Dear Indego Riders, Please Don’t Give Philly Cyclists a Bad Rap
First, before you all go full-on caps on me in the comments section, screaming at me for trying to take down a resource that is great for the city, let me say: I love Indego. I have been super excited for the arrival of Philly’s bike share for years now, and now that it’s here, I think it’s a great addition to the city for both everyone who lives here and for folks who come to visit. So let’s be clear: My beef is not with Indego. My beef is with reckless Indego riders.
The other day, as I was walking to work, I was about to take my first step across a crosswalk when the woman ahead of me jumped back, practically knocking me over. Why? A rider on an Indego bike had sped through the intersection — across Market Street during rush hour — after the light turned red. The rider didn’t look super confident, like they knew they had enough to time to cross. It seemed to be more of a “Jesus, take the wheel” moment. As they sped through a group of pedestrians who’d begun crossing the street, the rider nearly took one — the woman walking in front of me — out.
After bumping into me, the woman turned around, rolled her eyes and stared at me for a second, and I realized, we were having a bonding moment: I’m pretty sure she was thinking “Fucking bikers, man,” and she thought I was, too. But I wasn’t. I was thinking “Man, that Indego rider is making Philly bikers look bad.” And that was when I realized: While Indego’s existence will undoubtedly do great things to improve conditions for biking in Philly — after all, more cyclists on the roads means a greater push for bike-friendly infrastructure like protected bike lanes — people who hop on bikes after years of not using one and head straight to traffic-packed city streets have the potential to give all city bikers a bad name. (Or, maybe I should say an even worse name, since many drivers already think city bikers are terrible, street-hogging humans to begin with.)
I was hesitant to write this piece, mostly because I thought maybe it was just me. Maybe I’d just happened to see a lot of Indego riders riding recklessly: a couple using both lanes to ride against traffic up 18th street (why?), a rider nearly causing a crash while crossing traffic without thinking to look around first, people riding on busy sidewalks, and the stories go on. But when I mentioned that I thought I’d seen a lot of Indego riders doing things so wrong during a morning meeting at the office, there were plenty of nods and more stories to tell.
It makes sense: With 600 new bikes and over 6,000 new riders on the streets of Philly, you’re bound to run into some folks who haven’t ridden a bike in a city in a long time — or ever. Everyone was a new city rider at some point and getting used to traveling on a thing with two wheels and no side mirrors isn’t easy. I get that.
And being a person who bikes around the city myself, I am very much aware that there are plenty of careless regular ol’ Schwinn riders out there, too. There are going to be jerks on the road no matter what. But with the influx of riders on the streets thanks to Indego, we have a chance to prove to everyone — drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists alike — that more bikers on city streets is a good thing. Or, all these new bikers on the streets can do the opposite and give people walking to work and driving down 18th Street the idea that all city bikers are reckless jerks.
So I’m not saying “Don’t use Indego.” Please do! What I’m saying is, use some common sense. Don’t ride the wrong direction on a one-way street, don’t run over pedestrians if you can help it, read up on some Philly-specific biking tips before you hop in the saddle, and try your best not to give Philly cyclists a bad rap. From what I’ve seen, some of you could try a bit harder.
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