With bike lanes that practically lead to the University of Memphis's front door it is no surprise that they have been planning their own bike share program for quite some time. According to Doug Campbell, who also serves as the UofM Cycling Club's Faculty Advisor, the program has but to be approved by the Board of Regents before being implemented this Fall Semester. The plan is to centrally locate 50 bicycles on the main campus. The bikes will be maintained by one student employee and one paid employee and students who sign up will be allowed a two week share period. This sounds more like a rental program based on the singular location and alloted times.
So what would happen if the UofM threw it's weight and money into the proposed city-wide bike share program? Approximately 20,000 students commute to the University of Memphis. Parking is at a premium and a bike share program that is integrated with a city-wide program would alleviate a small portion of the parking problem. Because students schedule classes at different times a "rush hour syndrome" would likely be avoided.
But students are not the only ones that will benefit from an integrated bike share program: the University's museums and performance centers could promote exhibits and performances at outlying share kiosks to draw in non-student visitors. As you probably know, the University often charges a higher admission fee to non-students.
Any type of program, integrated or insular, would benefit the city in that it would enable exchange students and campus residence students who don't have cars to get around the city; dine at more restaurants (Cooper-Young, Overton Square), shop at more places (Target, Oak Court), and attend more events around the city thereby gaining better cultural appreciation.
At the last Pizza With Planners meeting the representatives from Alta Planning admitted that they are still in the information-gathering phase and had plans to meet with the University in the future. (Let's just hope that whatever bicycles are chosen, they have rear racks and panniers lest someone die without them.)
While we wait for the Board's decision, you can show your support for the University of Memphis's bicycling efforts by liking the UofM Cycling Club on Facebook. Stay informed on the bike share progress by attending the Walk/Bike Memphis meetings at Otherlands. The next meeting is Monday, June 11th from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.