Minneapolis, St. Paul Weigh Joint Bike, Scooter Program
A Spin brand scooter on a sidewalk in Mill Ruins Park in Minneapolis. melissamn / Shutterstock.com

Minneapolis, St. Paul Weigh Joint Bike, Scooter Program

For the first time, Minneapolis and St. Paul are issuing a joint solicitation for their bike and scooter programs to develop a “cohesive transportation system.”

For the first time since it partnered with Nice Ride more than ten years ago, Minneapolis is issuing a joint solicitation for bike and scooter programs with St. Paul.

Previously, Minneapolis and St. Paul issued separate contracts for the programs. But with all previous bike and scooter programs, grants, and license agreements expiring in late 2021—including Nice Ride, Bird, Lyft, and Lime—the cities are moving forward with a joint solicitation to form a “cohesive transportation system,” said Danielle Elkins, mobility manager for the city of Minneapolis.

“The city and its partner jurisdictions have entered into a [memorandum of understanding] to jointly develop the solicitation and attempt to find qualified vendors that can serve all jurisdictions, but it is the responsibility of each jurisdiction to select and enter into license agreements with qualified vendors,” she said. “We will select vendors based on their ability to meet the needs and goals of our respective jurisdictions.”

The University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board are also participating in the joint solicitation.

Minneapolis partnered with Nice Ride in 2008, establishing the first nonprofit bike-sharing program in North America, according to a news release issued by the city. In 2018, the city launched its motorized foot scooter pilot program—now currently in a license agreement with Bird and Lyft. St. Paul didn’t launch its own shared bike and scooter programs until 2011.

City officials hope the joint solicitation will advance Minneapolis’s transportation goals, which include removing barriers to access.

Contracts for the cities’ scooter programs have been quite competitive in prior years. Earlier this year, scooter operator Lime cried foul when Bird landed a contract with Minneapolis, despite allegedly failing to provide the required number of scooters in lower income neighborhoods, the Star Tribune reported in May. At the time, city officials said they didn’t have the “proper tools to document compliance,” according to the newspaper.

But now, operators will be required to document distribution in the city, and post the progress on the city’s compliance dashboard.

Along with meeting the city’s equity requirements, the vendors will also have to implement low-income pricing programs. They’ll also need to to educate riders on safe riding and improper parking, according to the city.

“Partner vendors will be selected based on how they address non-smartphone access, cash payment, and transit card integration and meet the requirements of our license agreements,” Elkins said.

The proposals from potential vendors will be reviewed collectively to determine which companies qualify for a license. The request for proposal document can be found on the Minneapolis’s eSupplier portal.