The product we peddle was introduced in the late 19th century, and bicycles became part of the sharing economy as early as 1965. In 2010, bike share went mainstream in the United States with the launch of Denver BCycle.
Eleven years later, BCycle LLC — a fully-owned subsidiary of Trek Bicycle — has a seat at the table with the innovators and entrepreneurs of our community.
Why? While you only get one chance to start a business from scratch, you can and must continue to reinvent yourself and your business. That’s what we’re doing at BCycle.
We got into the bike share business for a simple reason— to change the world by getting more people on bikes. Despite our early success — with more than 50 bike share systems launched and over 12,000 shared bikes in cities across the country — we knew bike share hadn’t reached its potential. We had great community leaders, best-in-class equipment, and experienced operations, but bike share still didn’t capture as substantial a portion of mode share as we had hoped. Except for a few large, dense urban centers, a bike share program was lucky to hit 1-2 trips per bike per day (a common metric in bike share).
Then, like Dylan before us, we went electric.
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E-bikes were revolutionizing the cycling industry, and we had a strong signal from Trek’s other business units that they could do the same for bike share.
In June 2019, we outfitted Madison BCycle with over 300 e-bikes, making Wisconsin’s capital the first city to fully convert its bike share system to electric. Since that launch, trips have been on the rise.
We’ve witnessed more than twice as many trips this summer than last, and our figures continue to climb each week. Our longtime members are riding more often, and new riders who hadn’t given the old red bikes a second thought (including those whose physical limitations had kept them from using bike share) are now making e-bikes a part of their daily routine. Riders are using them to commute, see the city, and get moving.
We couldn’t be prouder to prove the theory that e-bikes change the game for bike share right here in our hometown. Madison isn’t just our backyard. It’s a prime location to launch the latest in bike share technology, with its strong bike infrastructure and culture, a tech-savvy and forward-thinking population, and transit-minded city leadership.
Madison is just the beginning. We’re building on the partnerships we’ve created over the past decade with communities across the United States, and we’re poised to make bike share a meaningful part of cities’ transportation options. As cities face complex problems, from congestion to health to transportation access, BCycle will continue to reinvent its wheels to be part of the solution.