Need a Boost? Philly Adding Hundreds of Electric Bikes to Indego Fleet

Indego will be adding 400 white pedal-assist electric bikes around Philadelphia over the summer

What to Know

  • About 400 e-bikes are coming to the streets of Philadelphia as part of the Indego Electric program.
  • A pedal-assisted electric boost helps riders get up to 17 mph while exerting less energy.
  • The white e-bikes will cost an additional 15 cents per minute.

The next time you hop on that Indego bike you could be getting an extra boost thanks the addition of hundreds of e-bikes to its bike-share program.

Starting later this month, Indego will begin adding pedal-assist electric bikes to its fleet of about 1,400 bikes.

“Adding more electric bikes to the fleet will help address several barriers and open the door for new cyclists who may not have considered using Indego before,” Waffiyyah Murray, Better Bike Share Partnership program manager, said.

The Indego Electric bikes, which are white in contrast to the traditional blue bikes, use battery power to give an extra boost each time you pedal.

“Double the power that you put in,” Aaron Ritz, transportation program manager for the City of Philadelphia, said.

The bikes, made by Trek subsidiary BCycle, will top out at 17 mph (below the 20-mph limit the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition said is set by the state) and the motor only runs when you pedal. The bikers, despite the electrical assist, must still adhere to normal bike rules and stay off sidewalks and highways.

The city dispatched 10 e-bikes as part of a pilot program last fall. The four-month trial gave program organizers the chance to ensure they could manage upkeep of the bikes while riders used the bikes thousands of times, Ritz said.

“By any measure, the initial pilot was a success,” Deputy Managing Director for Transportation Michael Carroll said. “We saw that the Indego electric bikes were ridden up to 10 times as often as the standard bikes, and they traveled to every station across the city.”

The nifty technology comes at an extra cost beyond the normal daily, monthly or annual fees. The e-bikes will cost 15 cents per minute (5 cents per minute for ACCESS pass holders) with the extra money going toward operational costs, organizers said. Users can spot an e-bike by finding the green lightning bolt on their app.

Some concerns that could be raised are already being addressed.

Crews will be dispatched to swap out batteries, which last about 30 to 25 miles per charge, to ensure that riders get the full benefit of the motor, Ritz said.

Neither the city or Bike Coalition have heard of any sort of increase in crashes.

“We’ve only heard positive things about it,” Bike Coalition policy manager Randy LoBasso said.

Indego ensures that the bikes are easy to use. For people wanting to learn more, the program offers monthly safety education classes (the next is Sunday in North Philly).

Despite the expansion of e-bikes to the Indego fleet, program organizers say they have no plans at this point to get into the e-scooter game.

The first bikes should start arriving in the next eight days or so and will be added throughout the summer with the goal of having about 400 on the road by the end of summer, Ritz said. Some older traditional bikes will be retired in the process.

Besides the shiny new e-bikes, Indego is also adding 12 new stations to the busiest parts of its system.

Indego, which serves riders form daily commuters to recreation seekers, has served more than 2.6 million trips, equivalent to 28 round trips to the moon (or as Indego says in Philly speak, “burned 1.4 million soft pretzels worth of calories”) since it began a little more than four years ago.

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