Madison and Trek Bikes hopping on a potential trend

A few years back in Paris, we noticed bicycle racks where people could access industrial-strength bikes to ride around the city. It seemed like a pretty good idea. I’m not sure how bike-friendly Paris really is, from the standpoint of a rider – but you couldn’t give me a car, either. I’ve never seen a city with more bicycle riders than Amsterdam and the streets are plenty narrow, too, so I’m guessing being bike-friendly has as much or more to do with driver attitudes than anything else. (Amsterdam has so many bikes that they have a bicycle-parking ramp at their central train station.)

So it was good to see that the City of Madison is picking up on the trend and if any city in Wisconsin can make something like that work, it’s Madison. Under the plan, around 350 bikes and 35 kiosks will be scattered around Madison through a program called B-Cycle, an arm of Trek Bicycle Corp. The bikes are stored in specially designed stations (and I shot a quick pic of one in Paris to show what something like that might look like.)

At first, it looked like it would cost Madison $100,000 annually to get things rolling, but the contract was renegotiated after Mayor Paul Soglin took over in April. Now, rather than the city sharing in the costs and potential profits of the B-Cycle program, the program would cost the city $1 per year and the city would receive no part of the profits, if any were produced from the program. The contract was also extended from three years to five, with an option to renew in 2016, according to the Capital Times.

Entry into Trek’s program may represent a first for Wisconsin, but this is an idea that is starting to catch on elsewhere in the U.S. A recent article in The Washington Post tells us that more than 300,000 rides have been logged since their bikeshare program launched last September and people were using the bikes an average of 3,000 times a day last month. That’s a lot of wheeling. People can join the program for 24 hours, five days, a month or a year.

It will be interesting to see if this thing catches on.

JR

UPDATE: First locations now opening in Madison; rates:

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/article_a0e718aa-83a4-11e0-866f-001cc4c002e0.html

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3 Responses to “Madison and Trek Bikes hopping on a potential trend”

  1. I think HUGE kudo’s should be given to Trek willing to take pretty much all of the risk here.

    Of course, this does give them some value in marketing and goodwill, so even if this loses money, there is still value to be gained for them.

    Once this contract comes up for renewal, if this turns out to be a very profitable venture for Trek, it will be interesting to see how willing the City of Madison is to allow this to remain in the hands of private business, or if they are going to want to capitalize on the excess funds.

    This is a great example of a public-private partnership, and it will be interesting to see how this works out for the City, for Trek, and for commuters in the Madison area.

  2. This may happen in Wausau, but I think it will take some time. We are too stubbornly attached to cars. We also have too many people who are not taken to bicycling.

  3. If I am not mistaken this is not new to Madison. This program has been around for well over a decade but not with Trek. I think it was called “Red Bike”. As you may guess the bikes were painted a flat red, donated and maintained by a couple of the larger bike shops in town.
    Good to see a program like this getting city backing though.

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