Nice Ride’s 3-Month Update is Awesome

Nice Ride crushed it with their 3-month update blog post. They broke down how things are working at levels well beyond what I’m used to seeing from non-profits. This level of transparency should be applauded.

For example, here’s a map they published showing the usage rates of the active 65 kiosks in the network:

Nice Ride Kiosk Use

I love this kind of data. Here are a few takes on what I see, based on being a Nice Ride subscriber, someone who’s been to all 65 kiosks, and a bit of an analytical geek.

1. The U of MN’s numbers seem low, but the timeframe is before school started. A college student who has to cross between the East and West Banks should be able to justify an annual subscription just for the time savings crossing the Mississippi river.

2. Kiosk density seems to help. Kiosks at the outer edges of the current network – especially in North, where the density is lacking currently – are the ones with the lowest usage. If you can go N-S-E-W from a kiosk, it’s going to do better. I mentioned this in the comments of a post on Johnny Northside where they were discussing locations for the 5 new kiosks that are planned for North. While it would be cool to expand the geography well beyond what Nice Ride covers today, I think the system will have the most chance of success if it grows in, say, 6 city block increments in any direction it chooses to expand in. Beyond that, it loses out on the power of the network.

3. Population density is another key to success. Just like transit, having enough people within walking distance of a stop is key to making the numbers work. Uptown, downtown and the U of MN have that going for them. As things expand beyond core high density neighborhoods, use will likely be lower because less people live within walking distance of kiosks. This may be an issue for the new stations being added in North Minneapoils since there are so many foreclosures up there, the density of population may not be all that high.

4. One thing that may improve the maps at the kiosks is to help people understand where they could realistically get to within 30 minutes via the Nice Ride bikes. The range is larger than most people probably realize. For example, I’ve picked up bikes at my closest kiosk, Birchwood Cafe, and cruised to downtown, Dinkytown, and St. Anthony Main with no additional trip charges.

5. Ladies, step it up. Only 38% of the trips have been done by women? You can do better.

6. The system is far from profitable at this point. For example, a grant from the city is helping expand the network into North Minneapolis by 5 kiosks for $228,500. That figure closely mirrors ($244,247) what the organization has earned in user fees to date. They have grants, sponsorships, and advertising that help bridge the gap.

That’s what comes to mind. Check out the reports. They have a ton of excellent information that helps explain how things are going.

6 thoughts on “Nice Ride’s 3-Month Update is Awesome”

  1. A couple of thoughts – Though I agree with you that women ought to take advantage of the system more often, I’m wondering if usage of women is lower due to their disproportionate responsibility for the care and transport of children, which requires a vehicle. Also, whether the fact that women are discouraged from being alone in public at night or early in the morning, even if cycling, for fear of attack, would have something to do with it. Some parts of the bicycle paths can be lonely.

    I really wish they would have had this service when I lived in the Cities with no car or bicycle for years – I would definitely have used it all the time!

  2. Pingback: Nice Ride Bike-Sharing is Performing Quite Nicely — Secrets of the City — Minneapolis + St. Paul
  3. Ed – the most useful part of this data set is that it allows us to compare stations with each other – and subscription offers with each other. Without some sort of benchmark, this data doesn’t allow us to evaluate the overall success of the program, does it? I’m curious to know how these measurements compare to Nice Ride’s projections and estimates for their first 3 months.

  4. One more thought – I like your idea about kiosk density, bit it also appears that there are quite a few outliers, doesn’t it? A number of stations on the functional edge of Nice Ride’s service area in Uptown, Midtown Exchange, Dinkytown, Northeast, and North Loop are getting a lot of use. These areas all seem to correlate pretty well with your idea #3 about population density. I wonder if the trend we’re seeing in the downtown area with a core of well-used stations isn’t due to population density (or land use intensity) rather than kiosk density.

  5. Regarding kiosk density, while I understand there’s a station map at every kiosk and riders ought to be using it, I think knowing there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to be able to SEE a kiosk to leave the bike at as I ride to my next destination would be nice, especially if I’m combining this with another mode of transit.

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