- Memphis, Tenn. will launch its Explore Bike Share docked bike-sharing program on May 23, according to a press release.
- The program will have 60 stations and 600 bikes available in various city neighborhoods for members, who can borrow the bikes on single-use, weekly, monthly or yearly plans. Users can use the bikes for up to 60 minutes and to ride longer can check into a station each hour or accept an extra $4 charge.
- Explore Bike Share executive director Trey Moore called the program a "dynamic new asset for Memphis" in a statement. The May 23 launch will include a celebration touted as "The Big Roll-Out."
Anticipation has been building for the city’s bike-share program, and ramped up earlier this year as community members "unboxed" the 600-bike fleet in readiness for the spring launch. The idea of a bike-share program was initially floated in 2015, but the city’s feasibility study sat unimplemented due to a lack of funds and was criticized in some quarters for focusing on downtown and its population of moderate- to high- income white people.
"We knew that if bike-share were to come to Memphis and work in Memphis, that it needed to really be authentically of Memphis and that included reaching some of our really great historical neighborhoods that have also been traditionally underserved," community engagement and marketing director Sara Studdard told Smart Cities Dive in an interview earlier this year.
The city appears to be going all-out for the program’s launch, with spokespeople from local businesses making appearances and volunteers set to ride the bikes from the downtown Court Square Center and dock them at each station destination. It represents a major milestone in the wait for the program.
"Our launch date marks a culmination of the Explore Bike Share’s deep relationships and research and core values," Explore Bike Share board member Porsche Stevens said in a statement.
Studdard previously said the city is more suited to a docked bike-share program, due to the city’s current mobile infrastructure and bike culture. But if the program is successful, Memphis could in time follow other cities’ leads and establish a dockless program too. Although any progress on that front may be years in the making as other cities launch such systems but have run into difficulties due to clutter on sidewalks.