Ambassador Spotlight: Getting more parents on bikes

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Written by Patricia Gutierrez

The Better Bike Share Partnership (BBSP) is an effort led by the City of Philadelphia that works to ensure that Indego is accessible to all Philadelphians. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is a non-profit advocacy and education organization working as part of the Better Bike Share Partnership to support bike share and biking education. Better Bike Share Partnership is funded by the JPB Foundation.

Our Better Bike Share Partnership team at the Bicycle Coalition met with a group of staff from the School District of Philadelphia’s Head Start Program as well as the parents of their students, to teach Indego Street Skills and to lead the group on a ride around the Art Museum. Who is responsible for bringing these two organizations together for such a meaningful collaboration, you may ask?

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Mr. Dewayne Drummond. Drummond works as the Parent Engagement Assistant for the Head Start Program,  he is also the President of the Mantua Civic Association, and an Indego Community Ambassador!

All Indego Community Ambassadors are responsible for organizing Indego Street Skills classes and group rides between April and October. Drummond and his supervisor, Parent Engagement Coordinator Ms. Denota Watson, saw group rides as an opportunity to connect staff to the families they serve.

“My colleague Ms. Watson [and I], sat at the table with the parents and this [..] was something that they wanted to do,” said Drummond.

“Our job is to provide resources and Indego is a public resource.  I put the idea on the table and the parents helped plan the whole event.”

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Drummond and Watson cultivated so much interest that the team had to separate the group into two smaller groups. That way, one group could ride while the other group participated in the Indego Street Skills class. For Watson, participating in the class was most meaningful for her as someone who doesn’t ride bikes but cares deeply about the safety of Philadelphia families.

“Getting information about how to ride bikes safely, […] and just the whole element of riding a bike properly in the city was very informative for me. It’s something that I would like to follow up with the larger group of families about as we move into the summer and families are out and about with their children who ride bikes. [Bike safety] is something that everyone should be aware of to really be safe and prevent a lot of tragedies,” she said.

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Now that more parents have tried Indego and know more about how the program works, Watson is confident that they are going to keep riding. She heard many participants say, “I haven’t ridden a bike in years!” To see them excited about biking again and having access to bikes in their neighborhoods was a very positive experience for her.

Participants received free helmets, which Drummond believes was a good incentive to get them to continue to ride. He heard some participants say things like, “My child has a helmet, my child has a bike, but I don’t have a bike. So, now I’ve got this helmet, let me go get a bike!”

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Riding on the success of this event, both Drummond and Watson are excited to see how Indego will continue to make itself more accessible to everyone. Drummond feels strongly about the need for clear channels of information to reach historically underserved communities.

“I think it can be an effective resource if it’s communicated properly. If you have a true advocate who knows how to navigate that resource for the community then you have a clear channel,” said Drummond.

“You have these resources, but how are they being communicated to the community so that they can have them?”

The Indego Ambassador Program is one attempt to support true advocates like Drummond, who is one of fourteen Indego Ambassadors this year. Watson recognizes that few people know that the Indego Ambassador Program even exists, but she sees potential in the program to grow and reach even more families city-wide.

“I would like to see an expansion of the Ambassador Program. I think that’s a motivating factor for others to want to connect Indego with people in their community. Dewayne lives in a specific community… how do we expand that experience throughout the city? I think an opportunity to organize or train others to become Ambassadors would add to the Indego program and to biking in the city. That would be an excellent opportunity for individuals,” said Watson.

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We will be highlighting all fourteen of our Indego Ambassadors on the Indego blog this year. Stay tuned to learn more about the incredible Ambassadors we have and all the important work they will be doing in the coming months!

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