MOTU Announcement | Mayor Nutter Announces That Indego Bike Share Will Launch April 23

Philadelphia, March 30, 2015 –Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that the launch of the Indego bike share system will take place at noon on Thursday, April 23rd at Eakins Oval. Members of the public are welcome to join the festive kick-off event, which will feature music, brief remarks, and a ceremonial ride on the new bikes by members of Indego. The docking stations where Indego bikes will be parked will operate 24 hours a day all year at 70 locations in neighborhoods from Point Breeze, Passyunk and Center City to Yorktown, Olde Kensington, Francisville and Spruce Hill. Bike share users can access bikes at any station by using member cards or credit/debit cards and return them to any other station.

“I am thrilled that we are launching Indego in less than 30 days. Great cities provide residents, commuters, and visitors with great transportation and recreation options. Indego adds another option to get around, stay healthy, and experience our wonderful City,” said Mayor Nutter.

Affordable membership options

Beginning today, memberships are available from www.rideindego.com. Users are encouraged to sign up before the April 23rd launch.  System members will receive a key that allows to access a bike at any Indego station.  Indego30 is a 30-day membership plan that provides members unlimited one-hour rides.  It is priced at just $15 per month and is available with credit card, debit card, and cash payment options. For credit card customers, the membership will renew automatically and can be cancelled at any time. Cash payments will be facilitated by PayNearMe, an electronic cash payment system that allows consumers to make cash payments at local stores. After signing up for membership via the Indego website, PayNearMe will send each consumer a bar code by text message or email. Consumers then take that bar code to participating 7-Eleven or Family Dollar stores and pay for the Indego membership in cash.

All Indego members will get 10 percent off bicycle helmets at select bike shops and athletic stores around Philadelphia.

Membership discounts for Independence Blue Cross Members and Dollar Days for everyone

As the official sponsor of Indego bike share, Independence Blue Cross supports the health and wellness of all Philadelphians by encouraging everyone to integrate physical activity into our daily lives. Through September 30, 2015, Independence Blue Cross members can enjoy their first 30 days of an Indego30 membership for just $5. Additionally, on twelve Independence Dollar Days throughout the year, beginning with the May 15 Bike to Work Day, everyone can try Indego for just $1 for the first half hour.

“We believe Indego will inspire people to get outside and get active, and that will strengthen the well-being of Philadelphia,” said Daniel J. Hilferty, Independence Blue Cross president and CEO. “That’s why we will give our members a 75 percent discount off the first month of membership and why we’ve arranged for 12 Dollar Days throughout the year when anyone in our community can ride an Indego bike for just one dollar.”

Indego is the first large bike share system in North America to offer:

  • A 30-day membership that will renew automatically and can be cancelled at anytime;
  • A pay-as-you-ride membership, in which you pay only for the rides you take;
  • Membership options that include 60 minutes of ride time before users incur additional fees; and
  • A cash payment option for 30-day memberships.

“We are proud that Indego will be America’s most accessible bike share program. Our pricing structure provides great value, puts customers in control of how much they spend, and is easy to understand. With options that allow members to take trips that last up to 60 minutes, we’ve made Indego a great option for getting around or just taking a ride to enjoy the city and get some exercise. For tourists, jumping on an Indego bike using our flat half-hour rate makes the decision to try Indego easy,” said Andrew Stober, Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities.

Indego Preview Event

Indego will hold a preview event on Thursday, April 2 from noon to 2 PM at Paine Plaza across from City Hall. During the event, a docking station and bikes will be on display, and visitors can try the system, find out about membership options, and purchase memberships.

More about bikes, stations and staying in the know

All Indego bikes will be equipped with a bell and front and rear lights. Each bike will also be inscribed with a safety message that encourages helmet use and cautions riders to yield to pedestrians, avoid riding on sidewalks, ride with traffic, and obey all traffic lights and signs.

“As a Philadelphia-based company, we are so proud to help make this amazing system a reality,” said Alison Cohen, President and CEO of Bike Transit. “Bike share is such an efficient, fun, and convenient way to get around. From promotion and to customer service to maintenance of the world class BCycle bikes, Indego is powered by Philadelphians for Philadelphians. We couldn’t be more excited to have such a positive impact on the City.”

Over the past eight months, officials from the City of Philadelphia have conducted public outreach, attended community meetings and invited Philadelphians to vote on station locations online, via text-message and paper surveys. More than 5,600 Philadelphians provided nearly 11,000 comments on station locations.  The City has placed stations where they will be useful, convenient and compatible with the surrounding environment.

