MKEBKE Bike Rack Program

The City of Milwaukee has focused a lot of efforts on other positive bike-friendly projects as of late, and it’s amazing to have their support. We as a bicycle community can take on positive projects of our own and make a change within our community just the same. Focusing on one topic in particular, I think bicycle parking facilities is one of them. We already have many bike racks all around the city, but we can all think or at least one place we commute to regularly that we struggle to find parking shy of a 1/2 block down the street to the nearest stop sign. Having more local businesses be bicycle-friendly and accommodating, not to mention the unfortunate bike thefts we or close friends have all dealt with personally, and having your bike parked close to you is least-to-say comforting.

Did you know you used to be able to request a bike rack(s) for almost anywhere in the city? A while back, Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works received a federal transportation grant and installed over 2,000 bike racks around the city. For example; ever find yourself at the Riverwest Co-op, Polish Falcon, or Cream City Collective (CCC) on Fratney and Clarke in Riverwest? Take a peek at the northwest corner of the intersection in front of the CCC and look at the beautiful row of bike racks. All installed within the last few years.

The number of available racks from the city has dwindling down to three. Literally, three.

I gave Dave Schlabowske, our Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator who oversaw Milwaukee’s whole Bicycle Master Plan, a call earlier today and had a nice, informative conversation with him. Back in the nineties, their original project agreement worked with a grant for over $300,000 and took bids from a number of companies, settling with Madison-based bike rack company Saris for many of their bike racks. When they were flooded with requests is when the city hired out a contractor to respond quicker and get these bike racks in the ground.

As these ran out, I asked where additional funding or support for bike racks in the city will come from, and unfortunately, they currently don’t have any mapped out plans to purchase or install more bike racks right now. Beyond the city’s new ordinance requiring new buildings to install their own bike parking facilities, businesses are always able purchase and install their own bike racks for customer bicycle parking.
With the financial weight of installing bike racks now being on business owners and individuals, MKEBKE plans to coordinate a new Bike Rack Program in the city.

Milwaukee’s past experience with Saris in installing bicycle racks made me curious to contact the company. With one simple phone call, I had a 20 minute conversation with Jeremy from Saris, who personally worked with Dave and is familiar with our bicycle community.

They’re a local company that does all their own manufacturing in bending and welding their wide variety of bicycle racks. They typically stock their racks in black, but they provide eight color choices and ship out to a company in Oconomowoc for painting. He was very encouraging to come check out and take a tour of their facilities.

If you’re a business interested in getting involved, or know of any businesses and establishments you’d like to see install bike racks, please contact us. We’ll share detailed proposals to all interested parties. Support your patrons who support you, the Milwaukee Bicycle Community.

For more information on MKEBKE Bike Rack Program, contact Steve Roche at steveroche@mkebke.com.

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