A Disappointing Nice Ride Experience

Nice Ride Midtown
Nice Ride Midtown

In my last post, I mentioned that I was able to spend a rainy Saturday hanging out in North MPLS.  Since it was raining at 8:00 AM when I had to show up in the morning, I had decided not to ride my bike.  So Mel dropped me off.  I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to get home at the end of the day since Mel had other plans.

By about 3:00 when we had finished working for the day, however, the sun had come out and it was shaping up to be a nice afternoon. It occurred to me that I could use Nice Ride, the local bike sharing program to get home! Huzzah!

Luckily, I had previously downloaded the Nice Ride app for Android, which is a handy tool that shows you on a Google map exactly where you are, where the Nice Ride stations are, and the status of that station.

I was pretty deep into North MPLS, a little beyond the Nice Ride service area, so the nearest station was about 0.8 miles away. It was a pretty easy 15 minute walk, which gave me plenty of time to ruminate on the subject of bike sharing and transit.

As a side note:

In my case, I thought it was interesting that I greatly preferred to use the bike sharing system over taking transit, and I am decidedly pro-transit.  Despite the fact that I was walking along Lyndale Avenue in North MPLS, which I assume is a heavily traveled bus route. I know that parts of North MPLS have some of the best bus service in the metro area.  Still, there were too many unknowns for transit to be an attractive option: how long until the next bus arrives? Which route do I want? Where will that bus take me? How many transfers will I have to make? How long will the trip take?  None of that info is readily available to potential transit users in Minneapolis that haven’t planned ahead. I know there are 800 numbers you can call, and probably an Android App to download that would tell me that, but that was still enough of a hurdle that it wasn’t an attractive option.  Nice Ride, on the other hand, put me in complete control of my route and my timing.  For me, Nice Ride was the obvious choice. Or maybe I just like bikes. I dunno.

Unfortunately, Nice Ride was not as convenient as I had hoped it would be. When I arrived at the Nice Ride station at 26th Avenue N and Lyndale Avenue, I found the station to be entirely out of commission. It was powered on, with the touchscreen encouraging me to “touch here to start.” But no amount of touching yielded any results. I was just out-of-luck.

I called customer service, but after waiting on hold for several minutes, I decided I should just start walking to the next station on Broadway Avenue, about 0.6 miles away. I managed to complete most of the 0.6 mile walk while I was still on hold. Eventually, a service representative answered and thanked me for reporting the problem, but did not provide the apology I felt I deserved at the time for the inconvenience.

Luckily, the Broadway Avenue Station was fully functional, and my ride from North MPLS to my home in Powderhorn was relatively uneventful.

The point of this rambling post is as follows: I really want Nice Ride to be successful, but this type of technical malfunction is unacceptable. I’ve only tried using Nice Ride twice now, but both of my experiences with the system have involved calls to customer service because some aspect of the system wasn’t working correctly. All I can say is that I hope the regular users of the system are having much better luck with the system than I have had.

Have you experienced similar technical problems with Nice Ride, or am I just lucky?