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Monday, June 27, 2011

Bike-sharing program bends the ear of local execs

From an article by Corrine Hess in the Business Journal of Milwaukee:

Finding a parking spot downtown will no longer be an issue for people willing to pedal.

At least, not if a group of local business leaders backing the bicycle rental initiative have any say in it.

The Discovery World museum hosted B-Cycle Thursday, the group responsible for setting up bike rental stations at 11 cities across the country, including Madison. Joel Brennan, president and CEO of Discovery World, invited the B-Cycle team to present their proposal to the museum’s board of directors.

“This is an innovative idea and we are the center of innovation so we thought it was a good fit,” Brennan said.

Lee Jones, director of sales for B-Cycle, said he hoped the event would spark interest in sponsorships for the program in Milwaukee.

The program is not cheap. Each bicycle, which includes the stand, and the software, ranges from $3,500 to $5,500.

B-Cycle installed about 200 bikes in Madison last month and expects to have the project completed by the end of July with 350 bicycles at 35 stations around the city.

Trek , a Waterloo bike manufacturer, donated the bikes in Madison. However, B-Cycle representative acknowledged it’s unlikely that will happen again in Milwaukee.

B-Cycle was started in Boulder, Colo., in 2008 as a partnership between Trek, Humana Inc. of Louisville, Ky., and Boulder advertising agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

The program is modeled after similar endeavors in European cities such as Paris and allows riders to swipe a membership card to unlock a 45-pound bicycle that comes with a lock, lights and basket.

Timing is good for B-Cycle to visit the city. The 11-day Tour of America’s Dairyland series is currently underway and hundreds of bicyclists are riding through southeast Wisconsin. On June 21, more than 600 cyclists rode through Schlitz Park and the Brewers Hill neighborhood.

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