Three weeks ago, I learned how to ride a bike in two hours at the preview event for Indego, Philadelphia’s bike share program. I signed up for a membership and said, “So, I don’t actually know how to ride a bike.” Luckily for me, that wouldn’t be an issue. I was soon paired with Katie Monroe of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. By the end of the event, I was peddling away. Last Thursday, on launch day, I had the honor of leading the inaugural ride to the Free Library of Philadelphia Central Library (or FLP Central for short). However, riding on the streets of Philly is much different from the concrete of the Municipal Services Building Plaza… and I ended up “leading” from the rear instead.
But, I didn’t give up. For the last week, with the exception of a much-needed day of rest, I’ve been riding Indego daily. I’ve logged 94.5 miles on Indego according to my account, although I may actually be at 100 as a couple of rides didn’t record right (it’s impossible to go from the Art Museum to Rittenhouse in zero minutes). While waiting for Indego to launch, I had been taking daily walks around the city, rediscovering areas I hadn’t been to in years. It’s amazing how much this city has changed since I moved here five years ago.
Depending on how much time I have, a typical Indego ride for me is either along the Schuylkill Banks trail to the art museum or across town to Old City. Either way, they start at Drexel’s 33rd and Market dock.
From there, I head over to Penn to check-in at University City Station as it’s my last chance to do so for a couple miles, depending on what route I decide to go.
As I hope you can see, the Indego docks come in several form factors as they’re highly modular.
The South Street Bridge is where decision time comes in to play: I can either ride north along the river, or east in to Old City.
The dock at 23rd and South is one of my favorites as it took the place of several parking spaces. I don’t have anything against cars, but in a city that now has both a fairly extensive transit system with SEPTA and a bike share that’s expected to grow, I really don’t think you need one.
23rd and South is the last break before 2nd Street you’ll have if you skip turning off at Broad to Fitzwater, which requires doubling back to get back up to South Street. Seems fitting that not only did the Indego dock remove parking at 23rd, but a turn lane was repurposed as a plaza instead, similar to a handful of areas in New York.
Overall, after a week of use, I’m rather happy with Indego. The docks work well, customer service is great when you need them, and the bike handles the streets of Philly pretty well.
Honestly, if I ever bought a bike, I’d want one of the Indego ones, even though their 50-pound weight makes them difficult to get up hills – even in third gear. They handle beautifully, my rear feels great over the many potholes Philly has – although seriously slow down before hitting one – and the lights are remarkably bright at night. You could honestly compare them to the ones on SEPTA’s new NovaBus fleet or my family’s Mercedes ML350 back at home. Even with the bike’s reflectors too, I’d still go for a reflective vest at night. They’re pretty cheap at IKEA. I just hope Indego gets some docks up in Fairmount Park relatively soon.
If you want to see more of what a day on Indego looks like for me, head on over to my Flickr, and if you see me out and about, feel free to say hi and/or keep asking questions about the system.