Bike Share Program Will Connect South Memphis, Orange Mound & Binghampton With Core City

KIM AND JIM COLEMAN | HIGH GROUND NEWS

Explore Bike Share is finally putting the rubber to the road. 

After several years of development, the nonprofit has finalized that in spring 2018 it will implement a 600-bike network of rental bikes across Memphis.

The short-term bike rental network is designed to suit tourists and residents and especially connect Memphis' neighborhoods, such as South Memphis and Orange Mound and Binghampton, with the denser urban core.

We are exploring beyond Downtown neighborhoods and from the start, going into neighborhoods you wouldn’t traditionally see a bike-share start in,” said Roshun Austin, president and CEO of The Works, Inc., as well as an Explore Bike Share board member.

The bikes, manufactured by B-Cycle, will be spread across 60 rental stations. The network connects Memphis' neighborhoods with transportation that is accessible and on-demand.

A quick look at the city map shows this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. South Memphis easily links up with Downtown. Orange Mound is in proximity with the Cooper-Young area of Midtown. Likewise with Binghampton, which is a short pedal from Overton Park.

“It was a natural next step because these neighborhoods make up the inner ring suburbs in our proximity to Midtown and Downtown and are too close to ignore as we are talking about equity neighborhoods,” said Austin.

An equitable connector for Memphis' neighborhoods

Explore Bike Share, a nonprofit supported by public-private partnerships, already plans on further expansions. Some areas fit into the grid more naturally than others.

Unfortunately, parts of North Memphis don’t, but Explore Bike Share has made the neighborhood a priority nonetheless. In North Memphis, Interstate-240 acts as a barrier to bike travel, and it’s a logistical issue the Explore Bike Share team plans to work on.

An early version of Explore Bike Share's proposed service area includes high-density areas of Downtown and Midtown as well as the neighborhoods of South Memphis, Orange Mound and Binghampton.

Explore Bike Share’s program tries to emphasize the needs of the neighborhoods it serves and not just population density zones on a map.

In the fall of 2015, a group of neighborhood representatives including Austin participated in a bike study tour in the Netherlands. A focus of the trip was uncovering how European bike share is an equitable connector. Part of the itinerary involved speaking with immigrants in their neighborhoods.

“If you were to compare them, they look like low-wealth neighborhoods in the U.S. So, we wanted to see in a cycling culture like the Netherlands how they (immigrants) were to successfully integrate into the cycling culture in neighborhoods where this was very nontraditional,” said Austin.

Prior to the Amsterdam trip, Austin had never cycled. She had a month to learn to ride well enough to hold her own in one of the busiest bike cities in the world.

“I was a native Memphian who grew up in a low-wealth neighborhood in North Memphis. I didn’t have access to a bike. I just never learned,” said Austin.

It was from this experience that Austin saw the potential of cycling in low-wealth neighborhoods in Memphis as a way of connecting the economically-vulnerable to a low-cost transportation option.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey, five to seven percent of Memphis households don’t own a car. Public transit was used by two to four percent of Memphis households while another three to four percent walked or biked to work.

The numbers go up when you take a look at low-wealth neighborhoods. Transportation links for low-income residents are vital to success on the job. A reliable mode of transportation can only enhance opportunities for people.

“I work in a neighborhood where 40 percent of the residents don’t own an automobile but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to go anywhere,” said Austin.

“So you get a heavy pedestrian use of the street and public transit, where 2.5 miles may take you over an hour. A bike can change that trip.”

A four-mile commute can be detrimental to holding a job. A trip to the grocery store two miles away can mean an hour on the bus.

“If I wanted to go to the grocery store and pick up a few things on a bike, we are talking a few minutes,” said Austin.

Modes of transportation provide options. Instead of a short walk to a convenience store, a person can take a quick bike ride to the local grocer. Instead of chips and soda they have the choice of healthier and cheaper options.

In low-wealth neighborhoods, there are generally health disparities. The health benefits of cycling are well documented.

Broadening the mental map of Memphis

Riding bikes also gets more engaged in the neighborhood around them.

Explore Bike Share coordinates group neighborhood rides where dozens of people travel together. 

