Campus commuters take B-cycle for a spin

May 23, 2013

Photo: grad student renting bicycle

Marc Robinson, a graduate student from Florida, uses B-cycle while he’s in town with his girlfriend, who is studying at UW-Madison.

Photos: Kait Vosswinkel

Madison B-cycle, a bike rental program that serves the UW campus and surrounding downtown Madison, is seeing a strong increase in ridership as it expands to provide easy access to transportation for quick urban trips by students and other area residents.

Through a series of bike racks, or “B-stations,” stocked with well-maintained Trek three-speed bicycles,  B-cycle allows visitors or commuters access to bikes for the day, week or year.

“Last spring, a friend of mine wanted to go for a bike ride, but I didn't own [a bike], so I rented one,” says UW-Madison senior Alex Stewart.

Stewart is not alone, and as B-cycle has grown in Madison, so has its popularity.

Photo: B-cycle station at Union South

Madison B-cycle has 35 stations in the downtown area, including this one at Union South.

Membership sales for the UW-Madison population spiked between 2011 and 2012, growing from 100 to upwards of 900, according to the company’s 2012 annual report.

Marc Robinson, a graduate student from Florida, uses B-cycle while he's in town with his girlfriend, who is studying at UW-Madison.

“I'm just visiting, so I'm using this as transportation. I really like it,” Robinson says.

One factor central to Madison B-cycle is its convenience. There are 35 B-stations scattered around Madison’s downtown area with 350 bikes available. The bicycles don’t have to be returned to the station they were first rented from, making the system suitable for one-way trips. Check on availability via UW's campus map.

Chih Chen lives outside of downtown Madison but works on campus, and he uses B-cycle for part of his daily commute.

“I like to use the bikes to get around town,” Chen says. “I took the bus in, so I don't have transportation. It's very convenient for me. “

A 356 percent increase in annual memberships recorded from 2011 to 2012 reflects Madison B-cycle’s widespread accessibility.

“Madison B-cycle is ideal for students because it eliminates the worries of bike maintenance, storage, or potentially having your bike stolen,” says program manager Claire Hurley.

An additional perk for UW students, faculty and staff is the reduced membership fee made possible by a partnership with UW-Madison Transportation Services — $20 per year, compared to the normal cost of $65.

Each membership covers unlimited 30-minute bike rides, with a surcharge for longer trips. Weekly and 24-hour passes, without a membership, are also available.   

“[Madison B-cycle] is inexpensive and perfect for beautiful summer days,” Stewart says. “I had a great experience zipping along the lakeshore path.” 

—Kylie Peterson and Kait Vosswinkel