New Bike Transit System?
A city committee votes to support a system of bike-sharing kiosks. Other cities have cut auto traffic this way.
Bike-sharing could come to Milwaukee next spring, At Wednesday’s meeting of the Public Works Committee, members voted unanimously in support of a resolution by Aldermen Bob Bauman, Nik Kovac, Michael Murphy, and Tony Zielinski directing city departments to pursue a bike-sharing program. The resolution directs them to identify funding, work with organizations to implement the system, and assist in efforts to establish and maintain bicycle facilities.
Bike-sharing programs create a series of kiosks throughout a city which allow users to rent bicycles for short trips. The bikes are generally a sturdy, one-size-fits-all design that’s easily used by people of all skill levels.
More than 20 large U.S. cities – including Madison, Chicago, Des Moines, Minneapolis, and Denver — have implemented bike-sharing. Why? As City Engineer Jeff Polenske explained during the meeting, “it really does act as a transit system.” Bike-sharing systems can help to relieve road and parking congestion, enhance personal mobility, and reduce pollution. And as Ald. Kovac put it, “they won’t just enjoy bikes, they’ll enjoy the city more.”
The Milwaukee effort has been spearheaded by Bruce Keyes, Barry Mainwood and Jack Hirt, who make up Midwest Bikeshare, Inc., a non-profit which promotes such systems. Midwest Bikeshare seeks to fund the system through a variety of sponsorships, partnerships, ad placements on the system, memberships, and fees. The Milwaukee system would start with 25 stations focused on Downtown, and would operate from March until December each year. UWM, Marquette University, Schlitz Park, The Historic Third Ward Association, and the US Bank building have all expressed a desire to be partners in helping start the system. If the plans move ahead on schedule, bike-sharing could roll out in Milwaukee by March 2013.
This weekend there is another opportunity to try out B-Cycle’s bike-sharing system. There will be four B-Cycle bikes available to try out at the Tour De Fat, starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday.