Bird or Bike Share: How should you explore Memphis

With all the new ride share options around Memphis, how will you choose to get around the Bluff City? We took a ride on an Explore bike and a Bird Scooter -- check out our experience!

Bird, Explore Bike Share, Uber, Lyft…the list of transportation options continues to grow in Memphis.
The newest editions–Explore Bike Share and Bird–arrived in Memphis in May and June respectively.
Explore Bike Share allows people to rent bicycles in 1 hour increments. The bikes must be picked up and dropped off at designated bike racks that are placed around the city.
Bird offers electric scooter rentals. The scooters are scattered around the city and can be picked up and left anywhere.
Both programs give Memphians and tourists in the city the chance to get around faster and enjoy the best of what the Bluff City has to offer. Each has some pros and cons to consider before renting.

Explore Bike Share

In early 2015, city leaders started looking into if a bike rental service would work in Memphis.
After more than three years of planning, Explore Bike Share launched in May 2018 with 600 bikes available for rent.
The bikes can be found at designated bike racks placed strategically throughout Memphis.
Some of the bike racks have a payment kiosks. For the other ones, you must use the Explore Bike Share app to rent and unlock your bike.
To rent a bike, you must first create an account (called a membership) with Explore Bike Share. The company offers four different membership types: Single Ride, Weekly, Monthly, and Annual.
  • A single ride costs $5 and is good for one trip up to 60 minutes.
  • A weekly membership costs $12. It is good for an unlimited number of 60-minute rides for one week.
  • A monthly membership costs $15. It is good for an unlimited number of 60-minute rides for one month.
  • An annual membership costs $120. It is good for an unlimited number 60-minute rides for a year.
In each case, your rental must not last more than an hour. If you do not return your bike to a designated bike rack within 60 minutes of renting it, you will be charged a late fee.

Bird

Bird is an electric scooter rental company founded in California in 2017.
The company expanded quickly. Bird scooters can now be rented in 29 cities across the country.
To rent a bird, you must download the Bird app.
From there, you’ll need to find a bird, scan your driver’s license, and enter a payment method (such as your credit card).
Once you’re account is set up, you won’t have to do it again. You’ll just find a bird and go.
Birds can be found all throughout the city. They start the day in designated Bird nests. Then, as they’re rented, riders can leave them anywhere. To find a bird near you, you’ll open the Bird app and search the map.
Renting a Bird costs $1 and then you are charged $0.15 per minute.
The Bird scooters travel up to 15 miles per hour, which is about 5 miles per hour faster than the average person on a bicycle.
When you’re finished with your Bird, you can park it in any safe area.
Bird employs chargers to come around every evening. The chargers pick up the scooters, take them home, charge them, and return them to the Bird nests in the morning.

Evaluation

Explore Bike Share and Bird are excellent additions to Memphis. They provide personal transportation options, at a reasonable price, for citizens and tourists.
The service you should rent probably depends on what you want to do.
Explore Bike Share can be a great way to spend an hour getting exercise and exploring the Bluff City. It’s also a great way to enjoy the recently created Big River Crossing.
Bird can be a great way to enjoy different businesses in the Bluff City.
The can drop Bird scooters anywhere. So if you find a museum or a restaurant you want to try, you can just park your Bird and stop paying for it. With an Explore Bike, you’ll need to find a bike rack and end your rental.
Renting a Bird for 60 minutes will cost you $10. So for an hour, Explore Bike Share is cheaper. But again, the advantage of riding a Bird is that you don’t have to rent it for a full hour. You could rent it for five minutes ($1.75), 13 minutes ($2.95), or any other amount of time.
During the Bluff City Weekend test of both services, the Explore Bike Share kiosk did not work. We also had trouble with the app on an iPad and an older iPhone.
The Explore Bikes are also a bit heavier than your average bicycle. The heaviness can make it difficult to perform sharp turns. However, the bikes do have a built in GPS system.
Bird has a mixed reputation. People who like the scooters, love them; people who dislike the scooters, hate them.
Bird moved into Memphis with approval from city leaders. However, that’s not always the case. The company was kicked out of Nashville following several complaints. San Francisco and Santa Monica in California both sued Bird after a multitude of injuries and complaints from citizens.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention you should always wear safety gear when riding either device. During our test, the rider on the Explore Bike crashed when driving over the trolley tracks. Plus, the arrival of Bird scooters in Memphis have coincided with an uptick in ER visits.