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.