Explore Bike Share
Convening community conversations on shared mobility, biking, & equitable transportation
Bike sharing systems are located in over 600 cities world-wide and provide a network of bikes that can be rented on-demand for short, point-to-point trips between stations around the city.
Little Bird Innovation partnered with DCA and a network of vested groups and citizens for the Explore Bike Share project, a year-long engagement to determine if bike sharing is right for Memphis and how to make it uniquely ours.
In its first phase, we investigated several key questions:
- Is there enthusiasm for a bike sharing program in Memphis, and if so, how should it work?
- What are Memphis’ biggest assets and concerns for bike sharing?
- How does bike sharing fit within Memphis’ burgeoning shared mobility and transportation justice movements?
- How can our bike share system serve as a community asset for improving economics, transportation, and health in traditionally successful locations as well as underserved communities?
We took an iterative and adaptive approach to the research, adjusting recruitment, outreach, and educational strategies and incorporative suggestions from experts and community members as we went. We then took the most important findings from each source and put them in concert with one another to establish the most salient themes (e.g., safety, equity, multimodal connectivity).
Our multi-pronged research strategy included:
- Interviews with local and national experts in a number of related fields (e.g., transportation; city business, government, and community leadership; bike share manufacturers and operators).
- An online survey with respondents from nearly every zip code in the metro area, surround Tennessee counties, and neighboring Mississippi and Arkansas counties.
- Secondary research of existing bike share systems, benchmark programs, comparable cities, business models and pricing structures, and how other cities were address some of our key questions, especially related to equity and transportation justice.
- Nine in-depth community input sessions in seven key neighborhoods that were both informative, explaining bike share systems and other city’s experiences, and explorative, diving into those key questions with Memphians from all walks of life.
- A self-guided packet that mirrored the community input sessions and allowed for faster responses at pop-up locations like festivals and events.
The inclusion of a wide variety of stakeholders also created new networks and knowledge-sharing opportunities and fostered in our team a genuine sense of support and inclusion in a growing and dynamic movement towards healthier, more equitable cities and transportation solutions. The national bike share communities, as well as our local leaders and citizens, weren’t just willing to participate in our research, they were enthusiastic, encouraging, and forthcoming at every opportunity. This early support and growing connections will be critical to the Explore Bike Share project as it considers recommendations and moves into its next phase of planning and engagement.
At the end of the first phase, recommendations based findings and themes included:
- Continue educational and outreach efforts to raise awareness of bike sharing systems and their economic, health, and mobility benefits.
- Create programming around stations, neighborhoods, and ridership to encourage participation (e.g., art contests, group rides, station parties, frequent usage discounts).
- Ensure the system is equitable and financially sustainable via grants, sponsorships and partnerships, individual donor programs, and direct revenue.
- Foster genuine community engagement with an on-going exchange of ideas and a collaborative, participatory model for research, capacity building, and economic development wherein residents in underserved neighborhoods are trained and employed as both researchers and community advocates.
- Create identity and ownership through design and branding with a unique color, partnerships with local non-profits or community organizations, or a title sponsor with a strong, beloved identity (e.g., Memphis Grizzlies).
- Be open to other models of biking-related, shared mobility based on individual neighborhood needs and the possibility of a system with multiple models organized under the same non-profit entity. For example, an underserved community with limited transportation options may be better suited to longer rental periods, a borrowing system through a partnership with a neighborhood church, or prescribe-a-bike or ride-to-own models.