Some places come and go, while some places become icons. Mandatory Milwaukee is all about the latter. Join us as we revisit beloved and well-worn local staples with fresh eyes, and explore how they might figure in the city’s future. This week: Bublr Bikes!

Like so many good and sensible things, I initially resisted Bublr Bikes. I can’t remember why (“Why would anyone rent a chunky blue bike when they could buy a really nice one for $1,000?” I probably thought), but new things scared me back when the nonprofit launched in 2014. Uber?! Streetcars?! A convenient, affordable, and sustainable homegrown bike-sharing program?! Strangely, as I get older, I find myself more welcoming to new ideas. I’m the Benjamin Button of the “get off my lawn” crowd.

So what is Bublr? Well, it’s Milwaukee’s convenient, affordable, and sustainable homegrown bike-sharing program. You find a Bublr docking station near you, swipe your credit/debit card into a kiosk, unlock and rent a chunky blue bike by-the-minute ($.25 per minute, to be exact) or for 24 hours ($24), and tool around the city. When you’re done, you find another Bublr station (it doesn’t have to be the first one you used), lock your chunky blue bike back into the thing, and you’re done. Thirty-day and annual passes are also available. It’s simple. It’s great. Like so many good and sensible things, it just works.

Also, the seats are pretty comfy, most of the bikes come with baskets and built-in chain locks, and they even have bells!

Bublr launched in 2014 with just 10 stations in Downtown Milwaukee. As of 2021, it has expanded to 81 stations scattered throughout Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, and West Allis. Twenty-six more will be added this year. Here’s a glance at the map:

So what finally turned me on to Bublr? Well, I started using it. Even though I own a bike, I often find myself wandering around aimlessly but looking to cut my aimless-wandering time in half. Hey, there’s a Bublr station. Why not grab a bike, ride it home, and leave it a few blocks from my house? During the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020, I used Bublr bikes constantly to find or catch up with marches. Just this past weekend, with my real bike at my office, I took a Bublr from my house to Back Bay Park, then Bullseye Records, then the Oak Leaf Trail, then Riverside Park, then back to my house again. My kid was along for the adventure and she rode her Frozen two-wheeler which has a little plastic seat in the back. Also, I was pretty stoked that I found the Logan’s Run soundtrack at Bullseye.

So that’s it. That’s the article. Bublr Bikes are the best. Wear a helmet. Don’t ride on the sidewalk. Get out there, Milwaukee, and use the things the city has to offer. Here’s the scene from Logan’s Run where Logan and Jessica met Box. Did you know that the actor inside Box was Roscoe Lee Browne, from Barney Miller and Soap? Huh!

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