You may know that Nice Ride Minnesota provides bike transportation to thousands of people in the Twin Cities area each year through its ride-sharing program. However, through the innovative and collaborative way in which they provide those services, Nice Ride helps to create more than just some nice rides. They help to build community and a common good by connecting individuals, businesses, government, and nonprofits that help to bring about several benefits that contribute to a better quality of life in the area.
Nice Ride Minnesota is a non-profit organization that provides public bike sharing and other bike programs to Minneapolis, St. Paul, and greater Minnesota. It was established in 2008 and has grown in geographic service area, number of bikes, and rides provided. In 2015, there were 190 bike stations with 1,700 bikes providing 1.75 million rides annually. More about.
Nice Ride grew out of a true collaboration between individuals, local businesses, government, and organizations to provide a service that would improve the quality of life in the Twin Cities. Businesses and organizations were not only instrumental in getting the nonprofit off the ground but continue to provide services and financial support for the program. Some of the current organizations are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Center for Prevention (major sponsor), Dorsey & Whitney (legal), Duffy & Partners (design), Mono (marketing), Grant Thornton (accounting), Roepke (P.R.), and Clockwork (web development).
Nice Ride is a cool bike sharing program. However, its success is largely due to the community that has been built around the organization from the beginning. People feel an ownership because it is a common good. Many people take responsibility for some aspect of the organization. This helps to strengthen it, and many people want to take care of it and ensure it thrives.
There are several reasons why the support web sees the benefit of Nice Ride and thus wants to ensure its growth and success. We know that the nonprofit provides bike sharing services through a transmaterialization model. Which is awesome. The benefits, as outlined on the Nice Ride website, go much deeper. They include:
- Avoiding vehicular congestion
- Reducing our carbon footprint
- Less dependence on fossil fuels
- More efficient movement from place to place
- More opportunities for healthy physical activity
- More interesting personal experiences interacting with our cities
- A growing affinity to make other changes in all modes of transportation
- A sense of civic pride
Some of the more interesting benefits, such as “interesting personal experiences” aren’t just left up to chance either. Nice Ride actively works to design the bike experience as a way to access and learn about the community. For example, Nice Ride has several routes (availble on their website and phone app) that are designed to educate and connect riders to gems in the community. They include:
- Graffiti tour
- Holy-Rollers tour
- Mmmmm, Beer tour
- Famous Architecture tour
- Bike Bridges tour
- Art Al Fresco tour
- Urban Wildlife tour
- 'The New You' tour
- 'Prince for a Day' tour
- Original Garage Band tour
- 'I See Dead People' tour
Being a fob carrying member, I’m a little bias. I was at the 2010 inaugural ride down Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. If you want to see me in an eagle costume giving high-fives to bike participants of the inaugural Nice Ride in Minneapolis, click the article here. Augsburg College, my employer, is a sponsor and hosts a Nice Ride kiosk on campus. Augsburg also subsidizes Nice Ride annual subscriptions for employees as a health and wellness initiative. I’ve also art directed a marketing photo shoot with Augsburg students on Nice Ride bikes as a way to show prospective students the range of transportation options available.
Nice Ride is a great example of how a social organization can help meet many needs in a community (understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity, and freedom). They obviously help meet a transportation need. However, Nice Ride does much more for the community and environment because the service is well-designed and maintained by its web of supporting individuals, organizations, and businesses.