‘The city will have bikes’: Minneapolis explores other options after Lyft suspends Nice Ride
The City of Minneapolis says there will be a bike-sharing service this upcoming season despite news this week that the Nice Ride program is suspended.
Lyft confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Wednesday that its Nice Ride program has been suspended.
“I’m so disappointed,” said Karen Kraemer, who lives in Minneapolis. “We use Nice Ride all the time. I use it almost every day, every other day when the bikes are up and running.”
Nice Ride arrived in Minneapolis in 2010 and was the first bike share in the country at the time. Riders like Kraemer were shocked to hear the service was suspended.
“There’s so many elements to it that make it a really important service and activity and a part of being downtown,” Kraemer said.
This decision comes after the program’s presenting sponsor, Blue Cross Blue Shield, opted not to continue sponsoring Nice Ride.
“We have made the tough decision to suspend our operations of the Nice Ride system at the completion of our one-year license after losing the system’s presenting sponsor,” a Lyft spokesperson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in a statement. “Since losing the presenting sponsor, we have worked tirelessly to find a new sponsor but have not been successful. We will continue to work with our local partners to look for opportunities to provide service again in the future.”
“Initial sadness, it’s meant so much to the community,” said Tiffany Orth, executive director of Move Minneapolis.
Both riders and transportation advocacy groups aren’t thrilled with the move, but a city spokesperson said there will be a bike share in some form this spring.
“The City is disappointed that Lyft could not find a new private sponsor to support their operation of the Nice Ride system,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Regardless of the outcome, the City has other licensees in the Shared Bike and Scooter Program interested in providing shared bikes, ensuring that the city will have bikes in the program this upcoming season.”
“There’s been a great model for this now and so it’s not going to go away. It’s just going to look different,” Orth said.
Orth’s job with Move Minneapolis is to create sustainable transportation. She knows bike shares are crucial to the city.
“Public bike share really provides a critical link for many underserved communities,” Orth said.
Orth believes this can be a fresh start.
“It’s actually exciting. It’s an opportunity within all of this to sort of reimagine, refresh what public bike share can look like in the Twin Cities,” Orth said.
Karen Kraemer even sent a letter to her City Council member because she couldn’t believe the news that Nice Ride was suspended.
The city didn’t confirm who might step in to fill the void, but Kraemer is optimistic.
“I really hope that happens so we don’t have a break in the service,” Kraemer said. “I’m literally counting on when they start putting the bikes out and we can get back on the bike and moving around.”
Once the weather allows for it, Lyft says they will go ahead and remove the Nice Ride stations.