The Lane Ahead

Trey Moore comes home to direct the launch of Explore Bike Share

By Don Wade

His first vision, Trey Moore says, was to become a “film and video type guy.” He had graduated Southaven High School, earned a communications degree at Memphis State, but didn’t have designs on going all-Hollywood.

Trey Moore, director of Explore Bike Share. The nonprofit is promoting a cycling culture in Memphis by installing stations throughout the city where residents can rent and return bikes. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)

Yet he was still fascinated by using a camera to build a narrative.

“I don’t know what I had ambitions for,” said Moore, who was recently hired as Explore Bike Share’s executive director. “But it was a cool medium. I think I wanted to be Ken Burns before we knew who Ken Burns was.”

But Moore, 53, did not become a documentary filmmaker. Although he never planned for it, he followed in his father’s footsteps and went to work for the Boy Scouts when he was 25 and married with two young sons (he now has four children).

“Back in our day we weren’t looking to change the world through social and nonprofit means,” Moore said. “At some point, I just needed a job.”

The job blossomed into a nonprofit career.

Explore Bike Share is, well, a different spoke in the nonprofit wheel. But looking back, Moore believes all the other positions were good preparation and even fit with his first goal of being a documentary filmmaker.

“What it did was help me learn to tell a story,” he said. “And that’s been an important skill working in nonprofits, to learn to tell a story to stakeholders and constituents, something that’s compelling and drives people to action.”

When he started with the Boy Scouts his first territory was in Crittenden County, Arkansas. He was working with politicians, school officials and pastors, learning how to make connections with people at the forefront of shaping their communities.

After 11 years with the Boy Scouts, he was the first and only employee for a nonprofit startup: the Memphis Youth Performing Arts Association. That fit with his music background; he played drums in Memphis in the Mighty Sound of the South band.

“No longer in existence,” he said of the startup that made it five years. “We gave it a good shot.”

From there he joined the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for another five-year stint. Then the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for two years, then five years running the chapter in Atlanta.

Career-wise, it was a good move.

“But we didn’t necessarily connect with Atlanta,” Moore said. “And the commute was horrible.”

A recreational bike rider, he stumbled across Explore Bike Share on social media and started keeping tabs. When he learned they were seeking an executive director in Memphis, he reached out.

Now that he’s here and on board, he’s leading a team aiming at a spring launch and eventually a total of 600 bicycles at 60 stations inside the city’s Interstate-240 loop.

“We have an internal date we’re working against, but we’re giving ourselves a little latitude in not publicizing that,” Moore said.

“This project opens the door for connectivity throughout Downtown – from our Tennessee Brewery front door to a Grizzlies home game – and with the larger city of Memphis,” said Benjamin Orgel, a capital contributor to Explore Bike Share along with his father, Billy Orgel, and business partners Adam Slovis and Tom Marsh.

Benjamin Orgel believes it is “crucial” that Memphis support additional transportation options however possible.

Bike share programs exist all over the country with varying degrees of success. Atlanta has one, but Moore says he never used it because there were no service areas near his home and office.

While Moore points to cities such as New York and Washington, D.C., as places where bike share programs are robust, those cities are ideally suited to bike sharing; there is volume to their need for alternative transportation means.

Other cities are trying to figure out to make a bike sharing program attractive to residents who probably will continue to use their cars for daily commutes, while also learning how to engage with parts of the community that could immediately benefit from regular and affordable access to bicycles.

A challenge to make it work here?

“It will be,” Moore said. “And in sort of a sadistic kind of way, that’s an attractive part of this position for me.

“What’s going to be necessary is a lot of community education. Grassroots. In the neighborhoods. Talking and explaining to the residents, business owners, students, how they can benefit. It’s getting comfortable, taking that initial ride. Anyone who hasn’t taken the subway before is a little apprehensive the first time they do it. But then once you’ve done it and kind of know how the system works, then it becomes easy and a no-brainer.

“I don’t want to be the Segway of transportation where people assume it’s for people visiting the city,” Moore said. “Because it’s not. That’s a byproduct of visitors seeing Memphians using it.

“Even for those of us who may not get on bikes, we will take pride in our bike lanes being utilized more. I’m hopeful the entire city will see it as an amenity for all of us.”