June is recognized nationally as Pride Month and is a time to make the LGBTQ+ voices in our community heard, respected, and to recognize the impact LGBT+ people have had in the world. This Pride Month, Indego released a new, specially wrapped bike called the Philly Pride Bike, which made its debut at the Pride Parade in Philadelphia on June 9th.
We sat down with Alison Cohen, CEO of Bicycle Transit Systems, and Amber Hikes, the Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs to discuss the importance of visibility and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community in the bike share industry and in Philadelphia.
Alison, why was it important that Indego develop a Philly Pride Bike?
Firstly, Indego and its operating company, Bicycle Transit Systems, is proud to introduce the Philly Pride Bike to show the City’s, Independence Blue Cross’ and Bike Transit’s support for the LBGTQIA community in Philadelphia and beyond. I am the CEO of Bicycle Transit Systems – a female with a wife and three young daughters at home. As a member of the LGBTQIA community, it has been incredible to see families like ours, and individuals and families vastly different from us, who are also members of this community, be included and equally respected in all aspects of our city’s life – from policing to employment to transportation.
How does your company help to create an inclusionary environment for its employees from the LGBTQ+ community?
As a leader of my company and an LGBTQIA person, I am keenly aware of how small details can create either an inclusive or exclusionary environment. Therefore, we have worked deeply at Indego, and at all levels of Bike Transit, to ensure we consider all perspectives – people of different colors, religions, genders, sexual orientations, job categories, income levels – when we hire, implement programs or implement any workplace change.
We ensure that all of our employees learn about the different types of people riding Indego and the different people with whom they work, to ensure that Indego and our customer service includes all Philadelphians. Everyone of all stripes, rainbow or otherwise, should get on an Indego bike!
Amber, can you explain how and why the More Color More Pride flag is different than the six-color rainbow Pride flag?
In June 2017, I introduced the More Color More Pride flag to Philadelphia—and unwittingly, to the world. The More Color More Pride flag included the traditional six-stripe design, with the addition of black and brown stripes to represent people of color who have historically been marginalized, even within the LGBTQ+ community.
This flag symbolizes the complexity of intersectional identities—especially within the LGBTQ+ community, the reality of oppression within marginalized communities, and Philadelphia’s long legacy of fighting for social justice. The More Color More Pride flag started an international conversation. Two years later, we see OUR Philly flag everywhere from Piccadilly Circus in London to the red carpet at the Met Gala.
What are some of the goals for you and your team in 2019?
In the fall of 2019, we launched the LGBTQ Community Leadership Pipeline, which is a capacity building initiative that cultivates the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders in our city. This program places diverse LGBTQ+ leaders on the boards of our city’s LGBTQ+ nonprofits and is dramatically changing the leadership landscape of our community for generations to come. Like so many things we do in Philly, the program is the first-of-its-kind in the country, and I am just so proud of what we’ve built and how much community support surrounding it.
The LGBTQ Leadership Pipeline is an initiative we will continue to develop and build upon because it is vital to our narratives, experiences, and history. We hope that this initiative will serve as a national model for diverse and inclusive leadership.
What is something that your office has accomplished that you are proud of?
I am really proud of the new police policy regarding the rights and safety of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals in Philadelphia. The Office of LGBT Affairs worked side-by-side with members of the transgender community and the Philadelphia Police Department to create one of the most progressive policies in the country regarding police interactions with members of the trans community.
The policy requires police to use the correct name and pronouns for individuals, to transport anyone needing hormone therapy and other medical attention to nearest medical facility, and to ensure that trans folks are able to be searched, transported, and housed separately and safely according to their preference.
Why is representation like the Pride Bike important for the LGBTQ+ community?
Just like the More Color More Pride flag, we know that visibility through other public materials and campaigns matter. Tangible symbols like these bikes demonstrate the diversity and inclusivity of our beloved Philadelphia. Also, it’s a lot of fun! Of course, symbolism is only half the battle. The real work comes when we take that symbolism and commit it to action. That act of disruption, of challenge, of showing up—not just when it’s convenient, not just during Pride Month—is what Pride has always and should always be about.
To learn more about the great work that the Office of LGBT Affairs is doing, click the button below! If you ride the Philly Pride Bike, take a photo, post it on social with the hashtag #PrideBikePHL for the chance for Indego to repost!
This post was written by Emily Hooven, the Marketing and Communication Coordinator for Indego bike share.
Bicycle Transit Systems is a Philadelphia-based business that specializes in bike share launch, operations, and management. Comprised of the most experienced bike share operations team in the industry, Bicycle Transit Systems manages all operational elements of Indego, including bike and station maintenance, marketing, and customer service.