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To mark what is thought to be the first adoption of an adaptive bike-sharing program in Wisconsin, the city of Wauwatosa held a ribbon-cutting ceremony dedication June 21 in Hart Park.

"This is another example of making Tosa a destination city," Alderman John Dubinski said. 

The adaptive bike station is designed to be inclusive of riders with disabilities, although not exclusively for special needs individuals. Mayor Kathy Ehley, Dubinski and representatives from the Citizens with Disabilities Committee were present to launch the program.

Zagster is the company that agreed to rent the bike station to the city on a one-year trial basis. The options for riders include two tricycles, a side-by-side "date bike" and a hand cycle. The bikes are available for hourly or daily rentals via the Zagster app or by text message.

Dubinski was the alderman most involved in bringing the bikes to Tosa, but he was quick to point out that Deb Falk-Palec, chair of the Milwaukee County Commission for Persons with Disabilities, played a key role and did the bulk of the research.

"You know how this all started? It was a small article in my favorite paper to read each morning about public funds to buy bikes in Milwaukee and raising the question of what about bikes for people with disabilities in a publicly funded program," Falk-Palec said. "It was then that the quest to get to what happened on Wednesday began."

With the Bublr bike station that debuted in the city last fall plus the Zagster adaptive bikes, it's believed Wauwatosa is the first city in the U.S. to employ a two-vendor system.

Dubinski is a parent of a special needs child and was proud to be a part of bringing the program to Tosa.

"I am looking forward to this program being a success," Dubinski said. "We are planning to add other locations in the future."

Falk-Palec began working on bringing the adaptive bikes to Tosa in July 2015 and did an extensive amount of national research on the subject in order to pull people together to advance the conversation.

She said the bike systems are bringing national attention to the city after speaking with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Office of Civil Rights.

"The Milwaukee County Commission for Persons with Disabilities was mentioned on a national webinar about the ADA and Alternate Forms of Transportation," Falk-Palec said.

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