A recent April 22 ride started at the historic 1890 house at the Works, Inc. Riders stopped and learned the story of the historic residence. They cruised over to the South Memphis Farmers Market and the Knowledge Quest farm, then on to the Slim House and Soulsville.

BCycle Dash Smart Bike offers a forward-facing display, with a touchscreen GPS for route recommendations and directions.

“Another benefit is you get to see Memphis in a different way," said Austin. "You get to see all of these assets in these neighborhoods that you may not see by car. It also builds pride."

The program aims to strike a balance between the needs of residents and tourists while trying to be accessible to all income levels. Cash and credit payment options will be available. There will also be some coordination between station location and public transit routes.

Three membership options will be available including a walk-up membership of $4 for every 30 minutes; a $15 monthly membership with unlimited one-hour rides and a $200 annual “pay it forward membership” to donate a ride to a Memphian in need.

“Some of us may not feel $15 per month is a lot but it can mean so much to a low-income person’s budget,” said Austin.

There will be opportunities in the future for group/corporate share memberships. Employers can opt to subsidize the cost of an employee’s bike share membership. This encourages health and wellness.

The road to bike share

The B-Cycle Dash system enters the Memphis market as the largest bike share system of its kind in the nation. Its Smart Bike includes a forward-facing, touchscreen GPS for route recommendations and directions.

They operate 1,250 bike share stations and over 10,000 bikes in 43 communities.

Memphis' Explore Bike Share was established in early 2016.  The group followed a year-long exploration effort by local bike advocates led by Kyle Wagenschutz. He is the first bikeway and pedestrian program manager for City of Memphis.

There was concern about the feasibility of a bike share program in Memphis, not to mention its equitability.

To determine broad interest, community meetings were held in neighborhood hubs such as St. Andrew AME Church and the South Memphis Farmers Market.

Explore Bike Share has illustrated a unity of community partners, private donors, as well as support from the City of Memphis.

“Explore Bike Share is an exemplary model of public-private partnership,” stated Mayor Jim Strickland. “I am 100 percent behind the vision of Explore Bike Share and its mission to provide an affordable, accessible, equitable option for our citizens to experience and enjoy Memphis’ public spaces.”

Explore Bike Share’s next steps will be to pursue a comprehensive implementation. That includes building a fully-staffed nonprofit operation with an executive director, customer service representatives and technicians. Still to come is final site selection and community engagement efforts, additional scholarships and closing a $1 million fundraising gap.

Additionally, Memphis' bike share network's expansion has been awarded a $2.2 million Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  This includes $1.8 million in federal funds, along with a local match of $455.000. The grant will enable a 2019 expansion of an additional 30 stations and 300 bicycles to Explore Bike Share’s initial footprint.

"Bike Share will expand access to new and improving infrastructure assets like Shelby Farms Park Conservancy’s Heart of the Park and Greenline, Big River Crossing, Wolf River Greenway, the Hampline, and the Great Streets Project for more Memphians,” said Mac Bruce, program associate for livable communities at Hyde Family Foundations.

"This network of safe, affordable, and accessible bicycles will unlock new transportation experiences in neighborhoods across the city. We invest in these projects because they support our vision of a vibrant, livable community where people are proud to live, work and play."

Memphis Communities To Get Bike Sharing Program

DANIEL RUBIO | WREG NEWS CHANNEL 3

Explore bike share and b-cycle will bring a 600-bike share program to various neighborhoods throughout Memphis by next spring. The program will service high density areas of downtown and midtown, as well as South Memphis, Orange Mound and Binghampton.

Explore Bike Share board member and orange mound activist Dwayne Jones is excited about the health opportunities the program will bring to members of the Orange Mound community, allowing them to cycle to farmer's markets or grocers with healthier food options.

"I was excited when they put the bike lanes down. I went to a community meeting, I've been an advocate for cycling in this community for a while" said Jones.

The b-cycle dash system bikes feature a forward-facing, turn-by-turn touchscreen GPS and will enter Memphis as the largest bike share system of its kind.

"From the beginning, we wanted to be sure we were connecting all the neighborhoods in the city," says Dawn Vinson of Explore Bike Share.

There will be various payment options for the ride share program including monthly memberships and pre-paid cards.

Bike Share Program Coming to Memphis in 2018, With Fleet of 600 Bikes

ELLE PERRY | MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL

Memphis' first bike share program is set to launch with 600 bikes by Spring 2018.

