August 27 2012
It's a service already functioning in major cities across the nation.
Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, Houston, San Antonio -- to name a few -- have the program in place. Even not-so-major cities like Des Moines and Boulder have the program. And right here in Wisconsin, you'll find the program active in Madison. So why not Milwaukee?
It's a bike share service called B-Cycle. Paying users check-out bicycles from strategically-placed kiosks. They then go on their way, run their errands or go to work, and return the bike to any kiosk in the city.
Barry Mainwood and Bruce Keyes are working to bring the program to Milwaukee, separately from their day jobs. Mainwood owns an audio/video production company and Keyes works as an attorney atop the US Bank building. But even though their passion for pedal power means extra hours, it's an investment, they say, that's worth it.
"We're a thriving, world-class, Midwest city," Mainwood said. "We need bike share here to really compete."
Bike share is designed for making short trips. These are trips which are a bit too long to attempt on foot, but not quite long enough to travel via car. Keyes says the environmental impact would be significant, especially since the first two miles in a car are the least efficient.
"If you look at automobile use, the worst use of a car is for trips under two miles. It's the heaviest wear on the car, and when it first starts up, it puts out the most pollutants," he said.
"If we can get people out of the car for those two mile or less trips and onto a bike, that's got a huge benefit both for their own pocketbooks and for the environment," Keyes added.
Users pay for the bikes by the hour. They may either purchase a yearly membership or buy access for a 24-hour period. But either way, users get the first 30 minutes free. The companion smart phone app shows users where to find a bike kiosk, as well as how many bikes are available and how many spaces are open to return a bike at each kiosk.
Mainwood and Keyes hope to have the program in place by 2013.
"We want this to be a viable transportation alternative and to be here for years to come," Mainwood said.
So what do you think? Would you use bike share? Leave a comment below for take the poll on our Facebook page.
To hear the audio version of this story, click the podcast player below.