By Mrinal Gokhale
The sight of light blue bikes marked “Bublr” began in the streets of downtown Milwaukee, later expanding through other Milwaukee neighborhoods a few years ago. As of May 20, Bublr Bikes announced 10 new stations, with a location at Martin Luther King, Jr. King Drive and W. Brown Street being the fourth on Milwaukee’s northwest side.
Bublr Bikes is a Milwaukee nonprofit organization with the mission to “deliver a sustainable, excellent bike share system for all.” The bike share stations are available 24 hours per day. It offers both pay-as-you-go pricing as well as monthly and annual passes sold online. Riders simply swipe their credit card to pay-per-ride and return the bike to any nearby station after their trip.
“The phrase ‘for all’ means a lot to us,” said Kevin Hardman, executive director at Bublr Bikes. “It shouldn’t just be dense and contiguous, but we want to expand co-centrically.” He added that Bublr bike share stations started out being installed downtown, and the plan is to expand all directions. He considers the northwest side an important area.
“King Drive was the next natural step after we added a station near Schlitz Park in 2014, 6th St. and Walnut in 2015 and 6th Street and Reservoir last week,” Hardman said.
The biggest challenge that comes with expanding locations, Hardman said, is finding a location with enough space. He feels that with Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive being a historic and visible street, pedestrians and drivers can easily see the station and spread the word.
“We met with neighborhood groups and the King Drive BID to decide on this location,” Hardman said.
“Placing stations around King Drive has been our plan for two years, but it’s hard to find resources and stakeholders.”
According to Hardman, Bublr plans to add one location at Martin Luther King Jr., Drive and North Avenue by the end of 2016. The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee is one group that met with Hardman to discuss the new location. Executive director Tony Pérez said there have already been positive responses to the new stations.
Through the years, he said the Housing Authority and Bublr worked to identify which properties could help grow the bike system geographically while also diversifying those communities.
“The stations create opportunities for residents to visit new neighborhoods,” Pérez said.
Pérez said that he feels that the northwest side locations especially help the bike share system expand further.
“It’s important to show this is a resource that isn’t just reserved for certain neighborhoods,” Pérez said.
Hardman said that he plans to hold a ceremonial opening event for the new locations, but has not decided on a date as of yet. For more information, visit Bublr Bikes online or through Facebook.