December 31, 2011

Madison B-Cycle

I should start by saying that I’m not a Madison B-Cycle Member, nor have I ever ridden one. I live downtown and have a reliable bike that is a joy to ride. Still, as a Madison resident, I benefit from the service because it gets more people on bikes. This makes bicycling safer for everyone by increasing bicyclists' visibility. It also garners support for more investment in bicycle infrastructure. Furthermore, it demonstrates that bicycling is a fun activity for everyone that can be simply integrated into daily life.

Bike sharing makes it easy and convenient for more people to take short trips around town by bike. The following is from in their FAQ section in response to “Why do we need Madison B-Cycle?”:

The B-cycle is a magic bike: there when you need it and gone when you don’t. No more hassles with locking, maintaining, fixing, or storing your getting-around-town bike. Let B-cycle take care of all that! About 40% of all trips made in America each day are fewer than two miles long. That’s the perfect length for a bicycle trip! A network of B-cycles are located throughout Madison and allows people to economically and conveniently avoid road congestion and parking problems, and reduce pollution. That’s not all: biking also improves your health and puts a smile on your face!

The upright step-through design of the Trek bikes, chain guard, fenders, and skirt guard allow use in any clothing. I saw a variety of people getting around town on them since the stations began popping up. There were people in suits and dresses cruising through the city on B-Cycles without a stitch of cycling gear. Most users I saw were helmet free and going at a casual pace. I liked to see what people were carrying in the front baskets - groceries, beer, musical instruments, purses and backpacks.

Many people see bikes as more of a toy than a legitimate means of transportation. With more everyday people getting around on bike in a casual and simple manner, the more it will be accepted as a mainstream, daily activity. Also, the benefits of increasing the number of short trips taken by bike instead of car make Madisonians healthier according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. You can read about that study here.

My favorite B-Cycle spotting was when I glanced down a driveway to see three women, one perched precariously on a B-Cycle and the two others on either side providing stability and words of encouragement as they taught their friend to ride a bike.

Thanks Trek and B-Cycle for helping more people ride, some for their first time.

1 comment:

  1. Back when the B-Cycles were first introduced we wondered, at first, who was riding all of the B-Cycle bikes since we had not seen any on the streets. Then after a late dinner on the Square we found out that it was the slightly-inebreated or drunk people using the bikes to get from one bar to the next. Of course! Only in Wisconsin...