Madison B-Cycle kicks off spring season with new bike stations and poetry

Spring is officially here, and Madison B-Cycle has geared up their bikes for the new season. Bikes began to go out to the stations around the city as early as 7 a.m. on March 20 and will continue to hit the stands for the next few days.

At 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20  Madison B-Cycle had their official kickoff of the season with Mayor Paul Soglin and Trek Bicycle President John Burke, starting at the Madison City-County building and ending with an inaugural bike ride around the Capitol.

 Madison B-Cycle has many things in store for their bikes this season to continue the growth of the company, according to its City Manager Claire Hurley.

“We will be continuing to expand the partnership with UW-Madison by hosting a lot of events on campus to engage students and let them know the value of B-Cycle,” Hurley said.

As an added bonus to students and other community members who have an annual B-Cycle pass, a new program is being introduced this year called B-Connected. With membership card in hand, B-Connected will allow riders to ride for free in any other B-Cycle city around the nation -- over 15 locations.

B-Cycle will host some of their own events while partnering with the Bike Federation of Wisconsin on their Bike to Work Week, May 13-17.

“The best way to engage with our central customers is face to face meeting at events,” explained Hurley.

B-Cycle will also add two new locations to Madison this year, including one at Central Library on West Mifflin Street following the end of its construction in mid-May. The second new location has not been announced yet.

Another Memorial Union station, which is one of the most popular in the campus area, will be relocated. That station will be moved to Tripp Circle, from its opening until student move out day to accommodate students while the Union is under construction. The station will move back to the Memorial Union at the end of construction.

The newest upgrade to Madison B-Cycle will be the installation of artwork on thirty of their bikes. The company partnered with Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, a program started by Shoshauna Shy in 2004 to bring poetry out of traditional classrooms and libraries to people in their everyday lives.

Shy has partnered with many companies, including Community Car, and she has worked with products from java jackets to bookmarks and postcards. She contacted Madison B-Cycle last fall to inquire about their bikes.

“I thought it would be really nice if there were some poems that referenced places in Madison within the B-Cycle radius,” Shy said. “We wanted poems about anything at all but needed them to ... reference an intersection, park, building, neighborhood, or lake in Madison."

Over 300 poems were submitted to Shy by the Nov. 30 deadline. Poems came in from around the nation and as far as Great Britain and Germany from people that had lived in or visited Madison.

“Submissions were narrowed down to ten poems. Those ten will be on 30 of our bikes that will be circulating throughout downtown Madison,” Hurley said. “People will be able to enjoy a poem when taking out a bike and add to the experience of riding in Madison.” 

The poems all have a theme related to Madison. A few of the poems are about the UW-Madison campus, and others feature iconic sites around the city.

The bikes with poetry will debut in April for National Poetry Month at a launch event at a station near the lake. The poets will be invited and each take the first ride on the bikes featuring their respective poems.