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Bublr Shares Bikes in Milwaukee

Off the Cuff with Kevin Hardman

Oct. 1, 2014
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Kevin Hardman is launch director for Midwest BikeShare, Inc., the Milwaukee-based nonprofit developing and operating Bublr Bikes. The program already has 10 stations, 60 bicycles and more than 1,000 trips logged—after opening only in August. The Cincinnati native “married into Milwaukee,” and took on the Bublr challenge as the only staffer in July 2013. He previously ran Wisconsin Bike Fed. and worked urban real estate development. He sat down with Off the Cuff to discuss famous frugality, beloved wheels and sacrosanct trails.


You’re a bicyclist yourself?

I am. My best ride—in one day—was 120 miles along Lake Erie in northern Ohio. I consider the Hank Aaron State Trail through the VA property sacred ground.


What does a bubbler have in common with a bicycle? Refreshing? Visit two to three times daily for health? Breathe through your nose?

Yes to all of the above. We carefully chose the name. We wanted it to be fun, friendly and appealing. It’s a wink to Milwaukee’s past: a name that could only happen here.


The blue bicycles are already a sight around town—at MSOE, Red Arrow Park, the intermodal station, Public Market and more—what’s up with all the blue?

Water, vitality and vibrancy. Eye-catching. One of a kind.


How does it work?

Couldn’t be easier. Purchase a monthly or annual pass and you’ll receive a key fob. A day pass is $7, available at any station. Pick a bike, wave the fob and go! You get unlimited rides under 30 minutes. Just check in and check out, to avoid the usage fee.


Milwaukeeans are notoriously frugal. Why pay $7, when the bus is $3, and walking is free?

Why wait for busses? Skip circling for parking, and plugging meters. Bicycles save time. Use is unlimited. A monthly pass is $20. That’s a deal Milwaukee will love.


How many cities have similar programs?

Nearly 750, around the world. We’re following the lead of peer cities like Minneapolis, Denver and Madison. Chicago has one of the country’s largest.


How will Bublr be uniquely Milwaukee? Real bubblers at stations, dispensing Fixed Gear beer?

The city herself will make it unique—beautiful lakefront, renowned cultural institutions, fabulous neighborhoods, trail network—we’ll make it our own.


Can bicycles compete in America’s big-motorcycle mecca?

Folks in Milwaukee love their two wheels, however powered.



We plan to shut down from mid-December through March.


The future. Next year? Five years? Beyond?

At least 30 more stations next year—ideally 35—with 300 more bicycles. Our first big goal is 100 stations—in Milwaukee, West Allis, Shorewood and Wauwatosa. We will grow to adjoining communities from there—and ultimately, hopefully, create one of the world’s great networks, right here in Milwaukee.


For information on passes, donations, volunteering and station locations, visit bublrbikes.com or email info@bublrbikes.com.


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