Nice Ride, Minnesota…

… or should that be “I Got Taken for a Ride, Minnesota?” You be the judge. I’d say it’s 50/50. The Nice Ride Minnesota folks need to cough up a little more information, and I need to do a little more homework. But now that I have the fair and unbiased statements out of the way, let me tell you about my experience…

Minneapolis just instituted a great new program called Nice Ride Minnesota. It’s actually a very cool concept. One way bike rentals in the city. 24-hour bike rentals in the city. Take. Ride. Return. (There, they should be happy. I used their tag line.) I had noticed the little rental kiosks, and innately understood that they were on-the-spot rentals, but never really dug any deeper. It’s a bike rental, right? It’s cute and bright green and cheap. That’s good enough for me.

So, today? It was a perfect storm for an impromptu rental. I ride the bus to work, had to run some errands during lunch, and was running late getting back to the office. I spotted a Nice Ride Minnesota rental station (again, how happy are they? I keep using their name in my post!), swiped my debit card, and sped back to the office.

I walked my bike into the office, parked it by my cube (I did want bragging rights, you know. Supporting the city. Feeling green. Yada, yada, yada.), and the exclamations began… “You rented a bike!” “I love that you opted in!” “Was it easy? Are those three speeds?” “Hope you didn’t use a debit card!” Wait… What? Use my debit card? Of course I used a debit card. I ALWAYS use a debit card. “Check your bank account, you just got slapped with a $250 hold for 10 days!” AAAUUUGGHHH!!!! What? Really? In moments, something glorious turned sour. And expensive. If only for 10 days. But did I mention I’m flying home to see my parents tomorrow? Nice. Conveniently low on cash. Love that.

Sure enough, after logging on to USAA — the world’s BEST bank (have you seen their iPhone app? Deposit checks by photo?) — there it was. Clear as day. Big as life. Ugly as sin. $250 listed as pending… I’ll tell you what’s pending. My love for this damn Nice Ride Minnesota is pending! Now to their credit, they recently posted (6/14) on their site — albeit a little whiney — that they were working on this little snafu… Hmmm… When did you launch, Nice Ride? And you’re just talking now? Well, they started posting on their site as early as May 18th. They launched June 10th. And when did the first inkling that DEBIT CARDS AND NICE RIDE MINNESOTA DON’T MIX come about? The Star Tribune covered it on their blog just today, and WCCO covered it before that — all well after the program launched.

Judging by the commentary on their website, I’m not alone, so I’m feeling better. Still cash deprived, but not alone in my frustration. The only real compensation in this whole affair came from Mother Nature. She held off on the thunderstorms until after I returned my very expensive bike to the nearest kiosk and hitched a ride home in a car. Now THAT was a nice ride, Minnesota.

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