Fargo bike share program off to fast start
Local officials were upbeat when a bike share program was launched in Fargo in 2015, but questions remained about how quickly residents and college students would embrace the program.
Bike share programs have gained in popularity in larger metropolitan areas like Minneapolis, Denver and Philadelphia. But the programs, which have been touted as a way to encourage physical activity and reduce vehicle traffic, typically take a few years to gain momentum.
The Fargo bike share program was an immediate success, with more than 143,000 rides in its first year in 2015, placing it fifth in most total trips, behind established bike share programs in Santiago, Chile, Denver, Philadelphia, and Austin, Texas.
Fargo also had the most rides per bike per day, beating out many established bike share programs in larger cities.
"Bike share programs in many cities help people actively move for that first and last mile of transportation," said Sara Watson Curry, director of operations for Great Rides, Inc., which operates the Fargo bike share program. "Maybe they are parking somewhere and then opting to take a bike somewhere else; maybe they are taking their lunch break and hopping on a bike and incorporating a little active movement into their daily lifestyle."
The Fargo bike share program has 11 stations like this and 100 bikes.
POPULAR WITH COLLEGE STUDENTS
The program is primarily geared towards helping North Dakota State University students travel easily between NDSU's campus and downtown Fargo, and NDSU students have made up the vast majority of its riders. But the program, which has 11 stations in Fargo and 100 bikes, has also been growing in popularity among downtown Fargo residents.
Curry said Great Rides hopes to increase the number of stations, bikes and its geographic footprint as it grows.
HOW IT WORKS
NDSU students can use the bike share program for free by swiping their student ID cards after enrolling their ID online. Others can purchase monthly or annual memberships online, or pay per ride by swiping their credit card at a bike station.
The program started as a partnership between NDSU and the City of Fargo and is funded through NDSU student fees, and sponsorships by the city and other partners.
SPONSORS HELP SUPPORT PROGRAM
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota is one of a number of sponsors, which help to provide additional funds to the program in exchange for displaying the company's logo on some of the bike share bikes.
"We've been really interested in supporting the bike share program for several years now and have just been waiting for a great opportunity to get in," said Jacinta Riedinger, BCBSND's manager of wellness services. "It really supports our corporate vision to enhance the health, security and well-being of our members in the communities we serve. It also aligns really closely with our new BlueElements platform."
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's BlueElements platform takes a broad view of health and wellness, emphasizing how the six health dimensions intersect and affect a person's well-being. The six dimensions are physical, social, emotional, financial, professional and environmental.