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VOL. 133 | NO. 63 | Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Explore Bike Share Reveals Station Locations

By Don Wade

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The launch of Explore Bike Share is getting closer with the nonprofit revealing Wednesday, March 28, the locations of the stations for the 600-bike system.

Explore Bike Share’s 60 stations span from Downtown, South Memphis and Cooper-Young to Orange Mound, Overton Square and Crosstown. The stations and bikes are being funded through a combination of donations from foundations and individuals, plus a $2.2 million federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant, said Explore Bike Share executive director Trey Moore.

Locations have been determined based on multiple criteria, including solar power accessibility, density and proximity to other transit options, plus neighborhood usage and ongoing community engagement efforts. Moore says Explore Bike Share had no issues with placing stations on either public or private land and were not assessed a fee.

View the complete list of Explore Bike Share locations here. (Explore Bike Share)

About 40 percent of Memphians, the vast majority of them within the Explore Bike Share service area, do not have access to a personal car, said Sara Studdard, EBS community engagement and marketing director. That research helped drive the community conversations.

“Explore Bike Share doesn’t solve all the (transportation) problems,” Studdard said, but she added that it can provide another pathway for someone living in one neighborhood in the service area to reach a job in another part of the service area.

The locations were determined following ongoing neighborhood conversations, as well as a digital effort in late 2017 to capture pins on an interactive map of Memphis. The latter resulted in more than 3,500 “pins” submitted by citizens for potential station locations.

Moore says from the start EBS was committed to the idea that the system be “affordable, available and sustainable.” Flexibility is a key component, too. The system allows for the shifting of stations within neighborhoods as usage data is accumulated.

“We know the system will move and breathe,” Studdard said.

The system is the first and largest of its kind in the nation, as Explore Bike Share’s manufacturing partner BCycle was selected by a community board of advisers in Memphis to launch the biggest Dash system yet, fueled by solar power with forward-facing touch screens and using technology to capture data related to miles ridden, calories burned and popular routes. The new technology allows for malleability both physically and geographically.

The bikes themselves were built to accommodate riders of all sizes and skill levels.

“The seat’s adjustable to any height of rider,” Moore said. “They’re eight speeds, so pedaling is no problem. You don’t have to have a lot of experience. They’re easy to maneuver.”

Another first is Explore Bike Share’s two stations in West Memphis, Arkansas, which makes Explore Bike Share the first two-state Dash system in the country.

Explore Bike Share plans to roll out its 600-bike system this spring. (Explore Bike Share)

Jim Jackson, executive director of the West Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, says being part of this startup was just logical.

“We’ve felt the impact of bike traffic into West Memphis due to the connectivity of Big River Crossing,” he said. “So we knew we needed to invest in this bike share system.”

Advance Memphis was involved in unloading the bikes upon arrival and one employee was even hired to be a bike technician. EBS will have a team of technicians to keep the bikes rolling and the system up and working.

“It will be a large daily challenge for us,” Moore said.

The EBS operating budget of $1.3 million annually, Moore says, is based on the “conservative assumption” of 100,000 unique trips during the first year. The trips will be taken by a projected 1,200 members and additional single-ride and short-term users. The service capacity, he says, also takes into account an estimated 11 million visitors to Memphis each year.

Single rides will cost $5. Weekly memberships run $12; monthly memberships, $15; and annual memberships, $120. Weekly, monthly and annual memberships offer users unlimited 60-minute rides from one station to another. If more than 60 minutes pass before the user docks their bike at a station, overtime usage fees will apply. More details on usage and more creative membership options, including bike sponsorship, can be found at explorebikeshare.com.

“We’ve said from day one that every Memphian deserves access to quality transportation options,” said Roshun Austin, an Explore Bike Share board member and executive director of The Works CDC in South Memphis. “We’re all paying it forward with Explore Bike Share, whether through a ‘Give Your Neighbor a Lift’ donation, a new bike programming series around town, or simply advocacy for our organization.”

Explore Bike Share, Studdard reminds, started three years ago as a community conversation that would both play a part in addressing the city’s transportation needs, but also in increasing community connectivity and offering a new health and wellness option.

Studdard now refers to Explore Bike Share as a “call to action for the consumer to see the city and explore Memphis via bike share.”

New branding developed by DCA reflects the changes. Along with a new logo, the initiative's website has adopted the tagline "It's just like riding a bike."

System sponsors’ brands will impact Explore Bike Share’s bike baskets, payment kiosks, and other physical and digital elements based on level of investment.

“While bike share is an incredible marketing tool recognized by leading national companies, it’s new to Memphis,” Moore said.

Although a specific launch date has not been determined, Moore said EBS definitely will launch this spring. By 2019 or 2019, EBS aims to have grown to 900 bikes across an expanded 90-station system that will include the Shelby Farms Park Greenline, more of North Memphis, the Highland Strip, and the main and south campuses at the University of Memphis.

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