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.
UPDATE: First locations now opening in Madison; rates: