Dan Breva lights up when he discusses his work with Nice Ride Minnesota. As a 40-year veteran of the outdoor-recreation work environment and nearly a decade of part-time bicycle maintenance under his belt, Breva has built a life devoted to public service and all things bicycle-related. Breva’s hands, shaped by years of experience, suite him perfectly for his work as the Operations Manager for this subscriber-based public bike share system set to kick off this June.
Nice Ride Minnesota recently joined the Seward Civic and Commerce Association and the non-profit’s work toward the creation of a more sustainable urban environment runs parallel to the environment-centered efforts of the Seward neighborhood.
The Minneapolis-based bike share program was initiated by Mayor R.T. Rybak about two years ago as a way to introduce non-motorized transportation to the city. Because Minneapolis’ transit system is regionally-based, Breva explained that the non-profit was established to ease the potential difficulties when attempting to work with a non-city-based transpiration system.
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After developing a strategy with Alta Planning + Design, receiving $3 million in federal funding, and gaining sponsorships from various organizations, Nice Ride’s efforts will come to a head this summer for their introduction of 65 kiosks and 700 publicly-accessible bicycles in the Minneapolis area.
Starting at 11:00am on June 10, participants in the kick-off will meet in Downtown near the Minneapolis Public Library. Then, riders will make their way down Nicollet Mall to Peavey Plaza in order to hear a brief presentation. At the reception, participants will have a chance to hear from the program’s founding sponsors as well as representatives from the city about how the bike share system developed. The event is sponsored, in part, by the Birchwood Café and Seward Co-op Grocery and Deli.
The initial inspiration for Nice Ride Minnesota came from successful models of public bicycle systems across Europe. Nice Ride Minnesota adopted a bike-share system developed in Montreal, which is currently in its second summer with over 30,000 subscribing members and over a million uses.
Breva had the opportunity to witness the deployment of the system this spring. He explained, “As soon as people saw the stuff back out on the street, they were ready to ride within 36 to 48 hours.”
According to Breva, Nice Ride’s bikes have been designed to accommodate for relatively short trips. And due to the unique design of the bikes, professionals in the city will not have to worry about wearing special equipment in order to ride. “They’re a step-through frame; so they’re easy on, easy off,” Breva added. “The only real adjustment people will have to make is saddle height. And once you know your preferred saddle height, you can just key the bike out and go.”
In addition to the easily-accessible kiosks, users of the system will be treated to Minneapolis’ developing, bike-friendly road system. As Breva explained, “Minneapolis is a surprisingly safe city to ride bike in. There are a lot of marked bike lanes and there will be more put in this summer. There’s also quite a network of off-road bike trails so that even if people do not want to ride on the street, they can get to a lot of places by using the off-road trails.”
People interested in participating in the bike-share system can sign up for a subscription online or pay for a bike directly at a Nice Ride kiosk. Bicycle trips range in price according to the length of time the bike is out its kiosk. A one-day subscription will cost only $5 and longer subscriptions (30 days for $30 and 1 year for $60) will include an encrypted key-card that bikers can use at any point in their subscriptions.
Behind the logistics of the system are Nice Ride’s unifying principles of creating a more sustainable urban environment. According to Breva, Nice Ride is primarily designed to get people “actively using active transport.” Due to the influx of bikers across the city, residents and pedestrians may find Minneapolis a more welcoming and personal city.
Also, bike-sharers may find themselves healthier due increased exercise and the reduced amount of motor vehicle-created air pollution in the area. “It’s really an alternative to getting in your car and driving that half mile,” Breva said.
In the Seward neighborhood, Nice Ride has requested permission from the city for kiosks to be placed near Franklin Avenue’s Light Rail Station. Nice Ride’s initial deployment for Seward includes several stations along Franklin, and in the Cedar Riverside area. Kiosks will also be placed on the campuses of Augsburg College and the University or Minnesota, as well as popular destinations like the Birchwood Cafe.
For Breva, his work with Nice Ride is integral to his understanding of how non-profits can initiate and affect policies on institutionalized systems of commuting. Breva also said that he is beginning to see Minneapolis as a city “where all forms of transportation are considered in street design, rather than just motor vehicles. People who use public transit, bicyclists, and pedestrians are all part of transportation.”