Trek’s BCycle bike share program in Madison is about to go electric.
The company, which for the last nine years has provided point-to-point bike rental service in Madison, is retiring its familiar red bicycles and rolling out sleek, white e-bikes next week.
"It’s a big deal," said Trek spokesman Eric Bjorling in an email, "the first full transition from non-electric to full electric in the US."
A BCycle announcement says the company is retiring the red bikes after "nearly a decade of reliable service" and bringing in a fleet of "300 shiny new pedal-assist electric bikes.”
The company is marking the rollout with a June 18 inaugural ride on the pedal-assisted vehicles around the Capitol Square. Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Trek president John Burke are scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m. before the ride.
The company plans to stage a demonstration on Thursday, June 13, at the top of State Street from noon to 1 p.m., according to its Facebook page.
BCycle, which has been operating in Madison since 2011, runs bike share systems in approximately 42 cities nationwide, with 45 stations and 350 bikes in Madison.
It was unclear if the company’s entire nationwide fleet was switching over to e-bikes. Trek and Bcycle officials were not immediately available for comment.
BCycle has been introducing e-bikes in other locales. According to a story on the website SmartCitiesWorld in November, BCycle had planned to introduce e-bikes in Austin, Broward County in Florida, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Madison.
In Austin, a 2018 pilot program temporarily tripled ridership, according to the Austin Monitor.
The move comes amid explosive growth in electric-powered transportation. Wisconsin state lawmakers are working on a plan to authorize e-scooters, which have proved popular in hundreds of communities across the nation.
E-bikes introduced in other cities have also raised concerns about fast-moving cycles on bike paths and on other bikeways.
In New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, an e-bike outfit operated by Lyft pulled all the vehicles temporarily after a braking issue sent numerous riders over the handlebars.