For more information on Indego, the station locations, and updates on the program, including membership registration and docking station map, visit Philadelphia’s bike share program website: www.RideIndego.com.

Philadelphia’s Bike Share Strategic Business Plan is Here

We’re thrilled to be announcing another major step toward launching bike sharing in Philadelphia by 2014! Yesterday, Mayor Nutter and Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler unveiled the Philadelphia Bike Share Strategic Business Plan, laying out the detailed ground work for how to successfully get a bike share system rolled out and running.

The full plan is available at the City’s official bike share website. According to the Plan, Philadelphia will be able to support a system of 150 to 200 stations with 1,500 to 2,000 bikes, stretching from the Delaware River into West Philadelphia and from Temple University through Center City to the Navy Yard. The program is expected to have a capital cost of between $10-15 million, $3 million of which has been committed through the City’s capital budget. The rest of the funding will be raised from grants and sponsorships, and after the launch, the system is not anticipated to need any public operating subsidy.

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Two-phase bike share roll-out recommended by the Business Plan

The plan calls for a two-phase roll-out of bike sharing, with a first phase opening in 2014 centered on areas with high employment density. A second phase in 2015 will expand the reach of the system in all directions. The Strategic Business Plan was based on an earlier feasibility study that identified where bike sharing would provide the most use to the most people.  This analysis was based on many factors, including residential and job density as well as travel patterns and locations of existing bicycling and transit infrastructure.  This method has been employed during the design of many of the other successful bike sharing systems around the U.S.

With the business plan in place, yesterday’s announcement also begins the process of identifying potential station locations. The City’s bikeshare site links to an interactive map that lets anyone suggest and vote on dock locations.  Additionally, the City issued a Request for Expressions of Interest from property owners, businesses, and institutions in Philadelphia wanting to host and/or sponsor bike share station locations.  Expressions of interest will help the City understand exactly where demand for bike sharing is and will help us as we move forward with detailed system planning (we’ll have more on this next week).

Going forward, the City will be looking issue a Request for Proposals this Fall seeking an operator to run and manage the bike share system.

Find the full plan, the press release, and the Request for Expressions of Interest at the City’s official bike-share website: http://www.phila.gov/bikeshare

Did someone say Bike Share?

Tuesday will provide Philadelphian’s a plethora of opportunities to learn about Bikeshare systems, examine the equipment and learn about how systems work in cities such as Denver, DC and Boston.

Bike Share Demonstration

  • What: See bike sharing in person, meet the professionals who make it happen
  • Where: Northeast Corner of Rittenhouse Square, at 18th St & Walnut St 
  • When: 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM on Tuesday, April 30th

Next Tuesday, April 30th, The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation will host some of the nation’s leading vendors of bike share equipment in Rittenhouse Square. Between 10:00 AM and 6:30 PM you can try out the bike sharing equipment that is operating in cities across the country. The professionals who have installed bike sharing systems in such cities as Boston, Denver, Miami Beach, Washington DC, Charlotte and others will be on hand to share their experiences.

Bike Share Forum

  • What: Hear and see presentations from the architects of the nation’s best bike sharing systems
  • Where: Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
  • When: 6:30 PM on Tuesday, April 30th

Later you can learn more about bike sharing join the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University at 6:30 PM the same evening for a Bike Share Forum. We will hear presentations from the architects of some of the nation’s best bike sharing systems. The forum will conclude with a brief presentation on the City of Philadelphia’s plans to launch a first-class bike sharing system by the end of 2014.

Register for the Bike Share Forum here: http://phillybikeshareforum.eventbrite.com/

Sign Up now for the Philly Bike-Share Forum

Don’t forget to sign up for the Philly Bike Share Forum, here. forum

MOTU Goes to Washington — Part 2

This is the second post in a 2-part series about MOTU’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Planner, Aaron Ritz’s, recent trip down to Washington, DC to further understand DC’s bikeshare program. If you haven’t already, check-out the first post here

Operator, Operator

After Aaron Ritz experienced some of the features of CaBi first hand, he met with the folks at Alta Bicycle Sharing, the firm that operates the bike sharing system for Washington DC.  As might be expected, operating expenses for bike sharing are quite low when compared with other forms of transit.  The customers provide most of the energy in getting themselves where they want to go, the bikes themselves use no fuel and the kiosks are solar powered, providing enough energy to run the cell-phone based registration system.

