This Day in Milwaukee County History: On June 4, 2009, bike racks are installed onto Milwaukee County Transit System buses for the first time.
The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin (BFW) began a formal campaign to see a Bike Racks on Buses implemented in Milwaukee County during Bike to Work Week in 2006. By Septemeber, the following year, the campaign had reached a new height when a resolution authorizing MCTS to apply for funding for the program passed the Transportation, Transit and Public Works Committee. That resolution was later affirmed by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors in a vote of 6-12 during the 2008 January County Board meeting.
The project was nearly derailed that same year when Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker vetoed the resolution only 18 hours before the Board meeting, citing that the program would cost an addition $140,000 more than expected. The BFW worked quickly and, by pressuring wavering supervisors, was able to convince to Board to override the veto by a vote of 16 to 3.
In the end, Milwaukee County paid $20,250 to see that every bus was outfitted with a new rack by September of 2009. The rest of the project was paid through a federal grant that amounted to $384,750.
Usage rates have increased dramatically since the initial months when the racks were first installed. In 2012 alone, it was estimated that over 140,000 passengers made use of them on their daily commute to and from work. As a show of thanks for the success of the program, MCTS allowed all bike-riders free bus fare on Friday, October 5th, 2012.
Just for fun, here’s a short video released by MCTS in 2009 featuring instructions on how to use the newly installed bike racks: