Bike/Ped Memphis: An Intern’s Perspective

With this being back-to-school week, how about a post from a high school student on her experience interning with the City’s Bikeway and Pedestrian Program? We had the pleasure to host Heather, now a senior, for one week this past June. The following is an account of her time spent in the office.

 

During the week of June 12th I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with the City of Memphis Bikeway and Pedestrian Program. While here, I focused on the Great Streets Pilot Project, which is a project to transform the streets into public spaces using tactical urbanism.  The City of Memphis is working with the UrbanArt Commission, a non-profit focused on creating public art in Memphis, to complete and pay for the project.  The City is working to complete the project by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professions biennial conference since it is being hosted in Memphis this year, so they have had to work at a quick pace and fundraise from private sponsors.  The first time we went to visit the project on Monday, they had just begun and were paving streets, but were moving quickly.  I learned about the different ways that the City of Memphis could improve its streets to make them safer for bikers and pedestrians, such as extending curbs and shortening crosswalks, both of which are used in the Great Streets Project.  For the rest of the day, we attended meetings; first, with the UrbanArt Commission to discuss the project’s financing and the volunteer day being held June 24 and ways to market the event and second, with DCA to talk about signage along the route of the Great Streets Project and the general publicity of it.

On Tuesday, I worked on marketing the volunteer day and created a Facebook event for it and submitted the event to Choose901. After, we went to visit the site again and got to witness the crew laying the stripes for the crosswalk along Riverside and Beale.  Once we got back, I completed some office work and entered comments from a public meeting about Great Streets into the computer and began to work on compiling all of the photo submissions from the Memphis Rides photo contest.

The next day, I worked on creating a poster with the photo submissions from Memphis Rides to be used to announce the winner throughout the day. At 9:30 we rode some of the city bikes to our appointment with Forever Ready Productions to film a promotional video for the Great Streets Project and advertise the volunteer day.  We then went to Urban Earth Garden Center to discuss the plant fixtures which will be along the route of Great Streets and organized which arrangements will go in which planter keeping in mind who will be near those plants: bikes, pedestrians, or cars.  After our meeting we visited the Signs and Markings center and received a personal tour of the shop by the manager Don Gibson.  It was very interesting to see all of the types of work they complete in this office that is essential to roads and the safety of the individuals using them.

On Thursday, I completed the Memphis Rides poster and made a gif of some of the pictures for the announcement of the contest winner. Later that day, we went to visit the areas where the City of Memphis will be implementing the Big Jump, a project to extend bike lanes and networks into one specific area, South Memphis, to help connect it with the rest of the city.  This project is essential to helping people without other types of reliable transportation to be able to get around the city and make these roads safer for those who already use bikes.

On my last day, I got to attend a meeting about Memphis 3.0 with the working group Complete Streets, who are working together to discuss the plans for transportation infrastructure, complete streets, regulatory roadway plans and bike-ped and how to use and improve these to make a new comprehensive plan for Memphis. It was amazing to see a diverse group of leaders in Memphis working to improve Memphis and help it reach its full potential in the future.  After our meeting we went to check on the progress of the site of Great Streets and got to see the painter, Anthony Lee, working and painting the street.

Overall, I got to witness first hand how the City of Memphis and the Bike/Ped Program is working to make transportation more accessible and safer to everyone in the city, and I also learned that there is a lot of planning and work that goes into these projects, and it takes a lot of time and money for these projects to come to fruition. It was amazing to see the Great Streets Project develop and come to life, and I can’t wait until it’s finished!

 

Thanks for your help in the office, Heather, and good luck in your senior year!

We could always use a helping hand around the office. If you’re a high school or college student yourself or know one who would be interested in an internship, please give us a call at 636-6710.

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Explore Bike Share launching next Spring

Explore Bike Share, a local 501(c)3 with a mission to develop and implement a robust and inclusive bike share system in Memphis, is proud to announce its contract agreement with B-Cycle to bring a 600-bike system to Memphis by Spring 2018.

THE B-CYCLE DASH SMART BIKE

The B-Cycle Dash system, which represents the cutting edge of new bike share technology and accessibility, will enter Memphis as the largest bike share system of its kind in the nation. Among other features, Dash bikes include a forward-facing, turn-by-turn touchscreen GPS for seamless route recommendations and easy-to-follow directions.

“We couldn’t be more excited to officially partner with Memphis to offer a truly revolutionary type of bike share system,” said Bob Burns, President of B-Cycle, which currently operates 1250 bike share stations and over 10,000 bikes in 43 communities. “Explore Bike Share’s mission is empowering to our work, and we’re proud to share the latest technology and largest, most robust type of system to date—the B-Cycle Dash Smart Bike—with the Memphis community.”

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FOR MEMPHIANS, BY MEMPHIANS                    

In line with its mission to enter equitably and resourcefully for all Memphians and tourists—whether for transportation, health or cultural leisure—Explore Bike Share has proposed a full-scale service area to reach high-density areas of Downtown and Midtown, as well as South Memphis, Orange Mound and Binghampton.

“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, Explore Bike Share board member and President/CEO of The Works, Inc.. “We are proud to pursue and execute equity-oriented strategies such as bike safety education, ambassador programs, and workforce development partnerships.” 

Explore Bike Share was formally established in early 2016 with an initial board of directors after a year-long exploration effort by DCA, a creative communications consulting firm. Explore Bike Share’s official launch will illustrate a powerful unity of community partners, private donors, City of Memphis support, and founding members from Memphis’ 20+ zip codes established over the last two years. 

“Explore Bike Share is an exemplary model of public-private partnership,” said Mayor Jim Strickland, Mayor of the City of Memphis. “I am 100% behind the vision of Explore Bike Share and its mission to provide an affordable, accessible, equitable option for our citizens to experience and enjoy Memphis’ public spaces. Bike share will not only expand transportation options and health benefits for our residents, but it will also expand connections and perspectives between our neighborhoods.” 

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CMAQ EXPANSION GRANT

In addition, Explore Bike Share has been awarded $2.2 million Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) for system expansion.  This includes $1.8 million in federal funds, along with a local match of $455.000. The CMAQ grant will enable a 2019 expansion of an additional 30 stations and 300 bicycles to Explore Bike Share’s initial footprint.

“One of Memphis’ big opportunities for innovation is transportation,” continued Carlson. “Increased accessibility to transit, pedestrian and bike infrastructure is a critical part of Memphis’ economic growth and overall success, and bike share is an integral piece of that. Being awarded this financial opportunity is a clear sign of Memphis’ move forward.” 

NEXT STEPS

Upon submitting a purchase order with B-Cycle, Explore Bike Share will pursue a comprehensive implementation plan to build a fully-staffed nonprofit operation, lead site selection and community engagement efforts, further pursue sponsorships, and close the current capital funding gap of less than $1 million. City Engineering will continue to coordinate with Explore Bike Share on the site selection and roll out of the system.

“Unlike any other bike share system, the community is truly coming together to make this a reality,” said Suzanne Carlson, Explore Bike Share Vice Chair and Innovate Memphis’ Transportation and Mobility Project Manager. “We encourage all sectors to step up to support Explore Bike Share’s sustainable and robust launch.” 

Explore Bike Share’s initial 2015 community input session locations, from the South Memphis Farmers Market to BRIDGES and the National Civil Rights Museum, will be revisited this summer for open neighborhood bike share Q&A sessions and future site selection planning. Event details will be shared in the coming weeks. 

To receive updates and milestone announcements, subscribe at explorebikeshare.com.

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