ReBalancing Act

That said, bike sharing is a type of transit, and there are costs associated with any system running optimally.  Capital Bikeshare employs 45 people full time to do everything from fixing flat tires to managing the IT demands of the system. The biggest single expense associated with running a first-class bike sharing system is the re-balancing of the bikes throughout the system during the peak commute times.  Every day thousands of commuters head into work in Washington DC by CaBi, leading to an emptying out of bike sharing stations in the outer parts of the city, and a surplus of bikes at workplaces in central DC.  To make sure that the system works well for as many people as possible, CaBi has a small fleet of vans (shown below) that pick up bicycles at full stations and drop them off at empty or close to empty stations.  The operators’ contract states that stations must not be completely empty or full. According to Eric Gilliland, Capital Bikeshare’s general operations manager; the rebalancing trucks are out early in the morning through the late evening hours making sure that bikes are located where people need them when they need them.  Gilliland also has shift dispatchers who monitor system conditions throughout the day in real time, allowing 5 fleet vans to serve nearly 200 stations throughout the system.

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Maintaining the Bicycle Fleet

The bikes themselves require service at regular intervals; tires go flat, chains can break and cables can fray and need replacement.  If a customer has a problem with their bicycle, they simply park it in the nearest dock and press the service key on the dock (the button that looks like a wrench).  The wounded bike then gets locked down and an alert is sent to the dispatcher.  If it is a quick fix, one of the roving mechanics can head to the bike and fix it on the spot, but bigger problems get repaired back at the warehouse.   According to the mechanics, each bike is given a check-up every month to assure that system users have a bike that is safe and fun to ride.

Shown in the photograph below, one of the mechanics describes fixing these heavy duty bikes.  Each repair is a multi-step process since the bike parts are unique to bike sharing bikes and have special theft-resistant features.   From the bolts on the handlebars to the non-removable seat, these bikes are designed to stand up to the rigors of daily use. Gilliland said that most of the the 14 thefts that Capital Bikeshare experienced happened in the first few months of the system opening.  Once thieves figured out that the bikes could not be easily stripped of parts or sold, reports of stolen bikes dropped off.

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Once repaired the bikes are tagged and set aside for redistribution to the stations.

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Expanding the System

Alta Bike Sharing also manages the installation of new CaBi bike sharing stations throughout the system.  When Aaron toured the facility, CaBi was getting ready for an expansion to keep up with demand.  Below is a picture of new bike parking docks ready for installation.

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With all of the excitement of new systems rolling out seemingly every few months, it’s easy to think that bike sharing is obvious or even inevitable.  From the system managers and planners at the District Department of Transportation to the on-the-ground operations experts at Alta Bike Sharing’s Capital Bikeshare group, there is a common sense that that a new way of getting around the city is here to stay.  Three years ago when the Capital Bikesharing rolled out its first 50 stations, success was far from sure.  At that time, only the Montreal, Denver and Minneapolis systems were fully operational. The European examples in Barcelona, Lyon and Paris were still going through significant growing pains as they struggled with reliability and theft.   Even the oldest bike sharing schemes in the world are under 10 years old.

Next Steps

Going forward, we can clearly see that bike sharing is here to stay and will continue to expand as a useful alternative to other forms of transportation in vibrant urban centers, campus settings and even smaller communities.  We can expect the systems to grow, evolve and mature a lot over the next few years.  For our part, Philadelphia has an opportunity to take the best features of the existing systems around the world and create a bike sharing program that meets the needs of residents, employees, students and visitors to our city.   Come join us to learn more at our upcoming forum where we’ll meet representatives from Washington DC along with Boston and Denver as they discuss their successes, and lessons from implementing bike sharing systems in their cities.

MOTU Goes to Washington – Part 1

This is the first post in a 2-part series about MOTU’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Planner, Aaron Ritz’s, recent trip down to Washington, DC to further understand DC’s bikeshare program. 

As Philadelphia moves towards implementing its first bike sharing system by the end of 2014, MOTU is keen to learn the best practices from our peer cities.  On March 15th, MOTU’s Aaron Ritz made a trip to Washington DC to do research on the wildly successful Capital Bikeshare or “CaBi” as it’s known by locals.  Aaron met with representatives from the District Department of Transportation, who manage the financial and planning aspects of the system, Alta Bicycle Sharing, the firm responsible for day-to-day operations and with folks from Metro Bike, the firm responsible for planning the Arlington VA portion of CaBi.  As luck and weather would have it, the day turned out to be a fantastic way to learn about the details of bike sharing while using the system to get around Washington.

