West Allis tentatively pedals toward BikeShare program

Even with $400,000 grant, city would have to fund its share somehow

March 17, 2014

West Allis — If funding can be secured, a BikeShare program could be in West Allis' future.

A $400,000 federal grant would help the city set up the nine bike stations, with 90 bikes envisioned, if West Allis also can come with $100,000. At least some of the local dollars might be raised through donations and sponsorships, officials said.

The Common Council decided last week to apply for the grant while exploring how fundraising might be handled and how the program would work.

A BikeShare program is being set up in Milwaukee, while Wauwatosa and Shorewood are actively pursuing programs there. Under similar programs, stations complete with bicycles would be available to riders, who would pay a certain amount per ride and drop off the bikes at stations near where they want to go.

It's aimed at providing an alternative to driving when destinations are just a little too far to walk but are an easy bike ride.

For example, separate stations are envisioned for Summit Place/MATC on 70th Street and at the Renaissance Center, 601 S. 60th St., so that people could go to the West Allis Farmers Market at lunch, said Development Director John Stibal.

Other stations are envisioned for places that are densely populated or where people want to visit to shop or eat.

Stations are proposed for the Farmers Market/Six Points, City Hall/downtown, 76th Street at the Wisconsin State Fair/Pettit Center, the hotel redevelopment area on 84th Street at about Greenfield Avenue, the Honey Creek Park-Historical Society on 84th Street, Aurora West Allis Memorial Hospital, and the junction of two bicycle routes through the city at 92nd and Lapham streets.

All nine stations would be on or near city bicycle routes or county or state bicycle trails.

The nonprofit group Midwest BikeShare would operate the sites. Kevin Hardman, launch director for Midwest BikeShare, said by the end of the year nearly 40 cities would have BikeShare programs. Chicago has one and Madison started one in 2011, he said.

The idea started in Minneapolis that began with 60 stations in 2010 and has more than 100 now, he said.

The council hasn't committed to such a program quite yet. Money is an important consideration.

"It's an interesting concept, but I'd like to know more about the financials," Alderman Michael May said.

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