MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE—Explore Bike Share, a nonprofit which launched a 60-station, 600-bike bike share system in Memphis this spring, is celebrating its first month of serving the Memphis community through engagement with a new, affordable form of public transportation.
The system launched on May 23 with The Big Roll-Out, a public celebratory event which engaged hundreds of volunteers to distribute the bike share bikes by riding in teams to stations within the service area.
“We launched Explore Bike Share after years of research and preparation including being on the ground talking to Memphians about their hopes, their needs, and how civic programs can serve them best,” said Trey Moore, Executive Director of Explore Bike Share. “Our 501(c)3’s mission to improve the health, culture, transportation and tourism of our community relies on the quantitative and the qualitative. It’s about feeding over 80 residents in South City with bike knowledge and barbecue plates, it’s employees whose personal economies are impacted by a new ride to work, and it’s about the new public art programs that Explore Bike Share will both fund and help foster.”
Explore Bike Share has formed strong partnerships with community organizations such as JUICE Orange Mound, Revolutions Bicycle CoOp, Knowledge Quest, The CLTV, and The Carpenter Art Garden by funding their community engagement programming in the service area as a pathway to ensuring bike share meets the needs and wants of each neighborhood, is accessible and affordable and authentic to the communities’ culture and Memphis as a whole.
"We’re establishing relationships and financially investing in them because they’re the fabric of Explore Bike Share’s model,” said Sara Studdard, Community Engagement and Marketing Director of Explore Bike Share. “Through these partnerships, Memphians all over have helped us create something our communities can rally around, because it offers people new, accessible options that were previously unavailable. These partnerships are our keystones, as Explore Bike Share’s success depends upon the greater community’s success.”
Britney Thornton, founder of JUICE Orange Mound, the homegrown funding source of the Orange Mound community, has organized two Explore Bike Share weekend events in Orange Mound with more planned this summer and fall.
“Explore Bike Share’s commitment to my community shows that they value providing not only resources but also equity and access,” said Thornton. “Many Orange Mound residents had never before considered bicycles beyond being a means of transportation. Now, together, with this new tool and infrastructure, we are able to strengthen our community by leveraging bikes to engage and mobilize current residents. We are eager to build a solid bike culture that transforms our previously disengaged community to a high-functioning, knowledgeable, and connected neighborhood in the city.”
Kevin Woods, Memphis Market President of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, believes this community engagement focus, coupled with the health benefits of biking, will ultimately uplift Memphis in ways beyond transportation.
“Explore Bike Share is a tremendous opportunity for the mobility and wellness of Memphians because it offers a fun, practical, and affordable way to get around,” said Kevin Woods, Memphis Market President for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “We hope our neighbors will use this exciting resource to get active and engaged with one another in not only physical fitness, but also exploration of our great city.”
As of the morning of June 20, 2018 approximately 2,950 Memphis residents and visitors have collectively burned over 1,095,967 calories, taking 6,423 rides covering 26,078 miles’ distance between Explore Bike Share’s 60 stations spanning from Downtown, West Memphis, South Memphis, and Cooper Young to Orange Mound, Overton Square, and Crosstown.
“Adoption has happened much faster than expected, and we believe it’s a byproduct of over two years of research and community groundwork,” Moore added.
Increased bike traffic in city commercial centers has translated into increased traffic into local businesses.
Memphis Made Brewing, for example, has a long history of supporting bicycle culture in the city, leading to its earning a silver bike friendly business designation from The League of American Cyclists. When Explore Bike Share approached co-owners Andy Ashby and Drew Barton about installing a docking station near the brewery's tap room entrance, they jumped at the chance.
“We’ve been early adopters in the biking community and are excited to see so many people riding down Cooper Street," Ashby said. "People use the bikes at our station all the time to ride around our neighborhood or to get to Overton Square. We're happy to see people taking advantage of this amenity."
“We have a docking station right in front of our entrance, and people are always coming and going,” said Andy Ashby, co-founder and Vice President of Memphis Made Brewing Co. “We’ve been early adopters in the biking community and are excited to see so many riding down Cooper to take in surroundings, see inside our taproom when rolling by, and dock bikes to come in and have a beer on a whim. Many places in Cooper-Young, and Overton Square too, now have that opportunity.”
Explore Bike Share has already reached over 50% of its annualized membership projection in month one of operation with 544 number of monthly and annual members.
“Of course we feel the numbers are important, but as a 501(c)3 with a mission of encouraging Memphians to engage with their communities and communities outside of their own, it’s about the people first and foremost,” Trey Moore said. “Our community partnerships, a dedicated staff, and the amazingly patient and supportive bike share users from Memphis and beyond have exceeded our expectations. I feel a great optimism for Explore Bike Share’s future.”
STATS AT A GLANCE:
As of June 20, 2018
Total number of monthly and annual members: 544
Total number of users: 2,950
Total number of bike trips: 6,423
Total distance: 27,503 miles
Estimated total carbon offset: 26,078
Estimated total calories burned: 1,095,967
Top ridership by station:
· Overton Park
· Big River Crossing (East)
· Beale Street Landing
· Court Square
· Crosstown Concourse
· Memphis Park
· Loflin Yard
· Front & Beale
· Hudson Transit Center
· South Main & Talbot
ABOUT EXPLORE BIKE SHARE. Explore Bike Share is a Memphis 501(c)3 that has implemented a robust bike share system and transportation tool to advance the city on multiple fronts—including but not limited to transportation, tourism, health, environment, and culture—with access to as many Memphians as possible. Initially launched with a 600-bike system in May 2018, the system will expand to 900 bikes by 2019. For more information, visit explorebikeshare.com.