Local nonprofit Explore Bike Share announced its contract agreement with B-Cycle, which operates 1,250 bike share stations and more than 10,000 bikes in 43 communities nationwide.

In Memphis, Explore Bike Share proposed a service area of Downtown, Midtown, South Memphis, Orange Mound and Binghampton. The organization has a mission "to enter equitably and resourcefully for all Memphians and tourists — whether for transportation, health or cultural leisure."

Explore Bike Share was awarded a $2.2 million expansion grant by Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ), a federal improvement program that will allow for a 2019 expansion of an additional 30 stations and 300 bicycles to the group's initial footprint.

Monthly membership will cost $15 a month for unlimited one-hour rides, and walk-up memberships will cost $4 for every 30 minutes. There will also be pay-it-forward memberships for $200 a year and packages for groups and corporations.

The organization was formally established in early 2016 after a yearlong exploration effort by Memphis-based creative communications firm DCA. According to DCA, the launch "will illustrate a powerful unity of community partners, private donors, City of Memphis support and founding members from Memphis’ 20+ ZIP codes, established over the past two years."

“Explore Bike Share is an exemplary model of public-private partnership,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, said in a statement. “I am 100 percent behind the vision of Explore Bike Share and its mission to provide an affordable, accessible, equitable option for our citizens to experience and enjoy Memphis’ public spaces. Bike share will not only expand transportation options and health benefits for our residents, but it will also expand connections and perspectives between our neighborhoods.”

Upon submitting a purchase order with B-Cycle, the organization will pursue a plan to build fully staffed nonprofit operation, lead site selection and community engagement efforts, look into additional sponsorships and close the current capital funding gap of less than $1 million.

The organization will plan bike routes based on topics such as music, food access, exercise and heritage.

Its initial, 2015 community input sessions locations, including the South Memphis Farmers Market to BRIDGES and the National Civil Rights Museum, will be revisited this summer for open neighborhood bike share Q&A sessions and future site selection planning.

Biking has picked up steam in Memphis. Travel service site RewardExpert's June 7 Best Destinations to Bike list named Memphis its top "up and coming" city because of the upcoming bike-share program and expanded bike lanes.

Freewheel, the free slow ride bicycle program of Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC) and Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), capped off its second season with 265 participants representing 44 ZIP codes. Participants cumulatively covered 1,530 total miles through eight neighborhoods.

Freewheel launched in 2016 with goals to increase awareness of the district and surrounding neighborhoods. Participants brought their own bikes or signed up to borrow from the Medical District fleet, which was originally restored last fall by the Carpenter Street Bike Shop’s team of trained neighborhood bike mechanics.

Memphis Bike Share System Planned for Spring 2018 Launch

BICYCLE RETAILER

A 600-bike bike share system is planned for Memphis, where Explore Bike Share, a local non-profit, has announced its contract agreement with B-Cycle.

The Memphis system will be the largest in the country using B-Cycle's Dash system. Among other features, Dash bikes include a forward-facing, turn-by-turn touchscreen GPS for route recommendations and directions.

"We couldn't be more excited to officially partner with Memphis to offer a truly revolutionary type of bike share system," said Bob Burns, president of B-Cycle, which currently operates 1,250 bike share stations and over 10,000 bikes in 43 communities.

Explore Bike Share's mission is to establish a system that serves locals and tourists equitably, whether for transportation, health or cultural leisure. The group has proposed a service area to reach high-density areas of Downtown and Midtown, as well as South Memphis, Orange Mound and Binghampton.

"From its inception, Explore Bike Share has vowed to prioritize neighborhood needs, utilizing the system to serve all of Memphis — not just where the city sees density on a map," said Roshun Austin, an Explore Bike Share board member. "We are proud to pursue and execute equity-oriented strategies such as bike safety education, ambassador programs, and workforce development partnerships."

Memphis mayor Jim Strickland said, "Explore Bike Share is an exemplary model of public-private partnership. I am 100 percent behind the vision of Explore Bike Share and its mission to provide an affordable, accessible, equitable option for our citizens to experience and enjoy Memphis' public spaces. Bike share will not only expand transportation options and health benefits for our residents, but it will also expand connections and perspectives between our neighborhoods."

