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More September Features:

Profile: Dean Wagner
Earning stripes with Tiger statue
Student embarks on jungle adventure
Football by Fuente
U of M scores big at conference
Law students pro bono work
Getting spoked with bike share
Names in the news


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Getting spoked: bike share program comes to campus

By Greg Russell

As British rockers Queen once exclaimed in a 1978 hit song, "Get on your bikes and ride!"

The new Tiger Bikes ride share program will allow University of Memphis students to do that beginning this fall. The program will introduce a fleet of 50 bikes this year for shared student use. Besides the obvious — more exercise and convenience for students — other benefits could prove large in the future.

A bike share program for U of M students will debut in early fall.
A bike share program for U of M students will debut in early fall.

"It will help improve our parking problem, which is always a major concern," says Amelia Mayahi, U of M sustainability coordinator. "There are so many obvious benefits for people who live within two miles of campus to ride a bike rather than drive a car to campus. It cuts down on fuel, provides an easier parking option and is healthy."

Other benefits include giving students who can't afford bicycles an opportunity to ride.

Participants will be required to pay a $35 fee each semester and take part in a bike safety program that includes instruction in "rules of the road" prior to checking out a bike for the first time. Once enrolled in the program, students would have access to the bicycles on a first-come, first-served basis and would be able to keep the bikes for 14 days. In order to avoid a small number of students repeatedly renting the same bicycles, a 24-hour window between checkouts would be required. Users will be provided a lock and a helmet and be responsible for general maintenance and returning the bikes in good condition. 

The University will also have a bike repair shop with the entire program being housed in the old Printing Services building on Southern Avenue. Bikes will come in three sizes. 

As the program grows, plans call for additional bikes and a potential bike shop location on Central Avenue. There is the possibility that faculty and staff could eventually be included in the ride-share program, which is being funded by the Student Green Fee. 

Mayahi said she researched bike-share programs at Rhodes, the University of Michigan and at the University of Mississippi, taking note of pluses and minuses of each. "We found that it is important to purchase quality bikes or we would run into the problem of frequently replacing parts," she said.

Based on feedback, Mayahi said she expects the program to be successful.

"We surveyed students at new student orientation and asked them if they had an interest and they gave an enthusiastic, 'Oh yeah!' Their parents seemed pretty happy about it, too."

With bike lanes popping up in Memphis and with the city being named as the 2012 most improved city for cyclists by Bicycling magazine, Mayahi said she believes that will add to the interest. More than 35 miles of new bike lanes were built in Memphis in 2011, including several on nearby exterior regions of campus. There are about 108 miles of cycling routes in Memphis, including the 6.5-mile-long Shelby Farms Greenline. 

The Tiger Bike Shop will be open to the entire U of M campus, including non-members of the Tiger Bikes Program, for free use of air pumps and minor bicycle repairs performed by shop's employees during Tiger Bike Shop open hours, tentatively set for 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays. 

Mayahi said that she hopes the ride-share program will pique the interest of students in cycling so they will eventually buy their own bikes. "This would allow new students to be able to take part in the ride-share program," she said. 

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Last Updated: 9/5/12