Janine Twitchell is new to Memphis, but as an avid cyclist, she was happy to be part of the team from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center that took part in the inaugural bike ride today to kick off Explore Bike Share, the city’s new bike share program.
“I love Memphis,” the administrative assistant in hematology/oncology at UTHSC said, after she finished the morning ride. “I love the active community here.”
The Explore Bike Share program rolled onto the UTHSC campus as part “The Big Roll-Out” launch. The bike rental program aims to enhance the growing bike culture in the city, support the health of Memphians, and aid transportation and access to neighborhoods in the city. Supporters and teams from various organizations, including approximately 10 riders from UTHSC and partner entities, joined the kick-off ride.
UTHSC is a “founding funder” for Explore Bike Share, helping to provide funding for the purchase of equipment to set up the program, which has approximately 600 cruisers suitable for all skill levels. They can be rented on demand per ride, per day, or per month, or per year at any of 60 stations, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in downtown Memphis and the surrounding area.
UTHSC has two docking stations for bikes — one in front of the Madison Plaza at 920 Madison with docks for 11 bikes, and a larger one at the intersection of Madison and Manassas in front of the Student-Alumni Center with docks for 15 bikes.
“UTHSC has been very supportive,” said Trey Moore, executive director of Explore Bike Share. The program’s network of bikes for rent serves downtown, including the Memphis Medical District; Midtown; Orange Mound; and South Memphis (the South Parkway area). A map on the Explore Bike Share app and on the program’s website shows the service area, all docking stations, and the number of bikes docked at each station at any time.
Each ride is 60 minutes and costs $5. Each additional 60 minutes is $5. Renters go to a station and check out a bike, and return it to that pick-up station or another station with space available. A time clock on each bike keeps track of the ride time.
Because the university is a founding funder, students and employees get a discounted rate. The student rate is $10 a month for unlimited 60-minute rides. The employee rate is $12 monthly for unlimited 60-minute rides. To redeem the discount, UTHSC employees and students must use their UTHSC email address and the promo code UTHSC Employee or UTHSC Student (case sensitive). Go to explorebikeshare.com, select ‘Membership,’ then scroll down to select ‘Monthly,’ enter the promo code, and pay with credit or debit card information and UTHSC email address. For questions, call (901) 590-2127.
The launch began at the program’s warehouse at 61 Keel at 8:30 a.m. Participants rode to Court Square for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and then on to respective docking stations in the service area.
Brandon Wellford, CFO of Memphis Bioworks, was part of the team that finished at the UTHSC dock at Madison and Manassas. “I just thought it would be fun and a good chance to get out and see parts of Memphis we drive by and never really pay attention to,” Wellford said. “I’ll use it again.”
UTHSC’s Suzanne Fenech, fitness and wellness coordinator in the Department of Campus Recreation, said she made the ride because she wanted to find out how the program works. “I think it’s an easier way to get around downtown,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about parking, plus the fact that it’s good exercise.”
She said she is proud UTHSC is a supporter of the program. “The university is involved in the community and it’s just another way we can encourage the community we live and work in to be healthier.”
Explore Bike share sought public input about where to place docking stations, including the ones at UTHSC, based on the most potential for traffic. “We found a lot of value in Madison and Manassas, not only through the employee and student population of UTHSC and surrounding institutions, but as a way to activate Health Sciences Park and the new bike lanes along Manassas,” said Sara Studdard, community engagement and marketing director for Explore Bike Share. “The public input process showed that intersection was really popular, and we believe it creates access into the Edge District, the park, and creates access for students to the student center and elsewhere.
“We’re excited for UTHSC students and employees to become members and utilize their discount and to bike around the medical district and surrounding neighborhoods,” Studdard said.