Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Fundraising Begins for Riverwest Bublr Station

Crowdfunding campaign would bring extension of bike sharing system north into Riverwest.

By - Oct 13th, 2017 02:14 pm
Riverwest and Bublr Network. Blue dots are existing, green dots are proposed.

Riverwest and Bublr Network. Blue dots are existing, green dots are proposed.

Riverwest is one of the city’s most bicycle friendly neighborhoods, but it lacks a Bublr Bikes bike sharing station. The non-profit system, which is built around station-to-station trips, has been building out a network from a combination of philanthropic support and public grants. The system’s entry into Riverwest will be the first funded by the crowd. A kickoff event will be held October 19th at Company Brewing.

The price tag to build and maintain a nine-bike station is $60,000 and includes the station, bikes, associated technology and year-round maintenance,  notes Bublr executive director Sally Sheperdson. Mario and Cathy Costantini, owners of Riverwest-based La Lune Furniture Company, have agreed to contribute in-kind to build the concrete pad the station will go on according to Sheperdson. An additional fundraising email states that Centro Cafe, Cafe Corazon, Fix Development, Fuel Cafe and Bliffert Lumber have pledged financial support for the new station. Colectivo Coffee will donate $1 per bag from sales of special Bublr-branded coffee to the campaign.

An online crowdfunding campaign is live, with $1,250 in donations. The campaign is seeking to raise $46,900.

The lack of a true Riverwest station hasn’t gone unnoticed. Via email from a bike sharing conference, Sheperdson notes: “We have received so many calls and emails asking about a station in Riverwest. Because this neighborhood has a strong sense of community and identity we wanted to work with the community to raise the funds to bring Bublr there.”

Two bike sharing stations are technically located in the neighborhood, but they’re both so far from the heart of the action that they’re nearly useless for Riverwest visitors and residents. For example, I rode a Bublr bike from the East Side to Riverwest this morning. After getting off my bike N. Commerce St. and E. North Ave. at the UWM RiverView Residence Hall, I still faced a .8 mile, 10+ minute walk to get to Riverwest Radio in the heart of the neighborhood on E. Center St. Ironically, I actually walked further than I biked on my trip.

The station connects the residence hall with the East Side, but is too far away to connect with the neighborhood. Similarly, a station at N. Humboldt Ave. and N. Commerce St. serves the Beerline neighborhood and a nearby Pick ‘n Save grocery store, but is actually closer to E. Brady St. than it is to E. Center St.

A new station in the heart of the neighborhood along E. Center St. or E. Locust St. will increase the utility of the existing stations and provide another way for residents and visitors to get to Riverwest.

Bublr Bikes currently operates a network of 62 stations. The system, with grant support, hopes to exceed 100 stations in the next year. The expansion will include the first stations in Shorewood and West Allis, as well as additional stations in Wauwatosa and Milwaukee. Sheperdson notes the system intends to add 26 stations in the city of Milwaukee in 2018.

Bublr, which originally opened in 2014 with 10 stations, operates on B-Cycle bikes and docks from Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycles. Individual rides are $3 for a half hour, but unlimited rides are available for $15/month or $100/year. A Bublr – Milwaukee County Transit System partnership named “Buslr” was unveiled in August.

Cost Breakdown

  • Concrete Pad $8,965
  • Permitting $182
  • Station $32,500
  • Station Shipping $2,500
  • Solar Upgrade $5,000
  • Bikes $9,368
  • Licensing Fee $1,485
  • Total $60,000

Company Brewing Event

Dubbed “Pedal Forward Riverwest,” a launch party will be held at Company Brewing on October 19th at 9 p.m. Beyond locally made beer, the event features a performance by the band Black & Mad and poetry by Kavon Cortez Jones. A $10 cover charge gets supporters into the event. Fifty percent of the event proceeds will go towards supporting the new station.

Company Brewing is located at 735 E. Center St.

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7 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Fundraising Begins for Riverwest Bublr Station”

  1. Tim says:

    Yet, the new station would be on Burleigh & Pierce. Not a bad location but not my first choice.

  2. TGaudynski says:

    The map accompanying this report is quite revealing showing no existing stations or planned stations in the inner city. Bublr is clearly only for some people in the Milwaukee area.

  3. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @TGaudynski – In Bublr’s defense, it doesn’t include the 26 new stations planned for next year and because of funding the far flung stations are confined to other municipalities.

    Also a number of the existing stations are at public housing complexes and the system has a special program for HACM residents to ride affordably.

  4. Tony says:

    I would be interested in seeing what the cost/benefit would be for a station “less” bike share program vs the Bublr setup. Seattle had a station based system and it failed (I was told several reasons why from their requirement for helmets to not enough stations to Seattle being too hilly) so it’s been replaced by companies competing for riders. Bikes are everywhere and you scan them with a phone to ride. Interesting idea but it does tend to leave bikes just about everywhere.

  5. George C says:

    Isn’t bublr a subsidiary of trek? Why would anyone in riverwest give out of their personal wallet to fund a project for which the ultimate goal is to make trek money? also, everyone who bikes in riverwest probably already owns a bike.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @George C. Bublr is a nonprofit. I own a bike, don’t even live in Riverwest, and I intend to kick in a few bucks on payday.

  7. Ralphie says:

    I’m dumbfounded by some of the costs in the breakdown. I’m pretty sure I could find a contractor to do the pad for less than $9k and shipping at $2.5k feels like highway robbery unless it takes an entire semi trailer (doubtful) and is coming from CA. The station is a whopping $3.5k per bike!

    OTOH, the bikes themselves at around $1k each does seem pretty reasonable.

    The article hinted that this $60k includes maintenance, but didn’t say for how long. Has Bublr been able to cover operating costs?

    Don’t take this the wrong way — I think the system is great to have even though I’ll primarily use my own bike here (though I used the similar operation in NYC once) — just felt that the startup costs were high

    And, yes, I chipped in for the project

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