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."