On Wednesday, Nice Ride and operator Lyft announced changes for the 2020 season. There are new developements for electric bikes, dockless, the end of the season, and Nice Ride for All.
Electric Bikes and the Future of Dockless
Nice Ride plans to expand the electric bike fleet to 2,000 starting in April 2020, with different pricing than the classic green bikes. In 2019, both options were priced on the same schedule. The black electric bikes will replace the space the blue dockless bikes filled, both figuratively and literally. The new black electric bikes include the ability to be locked at a public, third-party bike rack with the bike-attached cable lock or at a Nice Ride dock station alongside the classic green bikes. Nice Ride plans to use “price incentives” to ensure that these bikes are locked properly. These plans for locking at public bike racks have not been approved by the City of Minneapolis nor are part of the City’s contract with Nice Ride right now.
Pricing for the new electric bike program is 10 cents per minute, plus a one dollar fee if the bike is parked at a public bike rack instead of a Nice Ride station. The pricing drops to 5 cents per minute plus the potential parking fee for Nice Ride for All members, a membership option available to SNAP and TAP program participants.
Nice Ride is exploring deploying 200 “lightweight” bike share stations for just electric bikes (no classic green bikes), potentially at many of the same locations at current “hubs” for blue dockless bikes.
End of 2019 Season is November
The green classic bike system at stations will be disabled at the end of the day on Sunday, November 17 and the blue dockless system will be disabled at the end of the day on Saturday, November 30. That Saturday will be the last day ever for blue dockless bikes, so be sure to share your last ride with Streets on social media!
FYI! We want you to keep on pedaling so we’re keeping our system open a little longer this year. (Weather permitting, of course):
Classic System Close
(green bikes & black ebikes)
Sunday, November 17th (11:59 pm)
Dockless Close (blue bikes)
Saturday, November 30th (11:59 pm) pic.twitter.com/tfupwtRiE8
— Nice Ride MN (@NiceRideMN) November 4, 2019
Nice Ride for All Reaches 1,000 Members
Nice Ride announced that at the end of the 2019 season, its equity program, Nice Ride for All, reached 1,000 members. Membership is available to SNAP and TAP program participants and offers Nice Ride membership for five dollars a month during periods of activity. According to Nice Ride, the monthly fee is charged based on rental activity, so members are not charged during the off season. For 2020, program members will have the same free rides on classic green bikes and reduced pricing on black electric bikes.
Nice Ride media release:
Nice Ride Proposes Master Plan Amendment for 2020 Riding Season
Nice Ride proposes adding 2,000 pedal-assist electric bikes to fleet beginning in April 2020
New ebikes feature hybrid locking technology that allows parking at a station or at public bike racks
Nice Ride system to close for the 2019 season in late November
MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 6, 2019) – Nice Ride Minnesota put forward an outline of its proposed amendment to the 2020 plan for the bike share system at a public forum yesterday. Over the last year, in addition to its classic green docked bikes, Nice Ride operated a fleet of blue “dockless” bikes parked in a system of virtual hubs. The proposed 2020 plan would remove the dockless bikes from the fleet and introduce 2,000 pedal-assist electric bikes (ebikes) which feature a hybrid locking mechanism.
“In micromobility, change is the norm. Technology, customer expectations, and right-of-way usage are evolving continuously. The Nice Ride transition plan embraced change by encouraging collaboration between our right-of-way owners and our operating partner, Lyft, and creating a flexible process to amend and improve our Master Plan. We are thrilled to see that collaboration and flexibility working,” said Bill Dossett, Nice Ride Minnesota executive director.
“Nice Ride has been a pioneering bike share network in America, and we’re looking forward to elevating it even further come 2020,” said Caroline Samponaro, head of micromobility policy at Lyft. “Lyft can’t wait to bring a large fleet of our brand-new pedal-assist ebikes to Minneapolis next year — making it the nicest riding season yet.”
“We are excited to see innovations continue at Nice Ride,” said Janelle Waldock, vice president of community health and health equity at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, title sponsor of Nice Ride. “We’re looking forward to more ebikes coming to the network in 2020, making healthy transportation more accessible and encouraging people who may not have tried it before.”
Pedal-assist ebikes give riders a motorized boost as they pedal, make riding easier and more fun and open new possibilities for longer trips. Pending approval from the City of Minneapolis, these new ebikes could be docked at a Nice Ride station side-by-side with the classic green Nice Ride bikes or locked to any public bike rack using an attached cable lock.
