Bublr Bikes aims to expand access to bike share

Milwaukee bike share service Bublr Bikes recently announced plans to provide more access to its bikes, particularly in low-income neighborhoods.

Bublr plans to add 20 new stations, including six in and around the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus, and about 200 new bikes to its system in 2015, and further expand to more than 100 stations and more than 1,000 bikes in the next few years. Bublr currently has 11 stations, 10 of which are in downtown Milwaukee.

Bublr, which was launched last year and allows riders to rent bikes from its stations by the day, month or season, is owned and operated by nonprofit Midwest Bike Share Inc. MBS recently released an independent report that showed it could increase availability to all Milwaukeeans by putting bike stations in low-income areas and taking several other steps.

MBS has already taken some actions, including: adding a single-ride price that is the lowest of any bike share company nationwide; partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs to offer a youth training and employment program; and expanding instructions and website content to include Spanish language. The report also suggested Bublr create a community outreach program; work with low-income neighborhood (LIN) residents and stakeholders to place stations, determine pricing and promote the service; create subsidized or discounted passes; provide a non-card payment option for passes; offer in-person or phone membership registration; put maintenance buildings in LINs or commit to hiring LIN residents.

It costs MBS about $50,000 to install a new bike station and about $75,000 to $100,000 to operate it over five years.

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