Coming soon to a street corner near you — bikes for rent.
The city of Philadelphia will be launching its very own bike-sharing program this spring, akin to those already running in New York City and Washington, D.C. Unique to Philly will be the pricing scheme and, hopefully, the incomes of the customer base.
Official pricing and final locations are set to be announced in the coming weeks. Currently the expected on-campus locations are at 36th and Sansom streets, 40th and Spruce streets, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard and at Clark Park on 44th Street and Baltimore Avenue.
“We want to give people choices that are logical and allow for a low barrier of entry,” said Aaron Ritz, the Bicycle Programs manager for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities.
Unlike New York’s Citi bike program, which charges an annual rate of over $100 and requires a credit card deposit, Philly’s Indego will provide daily, weekly and monthly options, with the latter two payable by cash.
Organizers are hopeful that multi-tiered pricing will allow for both leisure rides and the use of the bikes as a way to commute. "One thing we’re doing that other cities have not is promoting bite-sized chunks that are affordable,” Ritz said. “Say you were like me when I was at Penn and you live in South Philly and want to get to campus. I was commuting three to four times a week. I would’ve bought the monthly membership and rode when I needed to.”
As for Penn students, many of whom are infrequent commuters around Philadelphia, the program will compete against other low-cost transportation options like SEPTA and personal bikes.
“I guess it depends on how the program is ultimately structured,” College senior Chris Black said. “If it’s like a personal transit system, I think it makes more sense to buy a cheap bike. That said, I don’t have a bike in the city and could see myself using a day pass from time to time.”
Another socially conscious innovation is the program’s use of private sponsorship to avoid the need for a credit card deposit, a requirement in many other bike sharing programs in the United States. The name Indego was chosen by the program’s primary sponsor Independence Blue Cross after an $8.5 million contribution. The city will provide $3 million for bikes and stations, and any remaining costs will be covered by state and federal sources.
Local businesses are enthusiastic about the program. “I’d like to think it will allow people to see how bike-friendly Philly has become,” Jordan Czajka, the service manager of Keswick Cycle said. “The more people riding, and the safer they are, the better. If cars see more bikes, then that’s good advocacy”Comments powered by Disqus
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