Pending results of a parking assessment by Alta Planning, Lyft proposes investing in more than 200 “lightweight” bike share stations to provide more physical parking options for the new ebike fleet, without the extensive kiosk infrastructure found at traditional Nice Ride stations. These new lightweight stations would utilize many of the dockless hub sites that were installed in 2019.
Using price incentives, Nice Ride plans to encourage riders to return ebikes to existing classic stations and lightweight stations. Ebikes would also be able to be locked to any legal Minneapolis public bike rack for a small convenience fee of $1 to offset operational costs. The enhanced technology of the new fleet would enable better enforcement to assure that all bikes are securely locked and out of the right-of-way. The full 2020 bike fleet would be accessible to riders via the Nice Ride App or using a member key fob.
Under the new proposal pricing for Nice Ride’s traditional pedal bike service would remain unchanged for both members and casual riders in 2020. If riders choose an ebike, a per-minute usage fee of $.10/min would be applied from the start of the rental period. This fee would be reduced to $.05/min for members of Nice Ride’s successful reduced-fare program Nice Ride for All, available to SNAP and TAP program participants. Launched in May 2019, Nice Ride for All is ending the 2019 riding season with almost 1,000 program members, more than four times the size of any prior Nice Ride equity program. Lyft will prioritize continued growth of the Nice Ride for All program in 2020.
Nice Ride’s bike share service is set to officially close for the season in late November with the classic system disabled at the end of the day on Sunday, November 17 and the dockless system disabled at the end of the day on Saturday, November 30.
Recycling my comments, but ebikes are more important than dockless. Docks provide a level of certainty and reliability, while moving bikes out of the sidewalk, reducing wear and tear, and hopefully eventually providing charging. But ebikes provide a truly different product, and totally new value for users who might already own regular bicycles at home, but aren’t willing to shell out thousands of dollars for electric.
I like most of Nice Ride’s changes, although I think their pricing scheme and their “lightweight dock” parking policies should be revised a bit.
To update the story a bit: I confirmed that pricing for electric for Nice Ride members (including Nice Ride for All) is $0 to start, then the 10 cents per minute and parking fee.
For non-members, they can buy the $2 ride pass or $6 all-day pass, then incur the same 10 cents per minute and parking fee.
Will be interested to see how this goes. 10 cents a minute ($6 per hour) can add up pretty quick. However, it really depends how people will use them.
I would think eBikes would be most popular for car replacement trips like local shopping, which would probably be under 5 miles. 5 miles @ ~18MPH is roughly 16 minutes, add 4 minutes for stop lights, etc = $2.00 pass + $2.00 time. Lock the bike at the store = $1.00 and return trip $2.00. So $7.00 for non-member round trip.
That’s 214 5-mi. trips compared to a $1500 online ebike (@1,070 miles of wear) or 357 5-mi. trips compared to my min rec. $2500 local ebike (@1,785 miles of wear). Nice thing is, with bike share you don’t have to pay for maintenance, insurance (really only used by premium $3k+ eBike owners), or replacement batteries (est. 5,000 miles @ $500-$1000).
If most of your trips start from home, owning is probably the smarter route for convenience. But multi-modal types would probably find bike share model more convenient given you can leave the bike almost anywhere. Nice for days when weather is nice riding one direction and less so later in the day, in the other. I own two eBikes, but still use NiceRide for multimodal/last mile.
I think the biggest potential issue is the logistics of replacing batteries. Ideally the app would show an estimated range instead of just a battery %. One of the big problem with scooters is seeing a lot of scooters close by, but the one with sufficient battery range for your trip is far away. This is much worse later in the day, which makes electric scooter share for evening events a big pain.
As Minneapolis and Nice Ride continues to enhance and improve their system, has there been any public update on whether our Capitol city of Saint Paul will even HAVE a bike share system again? #sadsaintpaulite
Thanks for the update! This news is huge! Sorry Eric (an ex-st. Paulite here….)
I think the NiceRide team put a lot of thought into their plans and pricing. It’d be nice if they had an option to put a hold on a bike for up to 60 minutes to address ‘return trip anxiety’. Maybe charge the user $.03/minute for the privilege of holding their rental while they are in buying groceries or meeting for a meal. Particularly in the less traveled areas of the city. Once there are enough bikes maybe this issue becomes moot. $1 to park anywhere seems a little cheap based on the downstream hassles it may cause. There ought to be more of an incentive to park at a dock (where it can be charged and consistently accessed).
Unlike the bird scooters, these will prove to serve a legitimate transportation function.
I expect the scooters to go the way of dodo birds as they are forced to charge their actual operational costs and people wise up to the external costs they pay the ER and Orthopedics after they inevitably crash.