Bike of the Tiger 

University of Memphis launches bike-sharing initiative.

Since 2010, Memphis has added 50-plus miles of bike lanes, as well as greenline trails and "share the road" signage.

The University of Memphis is taking advantage of the city's recent bike-friendly status with the launch of Tiger Bike, a student bike-sharing program.

By paying a $35 per semester registration fee, U of M students can rent bikes for up to two weeks at a time.

"There are so many students who live within a two-mile radius of campus and don't have to drive their car to campus," said Amelia Mayahi, sustainability coordinator for the U of M. "They can ride their bike and go straight to the door where their classes are. And we also have a parking issue on our campus. I think this [program] could help with the limited amount of parking spaces."

The bikes, which were supplied by the Peddler Bike Shop on South Highland, can only be rented by students who are enrolled for the 2013 school year and have all of their semester fees paid.

More than 50 bikes are available for students to choose from at the Tiger Bike Shop at 3699 Southern Ave. Prior to a student's first bike rental, they must sit through a 20-minute membership course that instructs them on how to properly utilize and secure the bike and safety rules of the road. Students may call or email the Tiger Bike Shop in advance (678-4201, tigerbike@memphis.edu) to check on availability.

The program is funded by the Student Green Fee, an initiative that requires all full-time students to pay a $10 sustainable campus fee each fall and spring semester.

It also corresponds with the university's Memphis Healthy U initiative, which encourages students and employees to exercise daily, eat healthier, and become tobacco-free.

"A lot of students' complaints are that they can't fit in exercise because they're so busy, so this is definitely another avenue of getting students active to live a healthy lifestyle," Mayahi said.

The bikes are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and a 24-hour window between checkouts is required to avoid students repeatedly renting the same bicycles. If all bikes are checked out, students are placed on a waiting list until one becomes available.

Mayahi visited other universities that have bike-sharing programs, such as Ole Miss and Rhodes College, and researched their initiatives before launching Tiger Bike.

After judging the program's success this spring, more bikes may be available for students to rent in upcoming semesters. Faculty and staff may also be able to rent bikes in the future.

"With 55 bikes and as many students as we have, I really think that the interest in this program is going to be very [high]," she said. "I think we'll have more students than bikes at some point. This is going to be a pilot year, and we'll test how the program progresses. I definitely think we will need more bikes in the future."

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