Ella Best, a community champion and former Indego Ambassador recently passed away. A lifelong resident of South Philadelphia, Ella was a strong advocate for safety and health in her community. As president and founder of the nonprofit “Don’t Shoot… I Want A Future,” Ella worked to encourage youth to stay focus on positivity and growth through education and physical activity as a way to avoid crime and violence.
Ella was always happy to share her joy of riding Indego with anyone who would listen. For her, it was about engagement and building connections. In an interview with Indego Ella said “If you’ve got the Indego shirt on or a pin, or if somebody sees you on the bike they’ll stop you. I stop mid-way and explain. I’ll even give them my phone to call because I don’t care about crank calls. I’m trying to get people to sign up.”
Through her annual bike rides delivering food to those in need, or the memorable “Glow Ride” that went from Point Breeze to Boathouse Row with community members and Indego bikes all decorated in colorful lights and glow sticks, Ella worked hard to make sure her community knew that Indego was fun and for them.
When asked what her favorite part of bicycling was during an interview with People for Bikes, Ella answered “Connecting with the people,” and through those connections, Ella has built a legacy that will live on forever.
Below are comments from some of our Indego team members who were inspired by Ella.
“Ella Best was an advocate for her community and brought joy to everyone around her. She would give up the shirt on her back if you needed it. Some of my most memorable Indego bike rides and events were with Ella from providing food for those in need to supplying winter clothes and school supplies to children in the community. Mrs. Ella is the true definition of a legend and I’m honored to have known her.”
– Waffiyyah Murray; Better Bike Share Partnership Program Manager.
“Ms. Ella Best was the BEST! She always greeted me with a warm and gentle smile. I love how much she cared for her community! She was such a pillar of strength to so many. Ms. Ella’s legacy of loving and being there for everyone will live on for generations to come. Love like that last the test of time!”
– Carniesha Kwashie; Director, Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN)
Your legacy will always exist
You was a virtuous woman with a purpose
And you knew the true meaning of community service”
– DeWayne Drummond; President of Mantua Civic Association
“So much can be said about Ella Best. She encouraged everyone to get involved and nurtured a spirit of giving. I knew that something good was always about to happen when I joined her at any event. Ella challenged the community to do better and I hope the fire she set continues to burn in the people she touched over the years.”
– Stephanie Ridgeway; Indego Community Coordinator
“When Ms. Ella Best talked, you listened. While working with her for Indego, she offered so much knowledge, warmth, and love that was felt by many. Any time we had to engage, she was extremely nice and purpose driven. We need more community advocates like Ms. Ella to uplift and protect our most vulnerable communities in Philadelphia.”
– Kiera Smalls; Executive Director of Philly Startup Leaders
“Ms. Ella was always ready and willing when called to support Indego marketing projects and showed up with all of her family and community members happily in tow! Her infectious smile, personality, and dedication to her community made her a joy to work with and an immediate member of the Indego family. I’m so happy to have been blessed with the opportunity to get to know her. I dedicate this quote from Gordon B. Hinckley to the legacy she leaves behind. “The happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others.”
– Naja Killibrew; Founder/Marketing & PR Strategist; Media Culture Marketing & Public Relations
“I remember running into Ms. Ella during the first Free Streets event at the top of the South Street Bridge, as I was rushing to get to my next work spot. She stopped me to give me a huge hug, bursting with pride to see so many people on Indego bikes, and my memories of what had been a stressful day are instead defined by her excitement and positivity. We were so lucky to have her as a part of our Ambassador cohort, where she put in so much time and effort, even though Indego was only a small part of the community work she did. Her contagious joy will stay with me and with so many people who were touched by her extraordinary life.”
~ Claudia Setubal; Data and Evaluation Manager at Bicycle Transit Systems
“Ella was amazing. I learned so much from her through her joyful and dedicated work in the community through her organization, ‘Don’t shoot! I Want A Future’ and other efforts in South Philly. She organized a lot of rides. I was lucky to be able to roll with her. We rode from South Philly to all over the city. We rode to bring community members together, to improve health, to feed hungry people, to bring people to resources to have fun and for so many other reasons. Whenever I saw Ella in the community, either on a ride, at an event or just by happenstance, there was always a warm greeting that brightened my day. I’m grateful to have had the chance to be in community with Ella Best.”
– Azephra Hamilton; Former Indego Community Liaison
“Ella Best was a true Queen of South Philly. She gave so much to her community, so tirelessly, in so many ways – from anti-violence activist to Indego Ambassador to Girl Scout leader to a thousand other roles. It was one of the great joys of my time with Better Bike Share/Indego to get to know her, and she will be deeply missed. <3 <3 <3”
– Katie Monroe; Former Better Bike Share Partnership Outreach Manager
“I heard of Ella well before I met her at a ride in South Philly to distribute scholarships to graduating seniors. The ride was put on by Unity in the Community, and Ella was there making her positive presence felt. I introduced myself and thanked her for the work that she did and the support she gave to Indego. She told me, “Nothing to it. I just love being out in the community on this bike. I feel like I could do this forever.”
– Aaron Ritz; Transportation Systems Manager, Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability
“Ms. Ella was one of the dopest people that I have ever met. From the first day that we met her, she embraced me as a friend. Ms. Ella told me on that day that we had work to do. For the next few years that is what we did. I’m honored to have known Ms. Ella. I am grateful that I was able to feel how she loved. I’m proud that I was able to work side by side with her.”
– Sarah-Ashley Andrews; Founder and CEO of Dare2Hope
“I met Ella Best in 2016 when I recently joined the Better Bike Share team. Little did I know she was part of my community, right across the other side of Broad Street in South Philadelphia. This is an area where people most often think of violence and never get to see the impacts of Ella’s hard work — building unity in the community. Ella wasn’t just a neighbor, but an advocate for the next generation of organizations like the one she started, “Don’t Shoot I Want a Future”. She was devoted to seeing many things change in her community for the greater good and she was one of Indego’s greatest ambassadors. She would do anything to connect people to resources, and that means challenging them to get on a bike and strive to find a new route. She will always be in our minds, and she will always be remembered as one of The Better Bike Share’s greatest ambassadors.”
– Brenda Hernandez Torres; Community Engagement & Outreach Coordinator, Bicycle Coalition Of Greater Philadelphia
“Ella Best was a phenomenal Indego Ambassador as well as a consistent ambassador for her community and people in need. One of the most memorable community bike rides I was a part of was one that Ella organized; we were riding from Point Breeze to the Parkway with packs and packs of food that Ella and her husband, Norman, prepared, to help feed people facing food insecurity. Pouring rain has ruined a lot of community rides but not this one. Despite the fact that it was pouring, a few people persevered and rode their bikes while a car with the food followed. One thing was clear, this ride was not going to be stopped because it was driven by a mission. Ella was driven to spread positivity and help others and it was an honor to work with her through Indego biking and beyond.”
– Greg Young; Education Program Manager, Bicycle Coalition Greater Philadelphia.
In honor of Ella Best, Indego will be dedicating the 22nd & Federal Indego station to her, which is where she led many community rides
If you knew Ella Best and would like to share a few words, feel free to leave your comment section below.
The Better Bike Share Partnership is an effort led by the City of Philadelphia that works to ensure that Indego bike share is accessible to all Philadelphians. The Better Bike Share Partnership is funded by the JPB Foundation.