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Bikers hit the road during the 2010 Ride the Drive. Among local and visiting cyclists was Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.[/media-credit]

The City of Madison Board of Estimates amended the 2011 Operating Budget Monday to agree to a three-year contract to bring bike sharing to Madison.

The board made a unanimous decision to enter a lease with B-Cycle LLC in partnership with Trek. The agreement allows for plans to install 350 bike stations around the city for public transit.

The Madison Parks Department said B-Cycle is the only organization in the nation to offer a package that provides bikes, bike stations and maintenance.

Trek spokesperson Danielle Dejean addressed the board with the three-year plan that requires $300,000 in installation costs and an additional $100,000 from the city every year.

Dejean compared Madison’s rates with the rates in Denver where B-Cycle is already implemented.

“[The cost break is] a gift from Trek,” Dejean said. “Denver got a discount but it’s not as good as what we have for Madison.”

Dejean added that where Denver implemented the B-Cycle kiosks, 43 percent of car commutes were replaced with bike trips.

Trek does not expect to profit through the contract and agreed to share any unexpected gains with the city, Dejean said.

The agreement with Trek is still dependent on the locations of B-Cycle kiosks, which have yet to be determined. 

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said bicycle sharing is an already established and legitimate form of transportation in Europe, an observation he said was from his trip to Europe last year, which Trek and Saris Cycling Company helped plan.

Cieslewicz also said he hopes to see 35 mobile stations of B-Cycle racks on the ground by May so they are available in time for the warm months.

Trek is in the beginning stages of conversations with the University of Wisconsin to determine kiosk locations. Through recent discussions, Trek has committed to an agreement that will allow students to ride free for the first half hour of each trip.

Amanda White, Associate Director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, expressed her support for the program and marked the benefits B-Cycle might have for Madison’s tourism.

“This will increase the convenience and vibrancy of our town to both our residents and visitors,” White said.

Although the Board of Estimates overall supported the proposal, they raised questions about the legality of advertisements on bike kiosks and ultimately decided to only allow them on the bikes themselves.

According to Dejean, sponsorships make up a large amount of the money Trek is able to use for installation and maintenance of its bicycles.

The proposed bike kiosks would have displayed a poster advertising those sponsorships, a policy that would break Madison’s sign code disallowing advertising on bus stops and certain parks.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, and Satya Rhodes-Conway, District 12, said they were against making an exception for Trek and were opposed to fixed advertising.

Further research was also ordered as to where the kiosks will be located.

Other changes made to the adoption included more transparency between the city and Trek, which agreed to provide a report by Sept. 1 for next year’s budget.

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