Digital Skills Bicycle Thrills Uses Bike Share to Grow Workforce Development

by Farrah Daniel, Better Bike Share Partnership Writer

Source: Digital Skills Bicycle Thrills

Access to bike share begets increased opportunities — thanks to an unburdened and affordable way to get around town — and part of what the City of Philadelphia’s Digital Skills Bicycle Thrills (DSBT) program plans to do in 2020 is to provide participants some of the skills needed to thrive as they chase their professional aspirations. 

We’ve covered this program extensively but as a refresher, DSBT combines the efforts of the City of Philadelphia Office of Adult Education, Indego and the Better Bike Share Partnership to connect residents in some low-income and marginalized communities to bike share and computer literacy, including the digital skills required to navigate both. 

The month-long program includes weekly self-paced online lessons about bicycle safety, group rides, access to a computer lab, weekly discussions, and now, a new approach to gainful employment. 

Every year, DSBT hosts two cohorts between April and July. Followed by the completion of each cohort is a survey that, among other things, asks participants what they feel could make the program better.

The most popular answer? Lessons in how their newfound digital skills can be applied to give them a leg up in the job force. 

Shortly thereafter, Waffiyyah Murray and other staff rolled out a pilot of sorts to get a feel for how participants would respond. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, so the decision to make the workforce component an official part of the program wasn’t a hard one. 

With the help of Bria Spivey, formerly the Digital Engagement Manager for the Office of Innovation & Technology at the Office of Adult Education, the DSBT skills program welcomed an optional LinkedIn training workshop. Part of the modern professional landscape is the need — or requirement — of proficiency in technology. Whether it’s understanding social media or comfortability using electronic devices, digital skills are essential. 

Spivey guided participants through the process of understanding the professional networking site, starting with setting up a profile page. The lessons also included background information on what LinkedIn is, how to use it and connect with people, plus how to get the most out of the tool and ways to make it most advantageous. 

Source: Digital Skills Bicycle Thrills

At the end of each cohort, a closing celebration is held for all the graduates, where Murray says they “gather everyone to say ‘Congratulations! You all did an amazing job, this is how much you’ve ridden, and here are some highlights of the season. We also give them time to share personal reflections about the program, we give them a certificate, and we let them know their [Indego] membership will continue for another six months.” 

With the implementation of the workforce component, this year’s closing celebrations included a headshot station. A professional photographer took free headshots for any graduate who was interested, and they were encouraged to share their new photos on their LinkedIn, Facebook, or other professional profiles. 

In 2020, the workforce component of DSBT will become permanent. While further developments may be on the horizon, one thing that’s staying the same is the optional aspect. “We wanted to add it in a way that wasn’t too much of a burden for people,” says Murray, so the classes will continue to be flexible, in-person, and available to all. 

To pull this off, Murray, Spivey, and all the DSBT partners had to “come together as a team,” which is quite evident in the fact that the professional photographer, Shawn Wilson, chosen for the most recent cohort was also a team member. 

Access to bike share is transformational and boosting the confidence of its members as they approach employment is just one benefit of the many associated with it. As DSBT grows, its graduates grow, too. 

How has the bike share system(s) in your community created an avenue for you or your neighbors?

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