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You and your bike can ride the bus for $2.

Put your bike on the bus

This past summer, all Milwaukee County Transit System buses were equipped with bike racks. Each rack holds two bikes and is located on the front of the bus.

This is great news for Mike Schmidt, an engineer who lives in Riverwest and works Downtown.

"I always took the bus to work, but then came home, changed and went out on my bike," says Schmidt. "Now, I can change at work and go riding right after work. It's great to already be Downtown, with my bike."

Use of the bike racks are included in the cost of bus fare. For a person 12 or older, the fare is $2. Children 6-11 are $1 and anyone under 6 is free, but must be accompanied by someone at least 12. Adult 10-packs are available for $16.50.

The bike rack installation process started on June 4, 2009, and 470 racks were installed during the course of the summer. The cost to install the bikes was $650,000, most of which was paid for by a federal grant.

The racks are common in many cities in the United States such as Chicago and Minnepolis. Twelve other cities in Wisconsin have bike racks on buses, including Sheboygan, Green Bay and Madison.

Riders who use the racks need to remember a few safety tips, most importantly to tell the driver they are loading or unloading a bike from the rack. The driver may not be able to see the biker mount or dismount his or her bike -- for some drivers the front of the bus has blind spots -- so it is crucial that there's communication.

Before putting a bike on a bus rack, remove any items attached to the bike, such as water bottles, pouches, bike locks, etc. It's not possible to lock the bike to the rack, but the front wheel and frame can be locked together.

And like all property on the bus, the Milwaukee County Transit System does not assume liability for damage or injury occurred to bikes, personal property or riders.

Because the racks accommodate only two bikes at a time, they are first-come, first-serve, and bikes are not permitted inside the bus if the rack is full. The racks support bikes that have at least a 16-inch wheel frame, and cannot accommodate tandem bikes, three-wheeled bikes or recumbent bikes.

Using the rack is easy. Squeeze the release handle (this is an obvious feature) and lower the rack. Then, lift the bike onto the rack and fit the wheels into the slots. Then, to claim the bike, lower the handle, take the bike and raise the rack.

The Milwaukee County Transit System suggests a variety of destinations for bike riders that are accessible via the bus, such as Grant Park (Route 15), Hank Aaron State Trail (Route 80), Greenfield Park (Routes 18, 53), Brown Deer Park (Route 12), Underwood Creek Parkway (Route 10), Hoyt Park (Routes 21, 31), Crystal Ridge (Route 76) and Lake Shore Park (Routes 12, 14 23 and 31.)

"It's another green effort in Milwaukee," says Schmidt. "And it's more convenient than I thought it would be."

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Talkbacks

SocratesChildren | Sept. 21, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. (report)

Hey, Molly, one more thing. Don't forget to lift the brace under one of the wheels so your wheel is gripped by the bike rack. Also, video available on www.ridemcts.com

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Broner | Sept. 21, 2009 at 4:09 p.m. (report)

YesIBike, I hope you're being sarcastic but I'm not picking it up enough so I'm going to assume you're being serious. Are all-night drinking and drug benders part of your typical "healthy and sustainable life style"? What kind of db uses the health aspects of bike riding to argue a point right after writing about a night of completely unhealthy behavior? And guess what genius? I'm a former endurance athlete who knows a thing or two about mental toughness. Plus, I have a bike and ride it. I just don't think we need to bolt bike racks on the front of city buses to help people get around.

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bstuartmke | Sept. 21, 2009 at 3:21 p.m. (report)

I've used the bike rack on the bus to get home safely when I had to get home after dark , entend my range of cycling in a day, and to get my bike to the shop when I suspected something wrong.

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milw_wayne | Sept. 21, 2009 at 2:56 p.m. (report)

As someone without a car, I find the bicycle racks extremely useful. People who are concerned about theft can chain their wheels to the bicycle's frame before loading it onto the rack. This should deter theft.

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YesIBike | Sept. 21, 2009 at 2:45 p.m. (report)

The bike racks on the buses are great. I decided to give up cars years ago and I think that this new addition to the buses will help out many people that have made the same choice as I have. Granted, I hate the bus, it takes a long time to get any where and there are usually strange people on it, but it is nice to have the option. Under normal circumstances I would just ride wherever I had to go, but this past weekend I actually need to use the racks and it was a godsend. I was up all night drinking and doing drugs and the prospect of a 10 mile ride was very daunting. I managed to catch up to a bus on the way home and was able to take the bus about half way to my destination. Oh, and to the people that are condescending and hateful to the people and programs that encourage cycling as a healthy and sustainable life style; you people are just too weak to get on a bike and try it yourself. Rain, snow, heat, wind, everyday. There is something to be said about a person that can endure that everyday and ask for more, hell, make it worse while we're at it. Mental toughness, oh and hey, girls dig my bike muscles.

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