In case you missed it, the long awaited Explore Bike Share finally rolled out, and 600 bikes are now available to rent at hubs located all around the city.
This summer Explore Bike Share is teaming up with Revolutions Bicycle Cooperative to offer free bike safety classes. These classes will further the plans of both Revolutions and Explore Bike Share to reduce “barriers for bike accessibility and affordability throughout the city.”
Three classes will be offered: Bike Sharing 101, Commuting 101, and How to Ride in the Street. Each class has its own specific focus, but they all share the same goal of encouraging and empowering people to bike, and to hopefully “elevate bicycling as a legitimate form of public transportation.”
We interviewed Sylvia Crum from Revolutions Bicycle Cooperative to ask a few questions about Bike Share and how these classes can help anyone feel confident enough to ride the streets.
Choose901: How do you expect Bike Share to influence the biking community in Memphis? How will it influence those who don’t bike at all?
Sylvia Crum: Bike Share allows people who ride to ride more. And for those who are intimidated, it offers an easy way to try out riding. At Revolutions Bicycle Cooperative, we know that there are lots of barriers that keep people from trying out bicycles. One is our weather. To ride to work on a bicycle, for a lot of the year, can be a sweaty pursuit. For folks who work in an office, this just isn’t feasible. But Bike Share offers a chance to ride a bicycle at lunchtime, or to a meeting, or some other short journey. Another barrier is not having a bicycle in good working condition. But Bike Share takes away that worry. With a fleet of 600 new and constantly maintained bicycles, there’s no need to worry about whether you have air in your tires, or if your chain is rusty. Just hop on and go!
C901: Are these classes aimed at people who are already interested in biking, or do you hope to attract people who otherwise wouldn’t use a bicycle?
SC: We hope to attract people who are interested in trying to ride a bicycle. We know that bicycles provide a great way to move about our City, connect with friends, get fresh air and build community. But people who aren’t accustomed to riding in the street can feel nervous about what to do when the bike lane ends, or if they need to make a left turn. In our classes, we have already had participants who came out because they are excited about the chance to ride. Several have noted that they haven’t been on a bike in many years. But we get them comfortable, and we get them riding. And the smiles show that it really is “just like riding a bike.”
C901: How does Explore Bike Share plan to influence and interact with such a car dependent city?
SC: We may be car dependent but Memphis is also people focused. We’re a city of neighborhoods and front porches. As I roll through Memphis on my bicycle, I am able to wave and speak to the people I see. Bike Share has worked hard to locate in areas that will be useful to residents. And I think that Bike Share will offer a transportation option that Memphians will grow to love.
C901: What might a person learn in these classes that would make them feel safer and more confident while biking in Memphis?
SC: Don’t ride too close to the curb! We want folks to know that bicycles are vehicles and we ride as part of traffic. We know that many people were taught, as children, to ride against traffic. But when we’re riding as adults, as part of traffic, it is safest to ride in the direction of traffic. And by riding big, and making ourselves relevant to the other vehicles (by not hugging the curb, making eye contact with drivers, etc.), we help other vehicles to see us and share the road. We also offer the chance to practice in a group setting, which helps to build confidence. Revolutions is offering these classes. And we also encourage new riders to join our group rides, using Explore Bike Share bicycles, like Bike to Dinner, to practice.
The classes are held on multiple dates throughout June, at the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, First Congregational Church, Knowledge Quest, the South Memphis Farmers Market, High Cotton Brewing Co., Memphis Made Brewing Co., and Overton Park. Classes are offered at hours ranging from lunchtime to after-hours to accommodate varying schedules.
Find a complete list of dates, times, and event locations go here.