By Stefani Cox
Stephanie Ridgeway may be new to working at the City of Philadelphia, but she’s certainly not new to bike share or community engagement.
Stephanie recently started as the Indego Community Coordinator for the City’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems. A former Indego ambassador herself, Stephanie has lots of ideas for reaching people of all backgrounds.
Here’s our interview to learn more about Stephanie’s work and history:
Where are you coming to Better Bike Share work from?
My past work history was in the world of academia. I was the student advisor for Temple University’s criminal justice department. I’ve been a community block captain for the Brewerytown Sharswood civic association, and also on the neighborhood advisory subcommittee. I worked closely with the neighborhood advisory committee to develop programs that would help the community out. Most recently, I worked with the Lower North Philly community development corporation.
The theme I would like to work with this year is “community-based.” I’m hoping to really give people an idea of what Indego is and how people can help with this plan. Prior I was an Indego ambassador for Brewerytown Sharswood neighborhood advisory committee, so I have experience firsthand with what bike share does.
Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been doing so far on the job and what’s on the horizon?
Right now we’re working on getting the 2018 Indego ambassadors up and running. The program will run from February through October of this year. It entails getting communities involved in providing ambassadors and, in turn, hosting rides that get the information out to everyone. We’re helping people understand that there is an equity in the community in terms of the bike share program. It’s not just for recreation; it’s a means of transportation.
I took the word community and turned it into “coming out mixing moving and uniting neighborhoods.” We’re working now to come up with a flyer that will post that information out to prospective people being ambassadors. That way, as they move forward they will have an idea of what they’ll be doing. You have to think about how to get people to be interested. It’s all about motion, but motion with a purpose, motion with a destination. It’s about making people understand that there is so much to be done with one vehicle.
Why is transportation equity work important to you?
In the overall picture, when you have a community that has access to get from point A to point B, that opens the door to people realizing they are not stuck looking for a job in a certain area. We want to make it really clear that this is something for everyone as the world moves toward more efficient transportation modes, because of greenhouse gases and all the other things that are going on. The question is how does the city change the carbon footprint for everyone?
What are you most excited about in your outreach work?
I think across the board I’m really interested in working with everyone to see what they’re bringing to the table. There’s a strong health aspect to generate with just a little bit of a push. You can change your life dramatically. Healthcare is expensive and prevention is the key; why not make biking a part of your everyday life?
What do you see as some of the biggest challenges in this work?
Acquisition. The world is very diverse, and to get that information across requires an ear that can answer and understand in several different languages. It’s necessary now.
What is your superpower skill that you bring to transportation equity work?
I’m a communicator. I feel strongly about being able to get someone’s attention and articulating exactly what it is that I’m trying to get across. A lot of times when people do outreach it can be hard to be pointed about what you want to get across. I am very comfortable with that.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Philly—I left and came back. I’ve lived all over. I was a load master in the military, so I calculated the weight and balance for tailhooks that landed on aircraft carriers.
I think the biggest thing for me is that this position is a chance to experience something I’ve wanted for a very long time—to connect what you love to what you are actually doing. I’ve always loved biking. Now I get to do that for my job.
The Better Bike Share Partnership is funded by The JPB Foundation as a collaborative between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter. Story tip? Write firstname.lastname@example.org.