Jeramey Jannene

Bublr Expansion Includes Smaller Docks

Adding hundreds of new e-bikes and 26 new stations, including more minimal, flexible bike-sharing docks.

By - Aug 1st, 2022 03:46 pm
Bublr Bikes 3.0 dock at Prospect and Mason. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Bublr Bikes 3.0 dock at Prospect and Mason. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Bublr Bikes, Milwaukee’s bike-sharing system, is expanding. Its 2022 plans call for 26 new stations and hundreds of new e-bikes.

With each trip required to start and stop at a physical dock, the new stations are intended to extend the reach of the system and fill in gaps within areas already served.

But 16 of the new stations will look radically different than the sky-blue ones that have dotted the city for nearly a decade. Bublr is installing what it calls “3.0 docks” that do not include the touch-screen kiosk or metal panels connecting each locking mechanism. The lower-profile stations require a user to use the BCycle smartphone application or a membership key fob to unlock a bike.

“The biggest advantage is their flexibility, they are completely self-contained and modular so they can fit in places where the 1.0 stations couldn’t fit,” Bublr executive director James Davies told Urban Milwaukee via email. “They can also go places where there is no good option for electrical connection or solar. They do have a lower upfront cost.”

They’re also locally made, by Menomonee Falls-based Connected Technology Solutions. The BCycle platform on which Bublr is based was started by Wisconsin-based Trek.

Bublr decals will eventually be added to what are currently austere black docks. The first three “3.0 docks” were installed in June at E. Mason St. and N. Prospect Ave., N. 22nd St. and W. Wells St. and S. 37th St. and W. Pierce St. Additional installations can now be spotted across the city.

The number of electronic bicycles deployed throughout the system also continues to grow, with a plan to eventually reach 350. The e-bikes feature a battery that provides additional power when the bike is being pedaled. The system, when powered on, provides automatic support until the bicycle reaches 15 miles per hour.

E-bike usage is outpacing the durability-focused conventional bikes in Bublr’s fleet. “They are ridden almost [eight times] as often as our standard bikes,” said Davies.

Individuals with a Bublr pass, either a 24-hour, 30-day or annual membership, can use an e-bike for no additional charge. Those paying for a single ride will need to pay an additional $1 unlocking fee to use an e-bike in addition to the $0.25 per minute fee.

The new stations, both the traditional larger stations and the 3.0 versions, will fill a gap on the city’s West Side, unifying the network of stations in Milwaukee with those in West Allis and Wauwatosa. In addition, new stations will be added to the south and north. The nonprofit system started the year with approximately 90 stations.

The new stations and most of the new e-bikes are being funded by a $1.9 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant for which the city is providing a 20% match. The Common Council authorized the funds in 2019. Bublr leases the equipment from the city. Wauwatosa is also funding the addition of 75 e-bikes.

Wauwatosa and Milwaukee mayors Dennis McBride and Cavalier Johnson took a symbolic ride between the two cities in April to debut the new e-bikes.

“If you haven’t had a chance to ride them, I encourage you to do it. We just did. You saw us coming and it’s extremely fun,” said Johnson.

Under the system’s structure, much of the equipment is purchased with federal grants, legally owned by the municipalities and operated by Bublr as a cohesive system. In addition to federal grants, the City of Milwaukee has used tax incremental financing districts to purchase specific stations and bicycles for use with the system.

You can learn more about Bublr, its pricing structure and how to ride on its website.


Station Expansion Map, As Of 2020

Categories: Transportation, Weekly

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