As the number of Nice Ride bike-sharing stations in the Twin Cities has grown, so has the economic activity in the areas surrounding them, according to findings from a recent study by the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Nice Ride Minnesota is a bike-sharing program offering short-term bike rental and subscription service options that cater to a range of users. Bikes are available at 146 stations, 24 hours a day, throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Since a Nice Ride station selectively increases accessibility around it, researcher Jessica Schoner explained, “Our theory was that people are going to take additional trips to that destination or they’re going to switch destinations and go to [one] near a Nice Ride station, because they can bike there conveniently…and then they’re going to spend money near these stations.”
To measure economic activity, the researchers examined the stations and surrounding land use, business owner perceptions of bicyclists and Nice Riders, and subscriber self-reported spending patterns.
The types of business with favorable opinions of Nice Ride were much more likely to be food-related. Fittingly, preliminary results from the team’s survey of Nice Ride subscribers show their top destinations were sit-down restaurants, coffee shops, bars or nightclubs, and grocery stores.
The researchers also found that Nice Ride users spent, on average, an extra $1.29 per week on new trips because of Nice Ride. Projecting that out for the overall survey sample amounted to more than $900 per week in new economic activity, or about $29,000 over the Nice Ride season (April through November), Schoner said. And extrapolating that for the entire population of Twin Cities Nice Ride subscribers would generate an additional $150,000 over the season.
The findings, Schoner concluded, could potentially drive the way bike-share agencies structure their sponsorship and business partnerships. “They’ll have tangible numbers to go to businesses and say ‘This is what having a station near you does’ and maybe [it will] change their ideas about trading a parking space for a station.”
In addition to Schoner, the research team included Greg Lindsey, Andrew Harrison, and Xize Wang of the Humphrey School. Assistance and funding for the study were provided by Nice Ride, Transit for Livable Communities, Bike Walk Twin Cities, and Bikes Belong.