Madison’s bike sharing company, B-cycle, saw a milestone year in 2014 with more than 100,000 rides taken on their bikes.
B-cycle users made a total of 104,274 trips in 2014, according to their annual report. Ridership increased by 28 percent or almost 22,000 rides from 2013, as stated in the report. After opening in 2011, ridership has increased with a snowball effect, B-cycle’s field operations manager Claire Hurley said.
“We’ve had pretty steady growth of ridership in the past four years of operation,” Hurley said. “Once people see that other people are using it, it becomes a little less intimidating. It becomes more normal to take a B-cycle, for commuting or just to take a short trip during lunch.”
B-cycle has about 2,600 members, roughly half of which are affiliated with University of Wisconsin in some way, including students, faculty and staff, Hurley said. However, the other half of B-cycle’s ridership comes from young professionals, commuters and recreational riders.
By charging half-hourly rates, B-cycle is best used for short trips, Hurley said.
“It’s similar to a bus and a bus stop,” Hurley said. “You take [the bike] from one station, check it into another station close to your destination, and when you’re ready to come back you just take another bike out.”
Hurley credited some of B-cycle’s increasing success to its partnerships with organizations within the community. B-cycle added four new stations in 2014 with the help of sponsors such as UW Hospital, UW Credit Union, Hilldale and others, Hurley said.
B-cycle has worked closely with community over the years and has conducted various community building events, Hurley said. Most notably, B-cycle teamed up with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County.
“They painted a number of bikes for us a couple of years ago,” Hurley said. “For every ride each of the painted bikes took in 2012 and 2013 during the month of August, one dollar was donated by Metcalfe’s to the Boys and Girls Club. …We ended up raising almost 4,000 dollars.”
B-cycle has seen the community embrace the bike sharing company and be respectful to their bikes, Hurley said. Because of this, theft is a little to non-existent issue. Each B-cycle bike is also associated with a credit or debit card upon its checkout, which also discourages theft.
Bike theft is a mostly seasonal issue and B-cycle bikes generally do not come up on their radar Joel DeSpain, Madison Police Department spokesperson, said.
“We see all different kinds of bike thefts,” DeSpain said. “Sometimes we see very high-end bikes being stolen off of people’s porches … however, at various times we’ll see a significant number of bike thefts and then they drop off.”
Hurley hopes to get more people on bikes in 2015 and look into the possibility of adding more B-cycle stations. Working with community partners has been crucial to B-cycle’s success and she hopes to continue that into the future, she said.