Step 1: Check-Out the Bike

Every trip through CaBi starts and ends at one of the 200 or so bike sharing stations.  The bike sharing station shown in the photograph below contains 30 spaces for bikes.  Check-out was intially hindered by trying to use thick gloves on a touch screen but soon enough our intrepid colleague had paid his 1-day pass rate of $7 and was riding through the streets of the District to his first meeting.

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Step 2: Ride the Bike

Once on a bike, it’s important to know where you’re going because trips on CaBi accrue additional costs if bikes are kept out for longer than 30 minutes.  Fortunately, there are handy websites and smartphone apps that allow users to know where they’re going, and to know how many bikes and docking stations are available at each station.

Step 3: Check-In the Bike

One of the system’s potential hassles is arriving at a station that has no bikes when you want one), or having no parking spaces when you need to park your bike. To deal with these issues, the system operators have a 45 person crew working constantly to make sure the bikes are distributed throughout the system evenly.  All the bikes had been checked out by 11:00 in the morning at this station shown below at the Waterfront Metro stop.

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Aaron ran into the opposite problem at his destination; he needed a place to park the bike, but there were no available docks at his destination.  With a quick stop at the kiosk of the full docking station he was able to get an extra 15 minutes of credit for free and was given directions to the next available docking space a few blocks away, and still arrived on time (mostly) to his first meeting.

Lessons Learned:

The lessons learned from this quick test drive are:

    • Bike sharing is easy for day-users and visitors to the system, but really rewards the regular user.  Knowing where the stations are and where to dock your bicycle make the system more valuable.
    • Having regularly spaced and convenient bike sharing stations is important.  While in DC, one is never very far from a station.
    • The website and smartphone apps are invaluable in getting the most out of one’s bike sharing experience.
Stay tuned for the second installment in this series as Aaron learns about the operation of DC’s system with the folks who know it best; the managers, dispatchers, balancers and bike mechanics of Alta Bike Sharing.

Neighboring Cities’ Bikeshare Systems Make Strides

Here at MOTU we are preparing for Philadelphia’s coming bikeshare program by keeping up to date with other programs.  In fact, with new systems coming on line and new records being set in the United States, this spring has proven to be an auspicious time for bike sharing.

Bikeshare Stations Being Installed in NYC

The news media outlets from Philadelphia’s northern neighbor New York City have been buzzing with the first buds of what will be the nation’s largest bike sharing system, Citi Bikes, as it is rolled out throughout lower Manhattan and the inner section of Brooklyn.  Stations have been popping up throughout the planned service area over the past month and New York DOT has released plans for a total of 600 stations with 10,000 bikes when the system is complete. (Image courtesy of Citi Bike)

Capital Bikeshare Sets New Ridership Record Over the Weekend

Meanwhile to our south is the system that has been a national leader in bike sharing.  This weekend, Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC set a new ridership record.  The combination of fantastic spring weather, blossoming cherry trees along the National Mall, a Japanese cultural festival, and a Washington Nationals home game combined into the perfect storm of big red CaBi bikes throughout the District.  Riders made 11,368 trips on Saturday April 13th, topping the previous record set earlier in the week by about 1,500 rides.  The Capital Bikeshare system consists of nearly 200 stations throughout Washington DC, Arlington and Alexandria.  The system is set to add approximately 20 new stations throughout the spring and early summer, expanding its reach to the Montgomery County, Maryland border. (Image courtesy of the Capital Bikeshare Facebook Page)

MOTU Takes a Field Trip!

In preparation for the City of Philadelphia’s upcoming bike sharing system, MOTU’s own Aaron Ritz took a trip to Washington DC last month to experience bike sharing first hand, and learn from the folks who plan and operate the system.  Stay tuned over the next two days as we post his pictures and observations from that trip.

