Bike Share is here, and thousands of Philadelphians have already experienced it.
Philly’s shiny new Indego system launched Thursday with 600 bikes at nearly 60 station locations across the city. Since then more than 3,500 trips have been taken, and 1,200 people have signed up for monthly memberships.
Andrew Stober, a spokesman from the Mayor’s Office of Transportation Utilities, said that each bike was being ridden on average twice per day during bike share’s inaugural weekend, which he said is “really good after only being in operation three days.” Of the 3,500 trips taken, Stober said more than 1,000 were walk-up riders who aren’t members.
The Bike Share-affiliated tell stories of riders being stopped on their big, blue bicycles by drivers and passersby, many wondering how the new program works and how they can get involved. Sarah Clark Stuart, deputy director of the Bicycle Coalition, said Indego heard about one rider who was riding his bike and got honked at by a driver. He turned around and the driver said, “how can I get one of those?”
Bike share officials still have work to do over the coming weeks, though. The “Phase 1” goal to have 60 or more stations placed across the city hasn’t quite been met — Stober said 10 more are going in this week (including near the Pennsylvania Convention Center), and another four are delayed for various reasons like ongoing construction and pending legal agreements.
In the future, Bike Share officials hope to expand the system to 180 docking stations and more than double the current number of bikes available for use.
In addition to the further construction of the docking stations, Indego is working to collect data over the next month that tells them when and where bikes are being used most often. (Location and time-based data for this past weekend isn’t yet available.) After the first month, they’ll look at that data and rebalance where the bikes are placed in order to maximize usage.
The relatively glitch-free weekend bodes well for officials who have worked for years to make Philly’s bike share system a reality. In addition to the time, Indego’s working with a $16 million five-year budget subsidized with $3 million from the city and $1.5 million from the state. The rest of those funds come from grants and Indego’s title sponsor, Independence Blue Cross.
Here’s how the big blue bikes work, if you haven’t tried it out yet:
1. If you don’t have a monthly membership, you simply walk up to the docking station and engage the touchscreen. It will ask you for a zip code and a cell phone number so Indego can send you texts.
2. Insert a credit card or debit card to pay for the 30-minute/ $4 option.
3. After your payment is processed, you have 30 seconds to remove the bike from your selected docking location.
4. When you’re finished riding it, you can return it to any station with an open dock. Stober says Indego is stressing to customers to be sure they hear the click when the bike is put back in the docking station. That’s kinda how you check out.
Click here for information on how to obtain a membership (definitely the more frugal plan if you’re going to be using this more than a few times each month,) and click here for a map of all the docking locations. And if you’re interested in using an app, download the BCycle app and select “Indego” under “Select a Program.”
Reactions to riding Philly’s bike share system were generally good. Most people said they were comfortable and felt safe using the program. Here’s a roundup of what they said: