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Madison B-cycle trips, mileage and members all up in 2012

Credit:Madison B-cycle

Madison B-cycle users in 2012 more than doubled their mileage from last year, the bike-sharing program said in an annual report released Friday.

The report notes customers took 63,325 trips and rode B-cycle's shiny red bikes 94,402 miles in 2012, up from 18,051 trips and 36,618 miles in its inaugural 2011 season. This year, B-cycle was available from March 21 through December 14 at 32 stations clustered around the city's downtown, near east side and near west side. The program is a partnership between Trek Bikes and the city of Madison.

The increase comes as bike-sharing programs are proliferating and making up a larger chunk of the country's urban transit networks. A recent report (PDF) from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center lists 41 cities and college campuses that either now have bike-sharing programs or plan to introduce them in 2013. They range from bike-friendly cities like Boulder, Colorado, to those that are car-centric, like Houston.

Commuters seemed to dominate B-cycle use in 2012, says program manager Claire Hurley.

"This year, it's really transitioned to where the majority of people using B-cycle are going to work or using B-cycle during their lunch hour when they're going downtown and don't want to move their car," Hurley says.

Users are no longer "just using the bikes as kind of a novelty," she adds. Indeed, 62% of B-cycle trips in 2012 were made by people who bought annual memberships, according to the report.

The system saw its annual memberships explode, from 475 to 2,150. Most members lived in the Madison area, but a few hailed from Green Bay, the Twin Cities, and Chicago, and some were from as far away as Atlanta and Los Angeles. Hurley says some bike-share programs elsewhere in the country, including Denver, Boulder and San Antonio, saw their trip numbers and membership sales stay flat this year.

The report also includes the results of a survey that attempts to break down users' riding habits in more detail. A majority of respondents reported taking four or more bike rides per week and said that going to work was their most common use for B-cycle. However, this survey is tilted toward annual members, who made up 82% of respondents.

Some used the bike as part of a larger commuter, including one unnamed respondent from Janesville, who wrote: "Rather than drive, I take the Van Galder bus to the [Memorial] Union, jump on a bike and peddle the lake-shore path most days."

"Many of our annual members live in Waunakee or Sun Prairie and will park near an outlying station for free, then use a B-cycle to get to their office downtown," Hurley says. "This, I've heard, saves up to $12 per day in parking costs."

Hurley declined to release detailed information about B-cycle's revenues and operating expenses.

In 2013, B-cycle plans to add 30 new bikes and two new stations, though Hurley says it has not yet been decided where they will go.

Read the annual report.

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