With a ceremonial ride from Eakins Oval to stations throughout the city April 23, Philadelphia celebrated the launch of Indego Bike Share. With 70 stations and almost 700 bikes, Indego users have begun to use the system, and the Mayor’s Office of Transportation (MOTU) is happy to report the numbers over the first few days: more than 3,000 trips have occurred, more than 1,200 members have signed up and nearly 1,000 residents have walked up and used a credit card to access the system.
“The launch went great and we had a fabulous first weekend,” MOTU chief of staff Andrew Stober said. “People are really excited. The response on Twitter, for what that counts, has been incredible. People are really excited to share their Indego experiences.”
There are a few ways to sign up. There’s the $15-per-month plan, which can be cancelled at any time, and that includes unlimited one-hour rides. Individual rides are $4, good for 30 minutes with the bike. If cash is the preferred payment method, users can sign up on rideindego.com to receive an e-mail or text message that allows riders to buy a 30-day membership in cash at 7-11s and Family Dollar stores. Users can check for available bikes and empty spaces at destination kiosks online and with smart phone apps.
Mayor Michael A. Nutter gushed about bike share’s arrival.
“It is rare that a City opens a new mass transportation system. The launch of Indego bike share means it is more affordable and convenient to get around, stay healthy and experience our wonderful city,” stated a press release, with Nutter making a point to praise its affordability.
The headquarters for bike maintenance, allocation and member concerns is in Kensington, and Stober says the space “hasn’t been occupied since 1883. Twenty Philadelphians are working there, and it’s great for businesses and great for the neighborhood.”
Indego general manager Peter Hoban explained that the early stages include lots of tweaking bike availability at stations and getting a handle on patterns of usage.
“We’re very reactive in the first couple of months and then we get enough data and we can become proactive. Weekday patterns are very different from weekend patterns,” he noted.
He added the space in Kensington is about 7,500 square feet and is bustling.
“We have two full-time mechanics, we have field mechanics, we have a call center operating here, and they take member calls, helping people in the streets,” he said.
They have two vans that can hold up to 20 bikes, which redistribute the modes of transportation after and before rush hours.
There are two stations on South Street (671 S. 23rd St. and 523 S. Second St.) and 12 below it: 1575 Point Breeze Ave.; 807 S. 21st St.; The Aquinas Center, 1625 S. 18th St.; Chew Playground, 1800 Washington Ave.; 726 S. Broad St.; 1201 S. Broad St.; 1116 Reed St.; 1084 Washington Ave.; 840 S. Darien St.; 403 Christian St.; 404 Bainbridge St.; and 925 S. Front St.
Additional bikes and stations will be rolled out next spring, too, and South Philadelphians have been campaigning for stations near home.
“Especially in South Philly, we have more people complaining to us about why they don’t have a station — we want to grow the system,” Stober reported.
Sites for racks typically need a six- to eight-foot clearance for pedestrians, 45 to 60 feet in length, and the station locations are a mix of public spaces and private land that owners have offered as kiosk locales.
Following his Tuesday work shift, Mikah Ochieng used an Indego bike at the 1201 S. Broad St. stop to venture to his home on the 1900 block of South 17th Street. Docking at Aquinas, Ochieng said “they handle differently but they get the job done,” noting their customizable features like seat height. Ochieng was at the ceremonial ride from Eakins Oval, as was Diversified Community Services, 1529 S. 22nd St. CEO Otis L. Bullock Jr. said 17 team members were along for the momentous occasion and the Point Breeze dock near his offices has been noticeably empty, indicating use.
“It’s a smooth ride and people are using them,” he said, commending the economical system.
Bike culture and cycling culture’s about to get more prominent with Indego’s success and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is thrilled.
“This adds 700 new bikes on the streets of Philadelphia and that is not insignificant. Drivers have to pay attention to bicyclists,” communications director Randy LoBasso said. “It calms streets down, it makes things safer for everyone. More people on bikes is better. It’s a very exciting time for Philadelphia, and this summer I think you’re going to see a lot of use.”
Staff Writer Bill Chenevert at email@example.com or ext. 117.