By Dylan Deprey
For the last seventeen years, Tony Fortun has not owned a car.
He does not pay for gas. His form of transportation is pedal powered. He chose the bike lane as his main route. Fortun has also used Bublr Bikes to travel the streets of Milwaukee for the last two years.
Fortun, like other members of the community attended the public information meeting hosted by the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and Bublr Bikes at the Zeidler Building on Tuesday, February 23.
Patrons expressed concerns and provided input on the proposed bike sharing locations scattered throughout Milwaukee. Enlarged maps surrounded the room and displayed the current and possible locations.
Milwaukee received a $1.6 million federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant for the installation of Bublr Bikes stations in 2014.
The CMAQ grant has covered 12 bike share stations downtown.
The city hopes to use the rest of the grant to install 32 more stations.
Along with these, UW-Milwaukee segregated fees have covered five stations around campus.
Bublr Bikes is a nonprofit program that also finds backing through private fundraising.
The partnership between the DPW and Bublr Bikes is part of a multimodal transportation plan for Milwaukee, which involves improving all forms of transportation throughout the city as well as the proposed streetcar downtown.
The Bublr bike share initiative has also stretched to communities outside of Milwaukee including Shorewood, West Allis and Wauwatosa.
Mayor Tom Barrett attended to show his support for the partnership. Barrett’s philosophy for bike sharing in Milwaukee is that more is better than less.
His main goal is to get the neighborhoods involved and connected.
“We are taking the Milwaukee approach which is a steady as she goes growth pattern,” Barrett said. “Rome was not built in a day and our Bublr Bike system is not built in a day.”
After the quick interjection by Barrett, there was a presentation on the current state and projections for the future of bike sharing in Milwaukee.
Kristin Bennett, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator of the DPW, and Kevin Hardman, executive director of Bublr Bikes were at the meeting to explain the project and listen to concerns.
Hardman described public bike sharing and the multiple payment options, which ranged from the three-dollar 30 minute pay-per-ride to an annual pass with unlimited 60-minute rides.
He also addressed how Bublr is addressing the conflicts with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This particular situation deals with Title II of the ADA, which concerns public funded transportation being designed for accessibility.
He noted Bublr has made improvements on their website to comply with ADA regulations including closed captioning on howto videos.
“We have a long term vision here,” Hardman said.
Bennett explained why certain areas were chosen due to the necessities of the bike share stations.
“They take up a lot of space and need room for maintenance,” Bennett said.
“They are connected to the street lighting system.”
Bennett is hopeful for the installation of these bike share stations in May.
She also stayed after the meeting to listen to concerns and answer questions.
“Most of the concerns we have been getting are things that deal with safety and location of the stations, as well as noise,” Bennett said.
During the winter months, thorough communication dealing with snow removal has not been an issue but does need to be addressed with the proposed stations.
Fortun provided his own input to the meeting while showing support for the Bublr Bike initiative.
“With Bublr Bikes expanding, it gives those wanting to explore an option,” Fortun said.