The Personal Successes of Digital Skills Bicycle Thrills

by: Farrah Daniel, Better Bike Share Partnership Writer

Digital Skills Bicycle Thrills and programs just like it are a great way to bridge the gap between access and opportunity in underserved communities. Today, we’re telling the stories of two participants of the program who walked away with more than they could have imagined. 

Source: Indego Bike Share

Digital Skills Bicycle Thrills (DSBT) has been serving Philadelphian underserved communities since 2016. The city recognized a great need to connect residents to bike share and computer literacy, so a partnership was formed between the City of Philadelphia Office of Adult Education, Indego and the Better Bike Share Partnership to create access to both.

In past articles, we’ve written about how the bike safety certification program teaches adults in some low-income and marginalized communities the digital skills needed to better access and understand Indego’s bike share system. 

Over the course of a month, participants learn through self-paced online assignments, weekly discussions and hosted group rides. In exchange, they receive a free six-month Indego membership. 

Today, DSBT continues to improve as program leaders develop fresh ways to uplift the community, including the implementation of a new workforce skills component we’ll be covering soon. 

In the meantime, I talked to two former DSBT participants who completed the program and still incorporate the skills they learned and the convenience of Indego bike share in their daily lives. 

Demetrius Coleman

Source: Indego Bike Share

Coleman wasted no time diving into the DSBT curriculum. “That very night, after the first class, I went home and started doing homework,” he said while laughing. 

Before learning about the program, Coleman was already planning on getting back on his bike when an email from a nearby learning center about DSBT gave him the push he needed to follow through.  

The biggest draw, he said, was the group rides, but he quickly grew to cherish the program for the many ways it positively influenced his life and the wonderful people he got to meet along the way. 

Part of DSBT’s initiative is providing its participants with public access to computers, thus erasing the barriers to a physical location where people can complete assignments, sign up for Indego and ask questions about the program. 

He had his own computer, but Coleman found having a place to gather to be incredibly convenient and beneficial — working through the course with other students and feeling a part of the community enriched his experience. 

Together, Coleman and his classmates tackled the course material. DSBT lessons imparted knowledge about digital literacy and street safety: how to plan a route in Google Maps, rules of cycling in the street alongside traffic, understanding street signs, bike lane laws and more. 

Aside from learning how to get around safely in his community, Coleman appreciated the opportunity DSBT gave him to explore it in a new way, too. “I gained knowledge about my neighborhood,” he shared, explaining how neat it was to discover Boxers Trail and the famous Strawberry Mansions near Fairmount Park in North Philadelphia. 

After completing the course, Coleman learned about the Indego Bike Champions program and the Philly Free Streets scavenger hunt, which both reward participants with free Indego memberships. Added to the six-month membership from DSBT and the free rides earned from the IndeHero program, Coleman has nearly two years of free rides with Indego. 

Coupled with convenience, the membership has already proved to be quite beneficial to Coleman. “Oh my goodness, I lost about 15 to 20 pounds!” he said, excitedly. “Every time I got home from work, I’d grab my bike and go on the trail. I’ve spent a lot of time on Boxers Trails over the last few months.”

Charolyn Mosley

Charolyn Mosley, DSBT partcipant

Charolyn Mosley, on the other hand, had grown accustomed to spotting Indego’s blue bikes around town, but never knew much about them. 

It had been years since she rode a bike, so when she learned about the skills program on Facebook, it immediately piqued her interest. “I thought the program could help sharpen my skills and help me learn to ride in the city,” wrote Mosley in an email. 

DSBT introduced her to concepts she was unfamiliar with, including ways she could partner technology with bike riding. 

When asked about the curriculum, this is what she shared: 

“The assignments flowed easily and weren’t too cumbersome. Our instructor was very encouraging and supportive. If you didn’t know the information or made a mistake, it was easy to revisit the material and correct yourself. It was also fun to see your classmates chiming in on various topics. The quick turnaround with the grading was an incentive to do your work because of the pride and motivation it created to instantly see how well you were progressing.”

Just like Coleman, the riding opportunities found in the skills program encouraged Mosley to be more active. In fact, she says her Indego membership increased her physical activities, built her confidence and created opportunities to ride when she didn’t have them before.

Presently, Mosley still uses Indego to get around town. “I now appreciate and realize the value of Indego. Bike riding enriches your life!”

How has learning about and using bike share enhanced yours? 

The Better Bike Share Partnership is a JPB Foundation-funded collaboration between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter. Story tip? Write farrah@peopleforbikes.org