Nearly 30 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are generated by the transportation sector. Any serious plan to address climate change must include solutions to these emissions. A 2019 study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy concluded that in evaluating future sustainable transportation scenarios, scenarios that include a robust bicycling component reduce emissions by an additional 11 percent. The study specifically calls out bikeshare as an essential investment if cities are to achieve the levels of cycling necessary to realize the additional 11 percent reduction in carbon emissions. Bublr, as Milwaukee’s nonprofit bikeshare system, has an essential role to play in reducing Milwaukee County’s transportation sector emissions. In addition to the car trips Bublr directly replaces, Bublr also provides connections to public transit, lowers the entry cost to quality bicycles, and acts as a catalyst for other bicycle infrastructure projects.
Bublr trips have reduced CO2 emissions by more than 817 tons since launching in 2014.
Another way that Bublr reduces carbon is via connection to other forms of public transit. For example, a short bikeshare trip could connect a user with MCTS or the Hop such that the full CO2 reduction is much greater than the bikeshare trip alone. Bublr is especially well suited to this task as 80 percent of Bublr stations are co-located with Milwaukee County Transit System stops, 60 percent of Milwaukee’s streetcar stop are co-located with Bublr stations, and there is a Bublr station at Milwaukee’s Intermodal station with connection to regional bus and rail. Bringing e-assist bicycles into the fleet is another way to enhance the additive bikeshare-transit impact. A study by the Micromobility Coalition found that pairing e-bikes with transit gave people access to 35% more jobs without lengthening commute times.
Bublr also provides an extremely low cost of entry to using bicycles as a form of transportation. Although much more affordable than a car, a good bike with necessary accessories will likely cost $800 or more. A good bike would be defined as one that is comfortable to ride on varied urban terrain, is both reliable and durable, and can be ridden in all weather. Bublr bikes meet all these criteria, for much less than $600. Bublr has different membership options designed for affordability and access. Bublr offers an Annual Memberships for $100, with $8 Annual Memberships for UWM students, and Free Access Pass memberships for income qualified riders. This pricing structure removes most of the financial barriers to bicycling.
Finally, Bublr is a catalyst for increased investment in other bicycle infrastructure, which will drive further increases in bicycling for transport. A study done for PeopleforBikes in 2016 showed that 54 percent of adults in the United States see bicycling as a convenient way to get from one place to another, with 51 percent saying they would like to bicycle more. However, in the same study, 53 percent worry about being hit by a car, and 47 percent say they would be more likely to ride a bicycle if bicycle lanes were physically separated from motor vehicles. Many people who are interested but concerned might be unwilling at the moment to buy a bike, but would ride a Bublr in a protected area, for example the trails along much of Milwaukee’s lakefront. Once these folks have more biking experience, they might feel confident enough to ride a bike in other contexts. Alternatively, they might gain the experience to advocate for the infrastructure they need to feel safe.