May 28, 2015
By Nice Ride Minnesota
In 2014, Nice Ride Minnesota launched a pilot called the Nice Ride Neighborhood Program to change perceptions and encourage cycling in the neighborhoods of Frogtown, the East Side of Saint Paul and North Minneapolis, all of which had lower ridership with Nice Ride’s traditional bike-sharing program. By partnering with local organizations in these neighborhoods, Nice Ride began offering 145 program participants a four-month all-inclusive cycling experience, which included lending bikes to each participant. Along the Green Line, Model Cities and St. Paul Public Housing were pivotal in helping us to identify program participants in Frogtown.
The Nice Ride Neighborhood Program began with an orientation where we convened participants who were excited about trying something new and making a change to lead a more active lifestyle. There, participants learned about the program, bikes, and basic safety tips and took a short, fun ride before heading home with their bikes.
After the orientation, Neighborhood Program participants attended a series of six community events. In Frogtown, we scheduled our events alongside larger gatherings like Rondo Days, Fit 4 Fun, and local farmers markets. We worked with the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota, St. Paul Women on Bikes, and Cycles for Change to create events that brought riders together for food, fun, and a family-paced ride, providing an opportunity to share stories and connect with an even larger community of Neighborhood Program participants.
One participant said, “I never would have bought a bicycle without participating in this program. This program opened my eyes to another way of taking care of my basic need and then also taking care of the need to keep my body in better condition.”
As a result of the Neighborhood Program, participants changed their perceptions and individual behavior regarding bicycling as a means of transportation. The vast majority of participants increased their comfort level with bicycling, reported an increase in positive opinions about bicycling and bicyclers, and reported that they used their orange bike for transportation.
As the 2015 season begins, Nice Ride is increasing its investment in the Neighborhood Program by adding 120 bikes to the existing program. At this time, we are recruiting program participants through our agency partners. Along the green line, our partners include: Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, Hmong American Partnership, Model Cities, St. Paul Public Housing, and Vietnamese Social Services. Several new classes of Nice Ride Neighborhood participants will take to the roads with bright orange Nice Ride bikes, build community, and promote a strong, active living culture.
The Neighborhood Program is made possible through funding from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.