Bublr Bikes comes to Shorewood

(Ben Davis) A communal bike company, Bublr, will establish 9-12 stations throughout Shorewood, with the goal of promoting fitness and eco-friendly travel.
(Ben Davis) A communal bike company, Bublr, will establish 9-12 stations throughout Shorewood, with the goal of promoting fitness and eco-friendly travel.

Bublr Bikes, a bike share program that has become popular in several major US and European cities, will arrive in Shorewood in 2015. The Bublr Bikes initiative has already begun in Milwaukee, where several stations were built this summer. MidWest BikeShare, the Milwaukee-based, not-for-profit organization that created Bublr Bikes, plans for 10 working stations to be built in Milwaukee by the end of 2014 and over 100 stations constructed in suburbs in the next few years.

With 10 bikes on each station, Bublr Bikes distributes their locations within a quarter-mile radius and functions as a BYOH system (bring your own helmet). Riders can rent and return at any station in their city.

Shorewood plans to house between nine and twelve stations, most of which center around Capitol Dr., Oakland Ave. and Estabrook Park.

According to bublrbikes.com, there are several benefits to bike share programs. The first is convenience: stations are close together and do not include long turnover times. Second, the transportation device encourages fitness and eco-friendly travel. Finally, the program is inexpensive.

The program costs $7 per day, $20 for a 30-day membership or $35 for a year. Unlike buses and most parking meters, Bublr Bikes must be paid for with a credit or debit card, or a prepaid online membership. This pay policy holds riders accountable for their biking conduct; the organization can monitor bikes that go missing or are damaged.

Several residents have high hopes for the bike share program.

“One of the greatest things about Shorewood is its smaller, walk-able, bike-able size and having a bike share with that many stations in Shorewood means that it will encourage more biking and also renters from people who are going to UWM,” said Mara Kuhlmann, Shorewood resident and biker.

“If we have bike stations near our restaurants and our stores it means that people who are living on the East Side of Milwaukee … will end up biking between destinations … It’ll bring more customers in, which will bring more revenue for Shorewood, so it’s all a good thing,” Kuhlmann said.

Tammy Bockhorst, village trustee, believes public transportation plays a key role in a village like Shorewood.

“Bublr Bikes serves the community’s transportation in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner,” Bockhorst said.

“It not only decreases auto ownership dependency, but also increases connectivity within the village region and beyond. Hopefully, this addition will attract visitors to Shorewood to work, shop and possibly live,” Bockhorst said.

Kuhlmann said that this program is especially beneficial for young adults.

“[For] people who are in college or young out of college, it’s a time in life when you would normally look to get a car to be able to get places and I think it’s a good option for people who don’t want to make that big investment,” Kuhlmann said.

“They say that younger people these days are not as attached to cars as people in my generation were … When you think about, for example, in New York, where people don’t buy cars, you hear about taxis [there] because it’s just a practical way to get around and go short distances. I think the bicycle is kind of like that. Where you don’t have to hassle with parking, you can park your bike right in front of the store, “Kuhlmann said.

Henry Fowler, junior, also supports this bike share program.

“In a village like this, it’s nice that we’re so densely compact that if you’re living in here, there’s no reason why you couldn’t bike or walk to school every morning anyway, so [Bublr Bikes] gives people the opportunity to try that even if they don’t have a bike that’s working or a lock,” Fowler said.

“This is pretty convenient. If there are multiple stations within the district it will be easy to get from place to place. This can only help to embrace eco-friendliness and not use gas,” Fowler said.

According to Bockhorst, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation gave Shorewood a federal grant of $400,000 to help pay for Bublr Bikes. This is about 80% of the total cost for the project. The remaining 20% of the cost will be funded by residents.

by Elizabeth Hayes

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