indego-bikesBy: Pilar Ocampo

I awoke yesterday morning determined not to let the Septa strike get the best of me. As a public health fellow for Get Healthy Philly I thought today would be a great time to take advantage of a resource we promote every day, Indego Bike Share.

I’ve used Indego once before for a leisure ride on MLK drive, however I never thought I would be biking to work. While the idea of being one of those health-conscious, eco-friendly people who bike to work is appealing, the reality of biking always seemed like too much for me.

After all, I’m not a confident cyclist and can barely ride over a crack without fear of falling. In fact, the thought of biking down Broad St amongst all the cars makes me fear for my life. Today, though was my opportunity to just go for it.

I Googled “Indego Philadelphia”, downloaded the app  and walked only 6 minutes from my house to the Indego dock at Fresh Grocer on Broad and Oxford. I called up a friend who also works in Center City and convinced her to meet for a morning ride. We chose the $4 per every 30 minutes flat rate option and off we went.

My fear of Broad Street led us to a parallel street which we rode down all the way to 12th and Filbert (essentially traffic-less). We each laughed about how we enjoyed the ride much more than anticipated. Between the open air, the adrenaline, the endorphins and knowing I was getting a workout at the same time was enough to get me hooked.

Center City bike docks during a SEPTA strike were quite full, so I called Indego’s help center. The service rep understood my frustration. As she refreshed her system in real time, she was able to tell me exactly where there were open docks. She stayed on the phone as I traveled to the next dock she suggested in Chinatown, and immediately found a spot not only for myself, but for my friend also. After all that, our rides were only 32 minutes long, still within the 30-minute grace period of the $4 rate, she assured me.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised that I could learn to enjoy biking in the city, and despite minor logistical issues from a the surge of riders impacted by the SEPTA strike Indego’s  customer service was impeccable. I find myself with  unintended consequences of the SEPTA Strike: a new comfort in biking to work.