[Ed. note: Over the next several weeks, we’re going to be introducing you to members of our Better Bike Share Partnership Street Team. This is the first of those profiles, which can also be found over at iBikePHL.org.]
A member of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Better Bike Share Street Team, Chad Eason has been working with a small crew in local communities to introduce Philadelphia’s new bike share system, and answer any questions locals may have. In that time, he’s worked in dozens of neighborhoods with the team and participated in as many community events, to show off the city’s new public transportation system. We asked him to reflect on what that experience has been like, so far.
What got you interested in bike share in the first place?
I did not know we were getting a bike share until a friend of mine sent me a link for this job. Then, I was really intrigued about Bike Share and wondered how it would work. At the same time, I thought adding more bikers to the road would be great since my wife and I both ride and, on many occasions, are toting our children with us.
The more bikers on the road, the safer we become. It’s pretty easy to snap one branch in half, but when you put ten branches together it becomes a lot harder. Bike Share adds about 600 branches to the mix! Ultimately bike share could be the thing that revolutionizes Philadelphia and makes the bicycling culture become a pillar of the city and not just something health nuts or millennials are doing.
How do you feel the Better Bike Share partnership has influenced Philly’s bike share launch?
I feel like it greatly influenced the launch. The Better Bike Share Partnership has bound together a variety of strong advocates, businesses and organizations that are tied to bicycles. Some of these groups are pretty close and some loosely connected, but the BBSP put us in stew that has become very rich and flavorful and yielded some pretty impressive statistics of bike share usage in the city thus far.
What’s been your most rewarding moment so far?
My most rewarding time so far has been a Mural celebration in South Philly. We have a station at 18th and Fernon. The Aquinas center commissioned a mural that starts at one end of Fernon and stretches to the other end of the block. The spokesperson for the Aquinas center expressed how this mural represented the neighborhood reclaiming the block that had visibly been affected by blight and dumping and other urban problems many of our neighborhoods experience. It also celebrated the variety of ethnic groups and heritages in the neighborhood and anchored one end with the beginnings of the mural. It would continue to stretch and grow the length of the block to the other end, anchored by the Bike Share station.
Who do you think is benefitting most from the Better Bike Share partnership?
People in neighborhoods outside Center City benefit the most. They get brand new stations and bikes in their neighborhoods. This could seem intrusive, but the steps the Better Bike Share Partnership has taken in order to reach these neighborhoods and give them a voice displays that the City is investing in all neighborhoods from the get-go, unlike other bike share programs throughout the nation.
Why is the Better Bike Share partnership so important for Philly?
Philly needs options. I have friends that live in Fairmount and they own cars, but never move them after 4 pm. On special days like races or regattas, there have even more problems trying to find parking spaces. As more and more people move to this city and rehab old homes or build new ones on vacant lots, our roads become more congested.
Philadelphia is already the most bicycle friendly city in the country and we need to pave another option for major cities in the USA where having two cars or even any car is no longer a requirement. We need to make Bike Share the standard instead of a trend so our whole city can set an example for how to frame a better urban living experience.