Students earning financial aid eligible for $5 bike memberships

New this year, Nice Ride for All is offering discounted bike rides to all University students who receive federal grants.

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Ethan Fine

Nice Ride Bikes sit at a bike rack on Pleasant St SE on the University of Minnesota’s campus, Sept. 9. Nice Ride is Minneapolis’ bike-sharing service, with over 3,000 bikes and 400 stations for renting a ride.

Olivia Stevens

Most University of Minnesota students are familiar with the green bikes visible across campus, but many do not take advantage of them as a reliable source of transportation. Nice Ride is looking to change that.

Nice Ride for All has provided $5 annual memberships to people who qualify for a state or federal assistance program since 2019. However, FAFSA was not included as an eligibility qualifier until this April.

All students receiving Federal Student Aid are now eligible for the discounted membership.

Included in that membership is unlimited 45-minute rides on a bike for the year, with a $0.05 charge for every minute over that limit. E-bikes and scooters are also discounted, with e-bikes charged an extra $0.05 per minute and scooters charged an extra $0.19 per minute.

How to sign up

Students can sign up for the program online or in-person with a Nice Ride worker.

Third-year students Joe Nihart and Shawn Frommelt decided to sign up for the program after being “enticed” by the free water bottles at the University transportation fair Sept. 7.

“The lady said it was five dollars for free rides all year, and that’s kind of a steal,” Nihart said. “Especially being a student in my third year, I see the Nice Ride stations everywhere, and it’s one of those things where you kind of never do it for some reason, but if it was just free to use, I would do it.”

Frommelt said he lives two-and-a-half miles from campus and has to take the metro to class every day. He said he sees Nice Ride docks around his neighborhood and that he thinks other students would also find the membership useful.

Students who signed up at the event had their financial aid credentials verified on the spot and were able to start using the bikes that day.

Students who sign up online must submit proof that they receive one of the federal or state grants listed here. The application will be processed and approved within several business days.
Each Nice Ride for All membership is $84 cheaper than a standard yearly membership and there is currently no limit on participation. The program is possible through Lyft, which acquired Nice Ride in 2018 and is funding the discounted rate.

Director of State and Local Policy and Outreach at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs Frank Douma said students may want to be cautious about giving confidential information to large corporations like Lyft. Data breaches in the first half of 2021 exposed 18.8 billion private records, and students are required to submit financial and personal information to sign up for a membership.

There are currently 800 people signed up for the discounted membership program in Minneapolis, said Jordan Levine, the head of transit, bike and scooter communications at Lyft. About half of those people are students who signed up in the past month, Levine wrote in an email.

Minneapolis is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States, making it much easier for a person to be “multimodal and efficient,” Douma said.

“If you’re in a place where you can conveniently access a bicycle, you can probably get where you’re going more quickly and conveniently without polluting the environment and at a lower cost,” Douma said.