The Philly Bike-Share Forum

forum

Mayor Michael A. Nutter has announced that Philadelphia develop a Bike-Share System that will enable Philadelphians, commuters and visitors to checkout iconic, sturdy bikes from a self-service docking stations and drop it off at another station. With this announcement Philadelphia joins 42 other cities in North America which either have, or are planning to develop, bike-share systems.
Please join The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities on Tuesday April 30th at 6:30 (doors open at 6:00) in the evening to hear presentations from the architects of some of the nation’s best bike sharing systems, hosted by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Come hear representatives from Boston, Denver and Washington DC discuss their experiences developing, launching and operating bike sharing systems in their cities. The forum will conclude with a brief presentation on the City of Philadelphia’s plans to launch a first-class bike sharing system by the end of 2014.

Guest Speakers:
Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities, City of Philadelphia
Nicole Freedman, Executive Director of Boston Bikes
Parry Burnap, Executive Director of Denver Bike Sharing
Chris Holben, Bike Sharing Project Manager, District of Columbia Department of Transportation
Andrew Stober, Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, City of Philadelphia

The forum is made possible with the support of the William Penn Foudnation, Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Tickets are limited and are available here.

Does Bike Share Make Bicycling More Popular?

A neighborhood BIXI Station in Montreal. (Photo Courtesy GoCanada.com)

A neighborhood BIXI Station in Montreal.
(Photo Courtesy GoCanada.com)

When comparing bicycling to driving, there are many benefits to bicycling.  These include health benefits through active transportation, environmental benefits through reduced emissions, and traffic benefits through fewer automobiles on city streets.  However, many people are hesitant to try biking to work, resulting in a small portion of people that ride bicycles regularly.

Bike share represents an opportunity for people to test out bicycling in the city, but there is concern that it will only be used by people who already regularly ride bikes.  As bike share becomes a reality for Philadelphia, it’s important to know whether or not a Bike Share program will actually increase the number of bicyclists in the city.

A recent study examines the ridership levels Montreal’s BIXI Bike Share program over the course of its two-year implementation.  Specifically, the researches investigated whether bike share would affect the number of people that ride bicycles.  Researchers tracked usage among residents at the launch of the program, at the end of its first season, and at the end of its second season.

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The likelihood of bicycle riding has increased in neighborhoods with Bike Share Stations. (Graph Courtesy of The Atlantic Cities)

The results showed that Montreal residents who lived near a BIXI station were not only more likely to ride a bike compared to everyone, but they were also more likely to ride a bike at the end of the second season.  In short, this means that bike share will increase the likelihood of bike riding and not only serve existing cyclists.

The Philadelphia Bike Share program is set for 2014 and if the current bike share trends continue, it is expected to increase active and healthy transportation in the city.  So far, bike share stations will be placed throughout Center City and West Philly, where bicycling is most popular.  Where do you plan on going with Philly’s Bike Share?

Want to know more?

The Full Report: Impact Evaluation of Public Bicycle Share Program on Cycling

The Atlantic Cities: If you Build Bike Share, Riders will Come

Toole Design Group and Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning Selected to Develop Philadelphia Bikeshare Business Plan

Following up on the December 10th announcement of a Request For a Proposals (RFP) for a strategic business plan, consulting, and cost estimate services the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia are happy to announce the team of Toole Design Group and Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning has been selected to develop a business plan for the city’s upcoming bikeshare program.

Image from Toole Design's proposal

Image from Toole Design’s proposal

The Toole Design/Foursquare team impressed the selection committee with their depth of experience working on bikesharing studies, their understanding of Philadelphia’s needs as we move towards a full-scale bikesharing system, and their commitment to move quickly to deliver the project on time. Toole Design has a great deal of experience working in Philadelphia and in bikesharing studies; they were the lead consultants on the Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan and recently completed a national study of bike sharing programs across the United Sates and developed a guide to implementation for the Federal Highway Administration. Foursquare ITP worked on Capital Bikeshare’s expansion to Arlington, VA and has a wealth of experience in cost forecasting for transportation systems. The Toole Design/Foursquare team is already hard at work gathering background information for the business plan and is scheduled to complete the business and strategic plan by the end of April. For more detailed information on the work that Toole/Foursquare will be doing, check out the request for proposals posted here: Philadelphia Bike Share RFP

The business plan produced in this project will allow the City to design a system that is an ideal fit for Philadelphia and starts out on the strongest possible footing. The City is targeting a bikesharing system launch in late summer 2014 and has pledged $3 million towards the capital infrastructure and will be looking to combine private sponsorship, federal and state funds to cover the expected $10 million cost of the proposed 1000-1200 bike system. Stay tuned here for more updates on bikeshare in Philadelphia.

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