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Forum editorial: Synergy – bicycles and Fargo

In short time, Fargo’s Great Rides bicycle program has become one of the nation’s most successful services of its kind. Every time the numbers are crunched, Great Rides sets records for the city, and usage surpasses similar ventures in much bigger cities. It’s an understatement to declare the innovative bike share business a success.

The new numbers are impressive. Great Rides counted more than 100,000 rides in six months with 100 bikes available. Consider that Minneapolis Nice Rides and Denver B-Cycle did 100,000 rides each in a full year with 800 bikes in each city. Clearly, the Fargo program is very popular.

The early success proves that advocates of Great Rides not only were right that it would roll in Fargo, but also that even their optimism did not anticipate the widespread acceptance of the program. The Great Rides business model not only works, but works even better than advertised.

It’s also instructive that the Fargo bike service is setting records in a place where winter is less than bicycle friendly. Those city officials and others who doubted the bike program would work often cited the long winter as a negative factor. They were wrong. While summer use has been spectacular, one of the major reasons the program is working so well is use by North Dakota State University students during the school year. That’s mostly winter.

Great Rides growth should also put an end to resistance to bicycle lanes on city thoroughfares and other streets. Advocates for bicycle lanes, in particular City Commissioner Mike Williams, overcame objections from opponents, in particular City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn. The popularity of bicycles (Great Rides and private bikes) and the street lanes confirms that Williams got it right.

It’s taken about four years for Great Rides to get to where it is today. It’s occasionally been a bumpy ride, but it’s been worth the effort. The results prove it.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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