In November 2018, Indego steered into the unknown with the launch of an Electric Bike Pilot Program. Ten pedal-assist electric bikes were added to Indego’s existing fleet of 1,500 bikes and, with the press of a button, riders suddenly had the option to give their ride a boost!
Why electric? This pilot provides an opportunity for Indego to reach new riders who may not have seen themselves using bike share previously. Aaron Ritz from the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure & Sustainability (oTIS), says that part of the appeal of the Indego electric bike is its ability to “get those ‘bicycle-curious’ folks back out onto the road. For anyone who’s been afraid of hills, headwinds, or sweating through their shirt, electric bikes can make a big difference.”
Some electrifying results. As of today, 500 different passholders have taken over 3,500 rides on Indego electric bikes. These bikes get an average of seven rides per bike per day, compared to Indego’s classic pedal bikes, which each get an average of about two rides a day.
Operational hurdles. One of the challenges of adding electric bikes to the Indgeo system is that currently, the batteries need to be charged remotely and swapped manually. While Indego has gotten some feedback around depleted batteries, the overall user response has been overwhelmingly positive.
What a rush! Jesse, a bicycle courier and Indego passholder, says he had been looking into buying an electric bike for a long time. One day, he saw the field team swapping the battery on an Indego Electric bike at 19th & Market and decided to try it out. He rode over 40 miles! Jesse loves that the Indego Electric bikes allow him to ride faster and go farther with less effort.
Another regular Indego rider, who goes by Cabbie, said that he was running late for an appointment one day when he saw an Indego electric bike docked at 22nd and Federal. He described his experience,
“I was so excited to see an electric bike, because I thought, ‘Oh, that’ll get me there faster!’ So, I took the electric bike from 22nd & Federal to the station at 11th & South. At first, when I started to ride it, I was a bit scared. But once I got the hang of it, I was flying!!! It was so much fun!”
New possibilities. The addition of electric bikes is especially exciting for Indego’s older riders. Previous Passholder of the Month, Richard Paredes said, “I am 60 years old and I have been riding Indego for over 2 1/2 years. This new electric bike is wonderful. It gives me the extra help I need to conquer those challenging Philly hills and obstacles.”
Inclusive by design. The Better Bike Share Partnership Program Manager, Waffiyyah Murray, sees electric bikes as a vehicle for equity. “The introduction of electric bikes has been a game changer in the bike share industry. This new technology will help address several barriers and open the door for new cyclists to try biking for the first time or use it more often as a regular form of active transportation.”
Beyond cycling. The addition of electric bikes to the Indego system directly correlates with the City’s commitment to reducing carbon pollution and improving local air quality as was outlined in their strategic transportation plan, CONNECT.
The Clean Air Council’s Sustainable Transportation Outreach Coordinator, Will Fraser, said that he is very excited to see Indego bringing shared electric bikes to Philadelphia. “Shared electric bikes make bicycles accessible to more people for a wider range of activities. Electric bikes can reduce overall traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, and be used to travel longer distances.”
Looking forward. Based on the success of the pilot, the future looks promising for Indego electric bikes. Aaron Ritz from oTIS shared his excitement,
“We’ve seen that people love the electric bikes and ride them longer and for more time than our traditional models. We’ve also seen that the bikes have held up well to this constant attention. The City of Philadelphia is currently looking into options to expand the electric bike fleet in the coming year.”
Indego is excited to continue pushing innovation in shared mobility. Stay tuned to Indego’s social media accounts for further announcements about the future of Indego electric!
To learn more about the Indego Electric Bike Program, visit the website at https://www.rideindego.com/electric/
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.