The 2023 Indego Bike Share Equity Plan Is Here

by Kiran Herbert, Communications Manager

This five-year plan is intended to establish a path for Philadelphia’s bike share system to continue to grow and operate in an equitable manner.

Yesterday, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS) and Indego, the city’s bike share system, released their  2023 Indego Equity Plan. This five-year plan provides a look back on best practices that the system has developed and establishes a path for Indego to continue leading the way when it comes to equitable bike share growth and operation.

“Indego continues to provide Philadelphians with new, safe, and sustainable options to get where they need to. This is critical to driving inclusive growth and access to opportunity to build a thriving economy that benefits everyone,” says Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “I’m proud of the work of the City, Bicycle Transit Systems staff, Independence Blue Cross, partners, and community leaders to ensure that the investments we are making in bike share will benefit all Philadelphians regardless of race, age, or zip code through the Indego Equity Plan.”  

The Indego Equity Plan builds on a substantial foundation of previous work to envision, launch, and expand the Indego system in an equitable way. Since its launch, Indego has partnered with BBSP to understand the barriers behind the utilization of bike share in low-income and communities of color. This partnership empowered Indego to be the first Living Lab, developing strategies and tactics to address those barriers, collecting data to assess change, and working to institutionalize replicable approaches for other bike share systems.

When the Indego system was first launched in 2015, one-third of its stations were placed in low-income communities. To reach people in these communities, Indego has worked each year with a team of Community Ambassadors who help residents understand the benefits of bike share, educate folks on how to use Indego, and collect feedback on the barriers to access.

Indego also introduced a discounted pass for PA ACCESS cardholders and became the first bike share program in the country to have an automated cash payment option available to any resident, regardless of income. Since its launch, Indego has had more than 10,000 Access Pass signups and this past January, 15% of trips were taken by Access Pass holders. To break down other barriers, Indego has worked with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia as a key partner to lead community group rides and offer a suite of free education classes.

“In a city as culturally and financially diverse as Philadelphia, any plan to improve the quality and access of transportation options should have true equity at its core. This involves developing and implementing plans that prioritize the needs of citizens, views them through their lenses, and meets them where they are in order to improve much-needed services,” says Tonnetta Graham, executive director of Strawberry Mansion CDC and a former Indego Community Ambassador. Whether that involves education, access, or affordability, Indego has always been committed to evaluating its policy and practices to ensure fairness throughout its system.”

Fostering equity is an ongoing effort that is a process rather than a destination. As the Indego system continues to grow and the responsibilities of system partners evolve, it is important to cultivate a shared culture of diversity, equity inclusion, and justice. A successful bike share program depends on funding, infrastructure that encourages bike riding, and support from community members. These elements reinforce each other and provide crucial pillars for the foundation of a successful bike share program.

Those pillars are reflected in these five goals defined in the 2023 Indego Equity Plan:

  • 1. Indego will improve transportation access for all people, with particular attention to people who are BIPOC and people facing economic challenges.
  • 2. Indego’s pricing structure will make the system financially accessible to people with economic challenges.
  • 3. Indego will reduce non-financial barriers to ridership and barriers to entry, especially in historically marginalized communities and among all eligible age groups, including seniors 62+ and youth 14 – 21.
  • 4. Indego will continue to prioritize community partnerships and relationships so that marginalized communities can influence decisions related to Indego in a way that addresses their needs and concerns.
  • 5. Indego’s workforce, including its managing team at both Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS) and the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS), will include demographic diversity and diverse perspectives and experiences.

“It is important for Indego to release this Equity Plan to show not only our continued commitment to equity, but also the important role each and every partner plays in contributing to the success of our bike share program,” says 
Indego Program Manager Waffiyyah Murray.

Over the next five years, new stations will continue to be added to low-income and communities of color, and Indego and the City are committed to targeting engagement and outreach in these communities. Indego and OTIS will track certain equity performance metrics to infer success in achieving the goals laid out in the Indego Equity Plan.  

“I’m incredibly proud to be a part of a team that is committed to running an equitable bike share system,” says Indego General Manager Nate Bowman-Johnston. “This is distinctive of Indego and something that sets us apart from many other bike share systems. Equity shows up in every aspect of our work from how we hire and promote employees to where we install new bike share stations to how we engage staff around social justice issues to our bike share pass and fee structure.”

As the Indego system continues to grow and the responsibilities of system partners evolve, it will work to deepen a shared culture of equity. Through implementing this plan, Indego will continue to work towards increasing representation, building a stronger culture of inclusion, and using an equity lens to examine organizational and programmatic initiatives to create a bike share program that all Philadelphians feel is for them and benefits their communities. By doing so, Indego hopes to fulfill its original mission: to be a resource that connects community members with each other and with all that Philadelphia has to offer.

View the full 2023 Indego Equity Plan, as well as executive summaries in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. BBSP is proud to partner with Indego and the City of Philadelphia — we hope this equity plan will serve as inspiration and guidance for systems everywhere.