About Milwaukee

  • WalkScore    59
  • TransitScore  49
  • League of American Bicyclists' Rating:  Bronze

Maps

Bike Map  (pdf)

Transit Map (pdf)

Bike Share Map, Bublr Bikes

Like many places in the American Midwest, Milwaukee began as a trading post. One Mr. Solomon Juneau set up a settlement right along Lake Michigan, and a fascinatingly crooked land surveyor from Connecticut named Byron Kilbourn set up Kilbourntown just west of him on the west side of the Milwaukee River, effectively cutting Juneautown off from the mainland. Kilbourn was determined to keep his town more ifnluential than his perceived rival, so he distributed maps of the area that showed Juneautown as uninhabited, and even went so far as to make sure his streets did not line up with those of Juneautown across the river, so it would be much more difficult to build bridges between them. That's dedication. Eventually it culminated in an armed skirmish called the Bridge War, and the state decided to formally unify the area into Milwaukee, with Mr Juneau as mayor. Kilbourn licked his wounds, founded a few more small towns, got fired from a sweet railroad company gig for fraud, and even got busted for using railroad bonds as bribes to state officials for land grants! Newly unified and peaceful, Milwaukee promptly got down to business, and that business was mostly the production of fizzy yellow beer, overseen by recent immigrants from Germany and Poland. By 1900, over 1/3 of the city was of German descent, and their influence persists today. Unlike many other "rust belt" cities, Milwaukee began preserving its historic neighborhoods in the 1980's, which prevented the drastic population decreases seen in other downtowns around the midwest. Downtown Milwaukee today is vibrant, clean, and teeming with small local businesses. The lakefront area is mostly developed as park land, with bike paths carrying you past scenic Bradford Beach, the gorgeous Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Marcus Amphitheater, the home of the Summerfest music festival. Milwaukee is friendly and gorgeous.

City Guide

Milwaukee-Art-Museum

Etiquette

Milwaukee bike etiquette is typical "midwestern laid back," similar to Madison and Minneapolis. There's a good mix of experienced commuters, students, and people trying to get some exercise. From what we've seen, there's usually not enough bike traffic for your hand signals to matter as much as they would in parts of Chicago or NYC. It's still a good idea to signal (and technically state law, but we suspect the police don't even realize it), and not to shoal at red lights, but don't stress about it.

Safety

Front white lights and red rear reflectors are required at night (as usual in the US), and helmets are actually not mandatory in the state for anyone, regardless of age, though they remain a pretty spectacularly good idea for kids. Bells don't seem to be required, but are (as always) a very smart idea.

Security

Bike theft is about what you'd expect for a city of over 500,000: present, but not a plague. Milwaukee tends to have more space and fewer stairs to climb than places like Chicago and NYC, however, so depending on where you're staying, you've usually got pretty good odds of being able to bring the bike inside. Don't leave it in view of the street at night, and bring / rent a high-quality lock.

milwaukee culture

...is nicer and more laid back than Chicago, with less density and bike traffic. We saw very little hustle, urgency, or haste in most riders. There's a strong culture of riding for relaxation here, with thousands of people setting out on weekends to enjoy the lakefront area, often on fat-tired cruiser bikes. It's very easy to get along here.

Routes

Bikes

Fyxation is a frame maker and bike shop based in a great neighborhood, River West.

Fyxation is a frame maker and bike shop based in a great neighborhood, River West.

bike share

Bublr bike share (map) - $3 for 30 minutes for sturdy city bike with generator lights and a front basket for your bag

Rentals

Coast in Bikes - $45+ daily for adult, cargo, tandem, kids, seat or trail-a-bike

Tours

Hop Head Beer Tours - $55+ per person for tours of iconic brewery sights or craft beverage tastings

shops

Fyxation - River West based frame maker and bike shop with great brands

SPINLISTER

Spinlister is like the Airbnb of bikes!  Use promo code, BIKABOUT, for $10 off

Places

Colectivo Coffee has multiple locations across Milwaukee and all of them are very bike friendly.

Colectivo Coffee has multiple locations across Milwaukee and all of them are very bike friendly.

We're constantly updating this list of our favorite bike shops, coffee shops, restaurants, museums, scenic vistas, playgrounds, ice cream, microbreweries and more in Milwaukee.

Foursquare List - this app is better for on-the-go exploring.

Pinterest Board

Lodging

Metro Hotel in downtown Milwaukee provides complimentary cruiser bikes for guests.

Metro Hotel in downtown Milwaukee provides complimentary cruiser bikes for guests.

HOTELS

Hotels that provide complimentary bikes and other bike amenities

 

AIRBNBS IN Milwaukee

Get $25 off your stay by clicking here.

Transportation

City Transit

Milwaukee County Transit System, MCTS (Map) - 100% of buses equipped with bike racks. "All Milwaukee County Transit System buses are now equipped with bike racks which are simple to use. "

Train

Milwaukee Intermodal Station

Empire Builder (Chicago - Milwaukee - St. Paul/Minneapolis - Spokane - Portland/Seattle) - requires bikes to be boxed (boxes are $15) and pay $10 to check as luggage.

bus

Badger Bus - $10 cash for one way storage of fully assembled bikes underneath. Travels to Madison.

Cars

Airline


Support Local Advocates

Bikabout donates 25% of annual revenue to local advocates. You, too, can power better biking in Milwaukee and Wisconsin by becoming a member of any of the Wisconsin Bike Fed!