Welcome to the city of bicycle love. (Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®)
Philadelphia is a walking city. The downtown area is small (but growing), and plenty of people walk to their jobs, to the gym and out to dinner. In the past ten years, it has also become a biking city, but it wasn’t until last month that Philly got its very own bike sharing program.
I’m a Philly native — or at least I call myself one after growing up in the suburbs and going to college there. I love Philadelphia, and I love bike-share programs, which is why I decided to head down to the city of Brotherly Love to give this one a test drive.
Cruising along Spruce Street in West Philadelphia. (Photo: Nick Aster)
Indego (get it? Independence) now has 70 bike stations located from the Delaware River into West Philadelphia on the city’s east-west axis, and from the Navy Yard to North Philadelphia on its north-south axis. Indego has approximately 500 three-speed bikes.
Cyclists can walk up to any Indego station and rent bikes for quick trips around the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Like most municipal bike-share programs, the system allows users to return their bike rental to the nearest station.
Customers can purchase rides by the trip or buy a monthly pass. Visitors can rent a bike with a credit card for a flat fee of $4 per half-hour, no membership required. A monthly pass is $15.
The bikes are blue and shiny and still have that new-bike smell to them. We started out our inaugural journey in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, grabbing bikes on the corner of 21st and Christian for a ride up to University City to park them at 36th and Sansom St. for a lunch at the always stellar White Dog Cafe.
Indego bikes have both a front and a back basket, which makes them preferable to New York City’s Citi Bikes, which only offer a bungee cord, and Paris’s Vélib’ bikes, which sport only a basket in the front.
It’s easy to make friends on an Indego bike. (Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®)
As I inspected the Indego map, I was delighted to find that there were stations just about everywhere we wanted to go in the city — except to the sports stadiums all the way in the southern section of the city.
In the first week of operation, bike renters completed more than 8,000 rides, according to Philadelphia magazine.
Philly Magazine also reported that the most popular stations during the first week were as follows, in this order: Rittenhouse Square, City Hall/Municipal Services Building,15th and Spruce streets, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and 23rd and South streets.
There is a certain camaraderie to bike sharing, and as we rolled over the South Street Bridge and onto the University of Pennsylvania campus, we smiled and waved at fellow Indego riders.
Drivers in Philadelphia these days are much more cautious about bikers. Back in the day, they wouldn’t hesitate to honk and maybe flip you the bird if you swerved into their lane, but the growth of biking in the city seems to have mellowed them out.
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