Nice Ride to deploy e-bikes in spring

Nice Ride Minnesota will soon include a fleet of electric bikes, in addition to its traditional pedal bikes. Photo courtesy Nice Ride Minnesota

Nice Ride Minnesota users will be able to rent electric bikes starting this spring, the company running the system announced Feb. 7.

The ride-sharing company Lyft said it planned to roll out 500 e-bikes when it deploys the Nice Ride fleet in April, plus an additional 1,300 e-bikes by mid-season. The 1,800 e-bikes will complement the new “dockless” blue bikes unveiled this past fall. Unlike the familiar green Nice Ride bicycles, the blue bikes don’t have to start and end every ride at a docking station.

The e-bike motors will have a top speed of around 15–18 miles per hour, according to Bill Dossett, executive director of the nonprofit Nice Ride Minnesota, which ran the namesake system through last summer. Users will check them out from and return them to docking stations located around Minneapolis.

“People who are already using the system may like this even better,” Dossett said. “We believe there will be more people who haven’t been using bikeshare who may want to when they can get where they’re going without showing up sweaty.”

Lyft has introduced e-bikes in three U.S. cities, and the company says it has received positive responses. It said in a presentation in February that e-bikes get roughly twice as much usage as pedal bikes and up to 15 trips per day in certain markets.

The new e-bikes will be black, setting them apart Nice Ride’s original green bikes and the blue dockless bikes. Dossett said Lyft would track how much Nice Ride patrons are using the e-bikes and swap out their batteries accordingly.

Lyft will also be adding 47 physical docking stations to Minneapolis, including 20 in Phillips, Cedar-Riverside and North Minneapolis. It plans on ensuring there are at least two stations in each of the 11 Minneapolis communities.

The company will also be launching a new reduced-fare membership program with online sign-up and verification through assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

An annual Nice Ride membership will remain at $75 for 2019, and a monthly membership will remain at $18. Those memberships allow for unlimited 60-minute rides for their respective time period.

A Nice Ride day pass, which allows for unlimited 30-minute rides, will remain at $6 for 2019. Single rides will be $2 per half-hour. All rides cost an additional $2 per half-hour beyond their respective time periods.

Lyft will also charge a $1 fee to unlock the e-bikes, though it will waive that fee for reduced-fare members.