Organizations to Bring New Bike Share Program to Memphis

ERYN TAYLOR | WREG NEWS CHANNEL 3

A local organization is hoping to implement a new bike share system to the city of Memphis.

On Friday, Explore Bike Share announced they have partnered with B-Cycle and plan to bring 600 bikes to the Mid-South, creating the largest bike share system of its kind in the nation.

B-Cycle currently operates 1,250 bike share stations and over 10,000 bikes in 43 communities.

The service will be available across the city of Memphis.

“From its inception, Explore Bike Share has vowed to prioritize neighborhood needs, utilizing the system to serve all of Memphis—not just where the city sees density on a map,” said Roshun Austin, Explore Bike Share board member and President/CEO of The Works, Inc.

The bike share program will also provide transportation to those who need it.

“I am 100% behind the vision of Explore Bike Share and its mission to provide an affordable, accessible, equitable option for our citizens to experience and enjoy Memphis’ public spaces. Bike share will not only expand transportation options and health benefits for our residents, but it will also expand connections and perspectives between our neighborhoods,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

The sites for bike stations has not been finalized yet.

Leaders said they also have to close the current capital funding gap before moving forward.

 

The 9:01: Bike Share

CHRIS HERRINGTON | THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

Let Them Ride Bikes: If the Overton Gateway project does go forward, here’s betting they’ll have a bike share station nearby. Explore Bike Share, the Memphis effort at the kind of public bicycle sharing program becoming increasingly common around the country (I saw some bike share stations in Birmingham while traveling a couple of weeks ago), cleared a major hurdle. The program today announced a partnership with vendor B-Cycle to launch a 600-bike fleet in Memphis next spring. Wayne Risher has more info here.

Reps from Explore Bike Share were test-driving an earlier B-Cycle model during recent Freewheel Slow Rides. The model that will be deployed in Memphis, the B-Cycle Dash Smart Bike, is equipped with touch-screen GPS display for route recommendations and turn-by-turn directions. The program will initially be focused in the Downtown/Midtown area, including Orange Mound, Binghamton and South Memphis.

One realization I had from participating in the Freewheel Rides is how manageably connected the core city is. The sense is that Memphis is too spread out, but within the core everything is close enough for easy biking. The bigger hurdle is safer connections alongside car-oriented streets. But that infrastructure is improving all the time. The hope for Explore Bike Share might be in arriving at a tipping point when more cyclists and potential cyclists see city biking -- as opposed to greenline biking --  as viable.

Explore Bike Share Announces Launch of 600-bike System in Memphis

LOCAL MEMPHIS

A new bike share system will soon roll into Memphis.

Explore Bike Share, a local nonprofit with a mission to develop and implement a robust and inclusive bike share system in Memphis, has announced its contract agreement with B-Cycle to bring a 600-bike system to the bluff city by Spring 2018.

The B-Cycle Dash system is the cutting edge of new bike share technology and accessibility, and the largest bike share system of its kind in the nation. Among other features, Dash bikes include a forward-facing, turn-by-turn touch screen GPS for route recommendations and easy-to-follow directions.

B-Cycle currently operates 1250 bike share stations and over 10,000 bikes in 43 communities.

In line with its mission to enter equitably and resourcefully for all Memphians and tourists, whether for transportation, health or cultural leisure, Explore Bike Share has proposed a full-scale service area to reach high-density areas of Downtown and Midtown, as well as South Memphis, Orange Mound and Binghampton.

“From its inception, Explore Bike Share has vowed to prioritize neighborhood needs, utilizing the system to serve all of Memphis, not just where the city sees density on a map,” said Roshun Austin, Explore Bike Share board member and President/CEO of The Works, Inc.. “We are proud to pursue and execute equity-oriented strategies such as bike safety education, ambassador programs, and workforce development partnerships.” 

Explore Bike share will create routes for tourists and residents that highlight community assets, such as:  

  • MUSIC ROUTE takes riders on a bike tour through music-focused museums and spaces while also pointing out relevant public art, historical landmarks, and other points of interest.
  • FOOD ACCESS ROUTE takes riders along a path to access a farmers market, grocery store, and other errands.
  • EXERCISE ROUTE highlights loops and paths with guidance on how many miles traveled and calories burned, and provide other suggestions on how to add to riders' workout.
  • HERITAGE TRAIL highlights a collection of historically significant, Memphis specific, African-American stories that have shaped local and regional culture.

