MEMPHIS DAILY NEWS | Patrick Lantrip
Getting around in Memphis is about to get a whole lot easier, as Explore Bike Share has announced an agreement with B-Cycle to bring a 600-bike system to the Bluff City.
The system, known as the B-Cycle Dash, is expected to launch in the spring of 2018 and include a fleet of bikes equipped with a forward-facing touch-screen GPS that will offer route recommendations and directions. Once implemented, it will the largest bike-share system of its kind in the U.S.
“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, president and CEO of The Works Inc. and an Explore Bike Share board member. “We are proud to pursue and execute equity-oriented strategies such as bike safety education, ambassador programs, and workforce development partnerships.”
Explore Bike Share, a nonprofit that was established in early 2016 after a yearlong exploration effort by creative communications consulting firm DCA, plans on focusing on the high-density areas of Downtown and Midtown, as well as South Memphis, Orange Mound and Binghampton.
After the initial rollout of 600 bikes, Explore Bike Share will expand with an additional 30 stations and 300 bicycles in 2019, thanks to a $2.2 million grant by Congestion Mitigation Air Quality, a federal improvement program.
In addition to Memphis, B-Cycle currently operates 1,250 bike share stations with more than 10,000 bikes in 43 communities.
The B-Cycle eight-speed bikes will feature a color touch-screen display with onboard GPS, automatic lights and four methods of payment (touch-screen code, smartphone scan, bike share membership card, and RFID cards such as student IDs and employee access badges).
Additionally, riders can choose from three membership options when using one of the bikes: a $15 monthly membership that offers unlimited one-hour rides, a walk-up membership that charges $4 for every 30 minutes, and a $200 per year “pay it forward membership” that donates access to the bike-share program to a Memphian in need.
Explore Bike Share will be able to track a myriad of data through each bike’s onboard computer, including number of rides,“heatmaps” of popular routes/destinations, miles accumulated, the impact on the environment, calories burned, gallons of gas saved, neighborhood participation in community programming, and the demographics of programming participants and bike-share members/users.
“When it comes to recruiting folks who are not from car-driven societies, they need alternative transportation options to move about and around in our community,” Mathews said. “Bike sharing is a major component of infrastructure that we find in other major markets, so I think this is a great moment for our community.”
Mathews added that the number of miles driven in the United States has been dropping, especially in the millennial demographic.
“We are going to need alternative transportation options to recruit and retain them in our communities,” he said. “At least from a talent and recruitment standpoint, this bike share is a big thing.”