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Indego 2 Years In: Lessons from Bike Share
Biking

Indego 2 Years In: Lessons from Bike Share

Philadelphia’s innovative bike share program, Indego.

We talked to Aaron Ritz, Transportation Manager in the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, about the past two years of Indego and where it is headed for the future.

Indego turns two years old

“It’s been busy!” Ritz said since the program launch. Although the movement to bring a bike share program to Philadelphia was in the works for years, the work is far from over.

Many people have been working to make Indego the best program it can be, from the City of Philadelphia, Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and Bicycle Transit Systems. The Better Bike Share Partnership includes several groups to promote bike share best practices and equity strategies to increase bike share use in underserved communities.

All these groups are working together to promote Indego and bikes as a safe and efficient transportation option. Ritz explains that biking serves as an important piece of a comprehensive transport network along with other forms of transportation like SEPTA, cars, and walking. Providing the option of biking for transportation to more Philadelphians helps the whole system work better.

He emphasized the importance of understanding what people want and need from bike share to make biking a practical transportation option. All the other benefits of biking (reduced fossil fuel emissions, exercise, and recreation) are, as Ritz put it, “icing on the cake.”

A bike share for everyone

We’re pleased to be the first city in the country to promote social equity in the program.”

From the outset, the Indego program has always been going beyond transportation. Indego serves Philadelphians in a broad way and is, “a program that works for all kinds of people.”

What makes Philly’s bike share inclusive? With community input and access as priorities, Indego became unique in that right from the launch they focused on expanding into different neighborhoods rather than solely touristy areas.

All the partners of the program have worked to reach more people, like making the program more financially accessible with a cash payment option for people who don’t have access to banks. The marketing department of Bicycle Transit Systems, Indego operations team, came up with the idea for the Indego Access Pass. Anyone who has a PA access card can use it for a monthly discounted rate for Indego from $15 to $5.

The Indego team also works in close collaboration with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia to expand the reach of the program. The coalition offers safety classes for people who haven’t ridden a bike in years or are not used to biking in cities. Ritz says that these classes and other services like weekly group bike rides and events in English and Spanish have been a big success.

According to Ritz, these programs providing big benefits and Indego has seen an uptick in use by low-income residents and people of color. “The hallmark of success for us is the really positive responses we get when people talk about the program,” he said.

Success by the numbers

According to Ritz, in the past two years since the launch, Indego has seen over 1.2 million trips, currently has over 1000 bikes and 105 stations with more to come.

Some unexpected challenges

But that’s not to say it’s always smooth sailing for the Indego team; the program takes a lot of constant care and improvement. But Ritz explained that the two biggest events to have tested the operation were the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia in 2015 and the SEPTA strike in 2016, which presented unique challenges to the program.

The top single day of bike use for Indego was the Sunday of the Pope’s visit, and the SEPTA strike catapulted that week into the program’s busiest yet. But while the city was blocked up, the bike share helped relieve congestion and proved to be a reliable way to get people where they needed to go in such unique circumstances.

Plans for the future

Where does Indego go from here?  On the technical side, there’s a new option for employers to offer Indego discounts to their employees through the Indego Corporate Pass Program.

They’ve also been working on IndeHERO, an app that allows Indego users to earn points toward Indego membership by helping to make the system run better. Users can earn points by doing things like removing bikes from stations that are full or bringing bikes to stations that need more. The app indicates which stations are in need and is dynamic in changing numbers of points to reflect what’s really out there.

Indego Birthday Celebration

Ritz and the Indego team have been planning a celebration of the program’s second birthday with a series of events leading up to May 11, 2017, at Independence Live. Along with festivities, the team will be making exciting announcements on May 11th including brand new station locations.

Stay tuned for more info on the birthday events!

 

Photo: Indego on Facebook 

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Marie Bouffard
Marie is a senior at Villanova University studying communication and sustainability. She lives for hiking, camping, skiing, and any outdoor activity. Marie is a coffee addict, loves reading, and has never met a cat or dog she didn't like. View all posts by Marie Bouffard

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