Explore Bike Share will provide several membership options.

Monthly Membership:

$15 a month, unlimited one-hour rides.

Walk-Up Membership:

$4 for every 30 minutes.  Pay for only the trips you take, for the less frequent riders and tourists.

Pay It Forward Membership:

$200 per year.  Donate the benefits of bike share to a Memphian in need.

Group/Corporate Membership:

Provide increased access and an amenity for your organization’s or corporation’s employees.

Packages are flexible and available for organizations of any size.

Explore Bike Share will hold Q&A sessions this summer.

Memphis Bike Share Announces Spring 2018 Launch

CHOOSE901

Today Explore Bike Share has announced its contract agreement with B-Cycle to bring a 600-bike system to Memphis by Spring 2018.

Explore Bike Share launched in 2015 seeking to get community input and gather information on the possibility of creating a bike share program in Memphis. Now that program, after hearing from many throughout Memphis from various neighborhoods is announcing its progression from idea to reality. It will operate as a 501(c)3 nonprofit and plans further expansion in 2019. This news comes as Memphis continues to be recognized as an up-and-coming city to explore by bike.

As a part of the launch, the new BCycle Dash smart bikes will have cutting edge technology built in. That technology will allow riders to follow easy instructions powered by a touch screen GPS system. The fleet in Memphis will be the largest in the nation upon its launch.

“Unlike any other bike share system, the community is truly coming together to make this a reality,” said Suzanne Carlson, Explore Bike Share Vice Chair and Innovate Memphis’ Transportation and Mobility Project Manager. “We encourage all sectors to step up to support Explore Bike Share’s sustainable and robust launch.”

The BCycle Dash smart bikes include the following features:

  • A color touchscreen display
  • Integrated locking package and onboard GPS with turn-by-turn directions
  • Best-in-class geometry and bike build
  • Four methods of access/payment
  • Touch screen code
  • Smart phone scan
  • Bike share membership card
  • RFID cards (i.e. student ID cards, employee access badges)
  • 8 speeds
  • Automatic lights

Explore Bike Share will introduce the industry’s first and largest BCycle Dash system, with 60 stations and 600 bikes (and a 30-station and 300-bike expansion in 2019). You can expect to learn more this summer when Explore Bike Share will host a number of opportunities for community members to engage with the program in Q & A sessions. More specific details to come.

Explore Bike Share’s system addresses the needs of ridership in low-income neighborhoods, using best practices and research. This includes:

  • Strategically placed station siting
  • Accessibility to public transit
  • Cash payment methods to provide riders with flexible and convenient payment

Explore Bike share will seek partnerships with businesses and organizations that value bike share as a tool to further their missions and connect with target audiences. Current partnerships include:

  • Carpenter Art Garden – group rides, workforce development, bike education and safety
  • City of Memphis, Bike/Ped Program Manager – bike education and safety, infrastructure, siting process
  • Community LIFT – civic investment, siting
  • The Works, CDC – workforce development, bike education, healthy food access
  • Livable Memphis – urban planning, placemaking, bike education and programming
  • Innovate Memphis – transportation and shared mobility
  • Mid-South Greenprint – fitness access, environmental advocacy
  • Memphis Medical Center – health advocacy, group rides, siting
  • Revolutions Bicycle Co-op – family group rides, bike education and safety
  • Downtown Memphis Commission – siting process and community engagement
  • Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau – siting process

Explore Bike Share will also curate routes for tourists and Memphians to highlight community assets. Some of these routes include:

  • A music route: to take riders on a bike tour through music-focused museums and spaces while also pointing out relevant public art, historical landmarks, and other points of interest.
  • A food access route to take riders along a path to access a farmers market, grocery store, and other errands.
  • An exercise route to highlight loops and paths with guidance on how many miles traveled and calories burned, and provide other suggestions on how to add to riders’ workout.
  • A heritage trail to highlight a collection of historically significant, Memphis-specific African-American stories that have shaped local and regional culture.

