Buses, bikes, and forgetfulness

Since 2009, all Milwaukee County Transit System buses feature front-mounted bicycle racks. Users simply fold them down, secure their bikes, and, often, forget they're there. Carl A. Swanson photo

Milwaukee County Transit System buses feature front-mounted bicycle racks. Users simply fold them down, secure their bikes, and, quite often, forget they put them there. Carl A. Swanson photo

In 2009, all Milwaukee County Transit System buses received front-mounted bike racks. The racks are extremely popular – more than 100,000 bikes are carried each year. Although it hardly seems possible, it’s quite common for a bus to return to its depot at the end of the day with a forgotten bike on its rack. Last year about 120 bikes were lost, an average of one every three days.

Most are reunited with owners. Strangely, some never call to retrieve their bicycles. What happens to those?

Milwaukee's Island of Lost Toys is this locked cage in the bus system's Fleet Maintenance Facility. Carl A. Swanson photo

Milwaukee’s Island of Lost Toys is this locked cage in the bus system’s Fleet Maintenance Facility. Carl A. Swanson photo

The bus system stores lost bicycles in a locked cage in the system’s Fleet Maintenance Center, 1525 W. Vine St. By policy, the transit system must hold forgotten bikes for at least 14 days. In practice, bicycles often remain in storage much longer, but every few months the storage area needs to be cleared to make room for new arrivals. The unclaimed bikes, 30 to 40 per year, are donated to a local non-profit.

If you’ve forgotten your bike, call the system’s lost and found at (414) 937-3206 and give the route, location, date and time you lost your bike, as well as a description. It would be useful to have the serial number handy. Don’t be shy – the bus system really, really wants to reunite you with your lost property.Carl_sig

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7 comments

    1. I know I saw a lot of kid bikes, so part of it might be “Junior, didn’t you say you were taking your bike to the lakefront today?”

      Junior “…”

      But there were also a handful of really nice adult rides in there. What’s up with that?

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  1. Regarding: “Buses, bikes, and forgetfulness”: Many of those bikes in the photo look like youth bikes. I suspect that many of those “forgotten bikes” could be bikes that were stolen for convenient transportation then left on the bus to get rid of a “hot” item when the culprit reached his destination. Calling the bus barn might be another important number to put on the list of places to search when a family discovers their child’s bike missing from their porch, yard or the playground. It is also a reason for parents to remind their child to lock their bike no matter whether they are at home or on an errand….even for a few minutes.

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  2. This makes me remember how good mass-trans is in Milwaukee for a city this size! I had to move to Indianapolis for work, a city that ‘claims’ to be about 250,000 people larger than Milwaukee, but has virtually no mass-trans (as well as no consumer protection laws, no safe affordable apartments, no efficiency apartments, etc., etc.). They’ve got about 3 bus lines that run ‘frequently’ (which may mean an hour between buses), and the bus lines do NOT reach most of the city. It’s a joke! There’s a long story here about the lack of a civic ethos in places like Indianapolis; but suffice it to say, you people need to do whatever it takes to hold on to what you have there, and not let people like Scott Walker cut taxes to the point where you lose your metropolitan-ism! There’s no reason anybody need to move to Indianapolis…

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