Madison bike-sharing plan back on the road

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The mayor of Madison, Wis., and Trek Bicycle Corp. have reached a deal to ensure that a bike-sharing program can begin there next month as planned.

It's one of several bicycle-sharing projects that are scheduled to launch this spring and summer in forward-looking communities searching for ways to reduce the use of cars for short trips.

The Madison bike-sharing program faced a rough road, however, until Trek came forward and to pay the city's cost for the program over the next five years.

B-cycle partner

Wisconsin-based bicycle maker Trek is a partner in the B-cycle bicycle sharing system that Madison will be launching with 350 bicycles at 35 parking kiosks around town.

The Madison City Council earlier this year approved a contract with B-cycle without putting the job out to bid and agreed to pay $100,000 a year for 3 years for the program. The contract became a campaign issue, considering the city's dire financial straits and the fact it didn't go out to bid.

The new mayor, Paul Soglin, said he supported bike-sharing, but questioned whether the city could afford to pay 10% of its emergency fund for such a project.

New terms

Officials for Trek, based 25 miles away, and B-cycle met with Soglin on Tuesday and hammered out the new agreement.

Under the new terms, announced in a press release, Madison will host the B-cycle program for 5 years, and Trek will pay the costs. The city will not share in any profits during the 5-year contract. This new contract still needs city council approval.

New programs

Meanwhile, other cities are making plans to host bicycle sharing programs.

One of the biggest will be Boston's new Hubway bike-sharing program, which begins this July. The $6 million program uses federal grants, fees and sponsorships to fund the 610 bicycles that can be picked up at 61 stations around downtown. Canada's Public Bicycle System Co., the so-called Bixi system, will supply the bicycles and kiosks.

Bixi also supplies the Capital Bikeshare system in Washington DC and Arlington. That system is adding 25 more stations and 250 more bicycles this summer; it opened last year with 100 stations and 1,000 bicycles. In Canada, Bixi supplies and operates the bike-sharing system in Montreal; it will launch a 1,000-bicycle system in downtown Toronto on May 3.

Meanwhile, B-cycle launched a bike share program inSan Antonio, Texas, with 14 stations and 140 bicycles, and is launching another bike-sharing program this summer in Broward County, Fla. Other cities include Boulder, Colo. and Spartanburg, SC. B-cycle was formed by a partnership of Trek, Human insurance and the advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

B-cycle operates the Denver bike-share system, while Bixi supplied the Minneapolis system, operated by Alta Bikeshare.

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