Memphis to Launch Bike Sharing System

MAYA SMITH | MEMPHIS FLYER

A bike-share system is coming to Memphis by spring 2018, as today non-profit Explore Bike Share, announced its partnership with the B-Cycle Dash System.

Currently operating 1,250 bike share stations with over 10,000 bikes across close to 50 communities, the B-Cycle Dash System will bring 600 bikes, equipped with high-tech amenities, like GPS systems with route recommendations and turn-by-turn directions, to the city early next year.

Explore Bike Share, whose mission is to provide an inclusive and accessible bike sharing system, is proposing that the 60 bike share stations coming to the city service high-demand areas like Midtown and Downtown, as well as Binghampton, Uptown, South Memphis, and Orange Mound. 

"From its inception, Explore Bike Share has vowed to prioritize neighborhood needs, utilizing the system to serve all of Memphis— not just where the city sees density on a map," Explore Bike Share board member Roshun Austin said. "We are proud to execute equity-oriented strategies such as bike safety education, ambassador programs, and workforce development partnerships."

By 2019, Explore Bike Share plans to have even more shareable bikes, as Congestion Mitigation Air Quality awarded the group a $2.2 million expansion grant, which will allow for an added 300 bikes at 30 additional stations. 

In the meantime, Explore Bike Share will revisit the community's suggested placement of bike stations near the South Memphis Farmer's Market, BRIDGES, and the National Civil Rights Museum at open meetings in the coming weeks.

 

Explore Bike Share making headway to launch system by next spring

WAYNE RISHER | COMMERCIAL APPEAL

A Memphis bicycle sharing program is on track to launch a 600-bike, short-term rental network by next spring.

Explore Bike Share says it will feature the largest fleet of a new model, the B-Cycle Dash Smart Bike. It’s equipped with touch-screen GPS display for route recommendations and turn-by-turn directions.

The two-year-old nonprofit is already planning to grow in 2019, adding 300 bikes and 30 stations with a $2.2 million federal expansion grant.

Explore Bike Share reported Friday it’s within $1 million of a fund-raising goal and continuing to move toward implementation with vendor B-Cycle. 

Memphis is in line to get B-Cycle's latest technology and largest, most robust type of system to date, president Bob Burns said. The company operates 1,250 bike share stations and more than 10,000 bikes in 43 communities.

Ride sharing for all is group's goal

The initial network will have 60 stations across Downtown, Midtown, South Memphis, Orange Mound and Binghamton, with the highest concentration in Downtown and Midtown.

It will strike a balance among residents and tourists and people of different income levels, officials say. It will offer cash payment options, along with credit card, and coordinate some station locations with public transit routes.

“From its inception, Explore Bike Share has vowed to prioritize neighborhood needs, utilizing the system to serve all of Memphis—not just where the city sees density on a map,” said Roshun Austin, a board member and president of The Works, Inc., a community development organization in South Memphis.

“We are proud to pursue and execute equity-oriented strategies such as bike safety education, ambassador programs, and workforce development partnerships," Austin said.

Officials tout ride-sharing benefits

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said, “I am 100 percent behind the vision of Explore Bike Share and its mission to provide an affordable, accessible, equitable option for our citizens to experience and enjoy Memphis’ public spaces.

"Bike share will not only expand transportation options and health benefits for our residents, but it will also expand connections and perspectives between our neighborhood,” Strickland said.

The expansion grant is from the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program.

Suzanne Carlson, Explore Bike Share vice chair and Innovate Memphis’ Transportation and Mobility Project manager, said bike sharing is an economic driver, along with access to transit and pedestrian and bike infrastructure.

“Being awarded this financial opportunity is a clear sign of Memphis’ move forward,” Carlson said.

Basic rate is $4 for half hour

Bike share users can rent a bike at one station and return it to any other station.

Membership options include $4 for 30 minutes, a walkup membership; $15 a month for unlimited one-hour rides; a Pay It Forward membership, $200 a year, to donate the use of a bike to someone in need; and group/corporate memberships.

The group on Friday announced a contract agreement with B-Cycle.

A news release said, "Upon submitting a purchase order with B-Cycle, Explore Bike Share will pursue a comprehensive implementation plan to build a fully-staffed nonprofit operation, lead site selection and community engagement efforts, further pursue sponsorships, and close the current capital funding gap of less than $1 million."

