco and D.C., introduced its model “S3” scooter that features swappable batteries in August 2019.

Lime Gen 3 Screen With Phone App

Lime Gen 3 screen with phone app. Photo: Lime

Lime

Lime recently rolled out the “Gen 3” scooter in Minneapolis, and Lime had two on display at its booth. Lime tries to meet the cap every day and have a pool of about 1,000 scooters for Minneapolis and 700 for St. Paul, the staffer said.

The challenge is maintenance. The most common fixes at the Lime regional service center are replacing screens that are damaged and fixing brake lines that are damaged or cut.

How did you get around last Thursday, on Car-Free MSP Day? What is your favorite car-free trip? Share your stories and your dreams in the comments.

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3 Responses to Dispatch from Car-Free MSP Day

  1. John Abraham
    John Abraham September 27, 2019 at 10:18 am #

    Hey – great informative article. I’ll leave my two cents since apparently no one else did. While approaching 40 has made me terrified of a lot of new and different things (i.e. almost everything you wrote about here) I cannot argue with people using these devices instead of fossil-fuel powered vehicles to get around, which is the ultimate goal. And while I detest having to maneuver around these scooters every day it is again (I hope) furthering the goal of a carbon-zero lifestyle for our city. There are still obviously a lot of car drivers out there and this is going to take a sea change in the way people view transit, but thank you for covering this event that I had no idea even took place, and what was presented. Very informative, and sorry nobody else deigned to leave a comment. Hopefully people read it at least! jA

  2. John Barobs October 1, 2019 at 10:26 am #

    Thank you for the write up about Car-Free MSP. The purpose of the event is to build awareness of the multi-modal options that Minneapolis has to offer. While boomers (like me) are not going to be abandoning their SUV’s in droves, Car-Free MSP, and the 30+ employers that enrolled in the campaign, encouraged drive-alone commuters to try transit, carpooling, biking or telecommuting on 9/19. Perhaps some tried the bus or LRT for the 1st time. This is a gentle nudge in the sustainable direction…along some fun too! I enjoyed watching two middle-aged women trying out scooters and e-bikes for the first time on a test course that was set up on Nicollet Mall. They squealed in delight after daring each-other to give it a try. They might not become daily scooter converts, but you can bet that they went back to the office laughing about their daring adventure on two wheels. They probably have a more positive viewpoint on scooters after trying them out. For people under 40, multi-modal commuting options are an expectation in an urban area of our size. They get it.

  3. Ian R Buck October 6, 2019 at 8:08 am #

    I can’t believe that Xiaomi’s case against Lyft would hold up in court; Lyft bought those scooters, they can do what they want with them, no matter what Xiaomi says. Otherwise, the concept of ownership is meaningless.

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