Memphis is Going to Put More People on Two Wheels


The motorcycle industry is in full-on hand wringing mode wondering how to get more people to start riding. Aging baby boomers are moving on, and Millennials necessary to keep the industry moving up aren't buying. A program in Memphis may hold the key. Though not intentionally meant to help grow the two-wheeled industry, that could be the residual effect.

Thanks to philanthropist Jay Martin, Memphis streets may have at least 200 more motor scooters next year than there are now-- and possibly thousands more to follow in the coming years.

The problem Martin is solving is access to cheap transportation for Memphians (yes, that's what they call them) who otherwise can't afford anything but mass transit. He saw that people who were going through a job training program he helped fund were having a hard time getting to and from the places where they were being placed because they couldn't afford transportation.

So Martins committed $3 million to form a non-profit called My City Rides that will provide scooters under a lease-to-own program for residents. The goal is to keep people employed by providing them with low-cost transportation. Three dollars a day is all it will take.

My City Rides plans to buy roughly 200 169cc SYM scooters in its first year and reportedly has received its first 25 units.

It's not a stretch to consider that once some of these people get used to their scooters, they'll eventually want something bigger. That could be an even greater incentive to not only keep that job they've trained for, but to excel at it.