 

Explore Bike Share Announces Launch of 600-Bike System

MEMPHIS, TN—Explore Bike Share, a local 501(c)3 with a mission to develop and implement a robust and inclusive bike share system in Memphis, is proud to announce its contract agreement with B-Cycle to bring a 600-bike system to Memphis by Spring 2018.

The B-Cycle Dash system, which represents the cutting edge of new bike share technology and accessibility, will enter Memphis as the largest bike share system of its kind in the nation. Among other features, Dash bikes include a forward-facing, turn-by-turn touchscreen GPS for seamless route recommendations and easy-to-follow directions.

“We couldn’t be more excited to officially partner with Memphis to offer a truly revolutionary type of bike share system,” said Bob Burns, President of B-Cycle, which currently operates 1250 bike share stations and over 10,000 bikes in 43 communities. “Explore Bike Share’s mission is empowering to our work, and we’re proud to share the latest technology and largest, most robust type of system to date—the B-Cycle Dash Smart Bike—with the Memphis community."                    

In line with its mission to enter equitably and resourcefully for all Memphians and tourists—whether for transportation, health or cultural leisure—Explore Bike Share has proposed a full-scale service area to reach high-density areas of Downtown and Midtown, as well as South Memphis, Orange Mound and Binghampton.

“From its inception, Explore Bike Share has vowed to prioritize neighborhood needs, utilizing the system to serve all of Memphis—not just where the city sees density on a map,” said Roshun Austin, Explore Bike Share board member and President/CEO of The Works, Inc.. “We are proud to pursue and execute equity-oriented strategies such as bike safety education, ambassador programs, and workforce development partnerships.” 

Explore Bike Share was formally established in early 2016 with an initial board of directors after a year-long exploration effort by DCA, a creative communications consulting firm. Explore Bike Share’s official launch will illustrate a powerful unity of community partners, private donors, City of Memphis support, and founding members from Memphis’ 20+ zip codes established over the last two years. 

“Explore Bike Share is an exemplary model of public-private partnership,” said Mayor Jim Strickland, Mayor of the City of Memphis. “I am 100% behind the vision of Explore Bike Share and its mission to provide an affordable, accessible, equitable option for our citizens to experience and enjoy Memphis’ public spaces. Bike share will not only expand transportation options and health benefits for our residents, but it will also expand connections and perspectives between our neighborhoods.” 

Upon submitting a purchase order with B-Cycle, Explore Bike Share will pursue a comprehensive implementation plan to build a fully-staffed nonprofit operation, lead site selection and community engagement efforts, further pursue sponsorships, and close the current capital funding gap of less than $1 million. 

“Unlike any other bike share system, the community is truly coming together to make this a reality,” said Suzanne Carlson, Explore Bike Share Vice Chair and Innovate Memphis’ Transportation and Mobility Project Manager. “We encourage all sectors to step up to support Explore Bike Share’s sustainable and robust launch.” 

In addition, Explore Bike Share has been awarded a $2.2 million expansion grant by Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ), a federal improvement program. The CMAQ grant will enable a 2019 expansion of an additional 30 stations and 300 bicycles to Explore Bike Share’s initial footprint.

“One of Memphis’ big opportunities for innovation is transportation,” continued Carlson. “Increased accessibility to transit, pedestrian and bike infrastructure is a critical part of Memphis’ economic growth and overall success, and bike share is an integral piece of that. Being awarded this financial opportunity is a clear sign of Memphis’ move forward.” 

Explore Bike Share’s initial 2015 community input session locations, from the South Memphis Farmers Market to BRIDGES and the National Civil Rights Museum, will be revisited this summer for open neighborhood bike share Q&A sessions and future site selection planning. Event details will be shared in the coming weeks. 

To receive updates and milestone announcements, subscribe at explorebikeshare.com.

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ABOUT BIKE SHARE. Bike share is an innovative transportation program, ideal for short distance point-to-point trips providing users the ability to pick up a bicycle at any self-serve bike-station and return it to any other bike station located within the system's service area. Today, a total of 4,800 bike share stations operate in 119 U.S. cities.

