Rather than creating competition, Minnesota Nice Ride bicycle sharing program has helped some bike rental shops in Minneapolis.
As Nice Ride expands its program, bike rental shops are seeing the effects on their own businesses because of what owners see as an increased interest in biking overall.
“If anything, [Nice Ride] has actually increased our rentals,” said Tim Larson, store manager of Penn Cycle on Lake Street.
Larson said that when Penn Cycle staff heard about the Nice Ride program they supported the idea to promote non-motorized transit in the Twin Cities.
Expecting to lose business to the large bike share program, Penn Cycle found bike rentals increasing by 10 percent to 15 percent, Larson said.
Nice Ride has increased the bike shop’s rentals because the two have different business models. Larson said it is more beneficial to use a bike rental shop for an all-day rental, while using Nice Ride is better for short-term use.
Larson said he’s seen several people dropping off Nice Ride bikes at the station outside of Penn Cycle and coming into the shop for an all-day bike rental.
Other bike businesses have been similarly affected.
“Because it’s a different rental style, it hasn’t negatively impacted our business,” said Karl Stoerzinger, mechanic at Midtown Bike Center.
Stoerzinger said many people think that Nice Ride is hurting bike rental shops, but that’s not the case since the two types of rentals have different modes of sharing.
“It’s like a rental car compared to a taxi cab,” Stoerzinger said, explaining that rental shops provide better deals for longer use, while Nice Ride bikes are better for quick commutes.
“There has definitely been a noticeable impact [from Nice Ride],” said Cody Anderson, manager of Calhoun Rental bike shop, where rentals have not increased.
Although Calhoun Rental’s business has been “noticeably down” over the past year, Anderson said that Nice Ride is good for the community and bike awareness.
“It was a sunny Sunday [last year] and we only rented out eight bikes,” Anderson said. It was his first indication that Nice Ride could be taking business, he said.
Nice Ride has pushed Calhoun Rental to try to bring in more customers, Anderson said. The shop has started doing bike tours throughout the city to increase business.
City residents took more than 100,000 trips on Nice Ride bikes last year. On April 9, 2011, Nice Ride announced on its website that it would install eight more stations in north Minneapolis. Stations are also being added throughout the University of Minnesota campus at Elliot Hall, Akerman Hall and the McNamara Alumni Center.