“Cash or Credit.” Sounds like a good deal. Indego Bike Share is now offering affordable bicycling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — not just another bikesharing program for the well-off. I believe Philadelphia to be a very pleasant city for pedestrians, due to longtime experience living there. Pedestrian life equates to more balance of the mind — walking is a good way to balance the brain. But now seems to be the time to make it better for bicyclists.
Bicycling projects in Philly are reinventing a bit of the city. Due to the city’s age-old mass transit system and sometimes-walkable, sometimes-crowded streets, bicycles in widespread use are rather new — or old depending on how far back one looks, I suppose. Indego is advancing the cause by partnering with PayNearMe to encourage affordable bicycling.
Due to the narrow, cobblestone streets, pedestrian life was and is easy in Center City. However, even in recent years, one sees only a few bicyclists there. As far as I can tell, the streets in Center City are so narrow that bike paths seemed like an elusive idea. However, it seems thing are changing now.
On into South Philadelphia, pedestrian activity to get a bagel on Sunday mornings seems safe enough. However, South Philly has many sides. The outer layers of the city and the longer urban areas around universities have been in more need of bicycles. The Indego bikeshare is improving the situation.
A citywide bikeshare in Philly may help students or visitors requiring a quick and unrestrictive means of transit.
And here are some riding tips from Indego:
Before your ride:
You should always wear a helmet when riding an Indego bike. Make sure to bring one with you when you know you’re heading out for a ride. Don’t have a helmet? Show your Indego Key at these participating retailers and get 10% off your helmet purchase!
Check your bike
Indego crews regularly check each bike to make sure it is ready to ride, but you should always give a bike a once-over before hopping on. If you find any issues with the bike, contact customer service immediately, and select a different bike to ride.
- Seat: Indego bike seats are easily adjustable. Just open the clamp on the seat post, lower or raise your seat, and close the clamp again. Make sure the seat is straight and doesn’t move. Most people prefer their seat to be high enough so they can straighten their legs while pedaling.
- Air: Make sure each tire is fully inflated by pressing down on it. If it flattens under pressure, select another bike.
- Brakes: Make sure the brake cables are working properly by pressing each lever next to the handlebars. If you don’t feel any resistance, select a different bike.
- Wheels: Give each wheel a spin to check that it does not catch against the brake pads or anything else.
Plan your route
Philadelphia has plenty of options for riding depending on your comfort level, from trails and paths to bike lanes and shared traffic lanes. Knowing the best route to take ahead of time often makes a bicycle trip easier. You can look up route ideas in several ways:
- Indego’s kiosk maps and online station map
- Philadelphia’s bike map
- Google Maps allows you to select a bicycle as your means of transportation and gives you the best route and elevation.
During your ride:
- Never ride against traffic. You don’t want to be a salmon swimming upstream!
- Walk your bike on the sidewalk. It’s called a sideWALK, not a sideRIDE.
- Obey traffic lights, stop signs, and yield signs.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has a comprehensive list of biking laws in Philly and in Pennsylvania.
- Only one person per bike. The rack on the back of your Indego bike is for bags, not butts!
Make it easy for drivers and pedestrians to know your next move:
- Don’t weave in and out of traffic. It’s always safer to ride in a straight line.
- Signal your next move. If you are turning, point in the direction you are going. This helps cars and other cyclists understand your intentions.
- Use bike lanes where available, unless you are turning or it’s unsafe to do so. If the street is too narrow for cars and bicycles to safely travel next to each other, you have the right to ride in the middle of the lane.
- Ride four feet away from parked cars to avoid the “door zone.”
Pay attention and communicate:
- Never ride with headphones; it’s important to hear what’s going on around you.
- Always yield to pedestrians.
- Make eye contact with drivers and pedestrians before passing.
- Always pass on the left. Use your bell or say “on your left” to let pedestrians and riders know you’re passing.
At the end of your ride:
When returning your Indego bike to a station, make sure it is securely locked. The dock will beep and a green light will indicate a successful return.
If you’ve had any issues with your bike during your ride, contact customer service.
If you’re an IndegoFlex or Indego30 member, check your online profile to see data from your trip.
One thing that struck me while I researched this bikeshare was some good information from PlanPhilly. And a bit from Jim Saksa. Saksa is a transportation reporter for PlanPhilly. Saksa mentions that he was “plagued” by his language deficiencies in Barcelona trying to use a bikeshare. A few of Saksa’s comments are below, including quotes from Andrew Stober, the Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities:
Language deficiencies like those that plagued me in Barcelona shouldn’t stop non-English speakers from accessing Indego, Stober said. Learning from CitiBike in New York City, the bike docking stations will be designed with “iconography that explains how to get the bike,” said Stober. The idea is to make the icons so clear, “it will be universally understood what the steps are to use a bike [from Indego].”
Also check out these safety rules for bicycles — relevant, whether you are in a similar Hemingwayesque mood or other.
And if wondering about safety in long stretches of unfamiliar neighborhoods, perhaps a Philly form of LA Bike Trains needs to pop up. This group shares route information and skills, and even mentors new cyclists into commuting by bike.