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Lime Bike Pricing: Outta Control!

Plus striking park workers speak up, taillight vouchers instead of tickets, and strollin' Longfellow in today's Flyover news roundup.

Em Cassel

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

Lime's Per-Minute Pricing Model Is... Really Something

How much do you think it would cost to rent a Lime bike and ride it from 46th & Minnehaha in south Minneapolis to the Stone Arch Bridge area? Six bucks? Ten? Twelve?

Would you have guessed the total is actually closer to 19 fucking dollars?

That's to quote Redditor SpicyMarmots, who recently hit r/Minneapolis with a post titled "Lime Bikes: Jesus Christ." According to the post, the cost of a ride across the Mississippi River to St. Anthony Main—"to literally ride across the 3rd Ave Bridge"—was another $8.

"Are people actually using these things with any regularity? If yes, who?" SpicyMarmots asks. "If not why are there a million of them everywhere?"

All very valid questions! We'd add: Why should anyone rent a bike when it would be cheaper to take an Uber/Lyft, or to pay for parking? How is this the situation in a city that claims, as part of its Transportation Action Plan, to want to reduce trips taken by car? And why, for the love of two-wheeled transit, did the city let Nice Ride quietly disappear rather than investing in its continued operation—even if that would have meant allocating budget for the update and repair of its aging fleet?

We're not the only ones asking: The thread is full of folks bemoaning the demise of the city's beloved and groundbreaking bikeshare program, which you may recall shuttered following the 2022 season after major funders pulled the plug. Its budget shortfall at that time was only about $2 million. (One-time lead sponsor Blue Cross Blue Shield declined to step up and save it.)

SpicyMarmots tells Racket they could have opted for Lime's $12, 60-minute pass, which would have given them enough time for both rides: "I didn't choose that option because it only took about a half hour to get there, so I didn't want to pay for a bunch of time we weren't going to use—did not occur to me that the per-minute price would be so nuts."

Lesson learned: Lime's per-minute pricing is a real lemon.

Let's Hear From Striking Park Workers

As the weeklong strike by Minneapolis park workers concludes today, the Star Tribune's Jennifer Brooks caught up with workers to talk about their demands.

That includes folks like Dan Ament, who works seven days a week as a golf course foreman at two of the city's public golf courses, Hiawatha and Fort Snelling, and who very justifiably asked the Park Board for more help. There's also arborist Scott Jaeger, who moved out of Minneapolis in an effort to make his $67,000 income cover the cost of housing.

The park workers say they've simply been asked to do too much with too little for too long; the strike was an attempt to call awareness to that fact. Minneapolis proudly touts the fact that in most of the city, you're never more than six blocks from a park—but shouldn't the folks who maintain those beautiful outdoor spaces be able to afford to live here and enjoy them, too?

"They keep saying, 'We're not trying to make anyone rich. Neither am I,'" Jaeger tells Brooks. "I just want to be able to buy a home, to live in the city. If that's what park board management sees as being 'rich'—to be able to afford a home in Minneapolis—I think that sends a terrible message."

Broken Light Vouchers > Tickets

According to Caroline Cummings at WCCO, the Minnesota Legislature is backing a popular program that has police giving out vouchers to repair broken headlights and tail lights rather than tickets. Cummings reports that 130 law enforcement agencies statewide are part of the Lights On program, which is meant to help low-income Minnesotans avoid the "downward spiral" that can come from a ticket, with fines and fees on top of the cost of the repair itself.

"We do a survey on each voucher. And one of the things that we've been telling the chiefs of police is that 99.2% of the motorists who have been stopped and given a voucher said the interaction with a police officer was satisfactory or very satisfactory," CEO John Harrington, a former police chief and the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, tells WCCO. "I have been a chief—at [Metro] Transit, St. Paul, and the state. There's not a program that I've ever been involved with I got 99% favorable reviews on."

More than 10,200 vouchers have been issued since Lights On launched in 2017 following Philando Castile's killing during a traffic stop for a broken tail light, and this year the Legislature provided $1.2 million in funding the program, with Republicans and Democrats alike backing the proposal.

Another Local Walking Tour From Andy Sturdevant

"Andy Sturdevant’s whole deal is kind of hard to describe."

So begins a delightful Longfellow Whatever preview of an upcoming event from the local "one-of-a-kind chronicler of Minneapolis street life and history," who despite having no formal training in subjects like architecture, history, urbanism, and geography, has nonetheless written books and zines and hundreds of MinnPost columns on all those things and more. (He's also, full disclosure, a close personal friend/brunch buddy of Racket's Keith Harris.)

Sturdevant's "whole deal" includes walking tours—he's led informational strolls about everything from public restrooms to porches to rock 'n' roll history in the past—and the semi-recent transplant to Longfellow will lead a neighborhood walking tour of his newish digs this weekend. As a recent dad, he's planned a route that'll take walkers to notable places for neighborhood youngsters past and present: Brackett Field, the Wonderland Amusement and Infantorium, Bussman's Ice Cream Shop. You can book your spot on the Saturday tour here.

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