ABOUT EXPLORE BIKE SHARE. Explore Bike Share is a Memphis 501(c)3 with a mission to create and implement a transportation tool to advance the city on multiple fronts—including but not limited to transportation, tourism, health, environment, and culture—through the development and operation of a bike sharing program with access to as many Memphians as possible. Initially launching with a 600-bike system by Spring 2018, the system will expand to 900 bikes by 2019. For more information, visit explorebikeshare.com.

Memphis Bike Share will be Private, Nonprofit, and Community-led

By Stefani Cox, Better Bike Share Blog 

The bike share model in Memphis is a new one for the United States: It’s driven by an advertising firm and a cadre of multi-sector stakeholders, rather than the government itself.

When local companies, organizations, and community-members in Memphis found out that getting a publicly-driven bike share system would be a no-go, they didn’t give up. In fact, they decided to take matters into their own hands. The result of the collaboration is Explore Bike Share, which is setting up for its big launch later this year with 60 stations and 600 bikes.

Asking big questions first

The idea of bike share in Memphis was first studied in an Alta Planning + Design publication, which emphasized the potential health and environmental benefits of bike share. The company Doug Carpenter + Associates (DCA) became interested in the project and received funding from a local foundation to gather local stakeholders together to discuss the possibilities.

What was unique about the initial study by DCA was that they didn’t go into the yearlong process with any assumptions. In fact, they were open to discovering that bike share might not be the best new transportation option for the 60 percent African-American city.

The team held nine neighborhood community gatherings, where they learned a lot about what various community members were looking for. “The discussion often turned from bike share to general conversation about what transportation looked like in Memphis,” says Sara Studdard, project manager for Explore at DCA. “We look to the leaders in their own communities to shape how that process works.”

Convening the advisory group

After many conversations and lots of additional research into bike share models in other cities, the group decided to move forward with bike share in a 501(c)3, or nonprofit, form. The process is guided by an advisory group of 20-40 people from sectors such as health, culture, and transportation, and from several different regions of the city.

“We consider ourselves conveners in the area of South Memphis,” says Roshun Austin, executive director of The Works, a community development center (CDC) in South Memphis. Roshun serves on the 501(c)3’s nine-member Board of Directors and was also a member of the advisory group.

“We did a neighborhood plan about eight years ago,” says Austin. “Some unique recommendations came out of that. Better pedestrian streets and walkways were desired.”

Austin says that conversations and priorities around equity and station siting in low-income communities of color happened quite naturally because of the population of Memphis. “We won’t do it unless we start with neighborhoods that are not traditionally where you start. We want to start where we’re driving it from the needs of neighbors.”

Building on the foundations

Together the advisory group selected BCycle as the vendor for the bike share system in late 2015. In lieu of city funding, the contracts are being financially driven by foundations and private partnerships.

Studdard emphasized that the service area will include not only Downtown and Midtown, but also four neighborhoods that have health disparities and transportation issues around the “last mile”: Uptown, Binghampton, Orange Mound, and South Memphis.

While the hiring has not yet happened for the executive director and staff of Explore, Studdard says that planning parties are committed to hiring policies that prioritize minority or women-owned businesses. “We want the staff and board to be reflective of Memphis,” she says.

The Memphis team is also interested in pursuing equity-oriented strategies that they’ve seen in other cities, such as bike safety education, ambassador programs, and partnerships with workforce development activities.

Learning while doing

The process has been full of great learning opportunities so far, participants said.

“Equity is not about a specific program but about how a 501(c)3 is managed,” says Studdard. “Community engagement is hard and difficult. It doesn’t happen overnight. We’re patient, and we want to listen and be challenged.”

They are committed to doing a full launch, rather than a smaller pilot program, which they say makes them unique among Southern cities. They’re also conscious of the need to make the system accessible for low-income residents.

“Cash payment will be a mandatory part of our system,” Studdard said. “We want to make as many access points as possible.” She says the collaboration is interested in using the PayNearMe system that other bike share systems access to handle cash payments. But that decision, like others, will be made by the group.

“I feel very grateful that there are national leaders that have led the way,” says Studdard. “We have had seven years to learn from what’s already out there, what’s already been done.”

The Memphis collaboration is still working on the station siting process, which will be an announcement to look for in the coming months, and could be highly important in addressing equity concerns.