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Super Bowl bikeshare wants to help fans navigate wintry Minneapolis

Electric assist, fat tire bikes make it easier to ride through freezing streets

A Defiant electric assist, fat tire bike, part of a novel bikeshare system being set up in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.
Image courtesy Koloni Share

When crowds begin arriving in Minneapolis later this month in anticipation of Super Bowl 52, the city’s transportation infrastructure will be tested. Public transit and companies such as Uber and Lyft need to prepare for the roughly one million fans expected in the Twin Cities during the 10-day of festivities leading up to the game on February 4, as well as temperatures forecast to be in the teens.

A pair of Midwest startups believes part of the solution lies in a novel winter bikeshare system.

A partnership between Koloni Share, an Iowa-based sharing economy startup, and Defiant, an electric bike company from neighboring Saint Paul, plans to set up and operate an temporary, app-based bike share system equipped to withstand Minnesota’s frigid temperature. Defiant’s fat tire bikes boast wider tires and treads to plow through ice and snow and electric-assist technology, making it easier and faster to travel across town and navigate roads with ice and snow.

“Transit it really going to be limited,” says Kyle Sheker, a co-founder of Koloni who will be on-site in Minneapolis to help run and troubleshoot the temporary system. “With lots of options like Uber, taxis, and mass transit being full, this’ll be an alternative if you want to get across town quickly.”

Courtesy Koloni Share

Rides will cost $2 for 30 minutes. This temporary bikeshare system will operate from January 29 through February 4 utilizing the Koloni Share app, which will utilize GPS technology much like the wave of dockless bikeshare systems that have started to fill streets across the U.S. The Twin Cities already has bikeshare via Nice Ride, which has 1,7000 vehicle, but the system had its annual seasonal shut down on November 5th due to the weather. Sheker hopes the novelty and weatherproofing of his scheme attracts riders.

Currently, Sheker and others are working on arranging deals with local businesses, such as breweries and hotels, to create pick-up and drop-off points. Using geofencing, which cordons off areas via GPS, Koloni will set up a series of stops for potential riders in and around downtown MInneapolis to lock and unlock bikes. A map of locations and participating businesses will eventually be posted on Koloni’s Facebook page.

Sheker hopes that users will get a chance, however brief due to the weather, to experience the city on the back of a bike, as thousands of Minnesotans do when pedaling through their city. While the city does have its share of all-weather cyclists, keep in mind this is also the city of the Skyway system of raised and enclosed pedestrian footbridges for getting around downtown.