After we downsized and moved to an apartment in downtown Philly, Mrs. FF and I had little room to store bikes. She has her cheapo bike locked outside in our covered parking space, but there’s no room for another bike for me.
So I decided to try Philly’s bike share – Indego. It costs $144 a year for unlimited rides for up to 1 hour per ride. I love it! The engineer in me likes the idea of bike sharing because it’s a more efficient way to use bikes. Why does everyone need their own commuter bike when we can all share? I also never have to deal with maintenance or worry about locking the bike because I always dock it at a station.
It comes with an easy-to-use key fob so I can walk up to a station, adjust a bike, check it out, and start riding in about 15 seconds. And there’s a bike station less than 100 yards from our apartment!
On a typical day, I pull a bike from my home station, ride to the Central Library for free books, and quickly check the bike back in. Then I can go to the library, leave, wander around the city for fun, pull a bike from a completely different station and ride some more. It’s a real sense of freedom here in the big city!
Indego has a problem though. Sometimes bike stations are full so riders can’t check in a bike and other times stations are empty so riders can’t checkout a bike. Indego has these cute white vans that drive around and try to balance the system by loading and unloading bikes to a station, but the vans can’t always keep up especially during rush hour. There’s an app with a map and status of the stations, but it’s still inconvenient when you can’t use a station you want.
Indego has another solution to help with the station-balancing problem. They’ll give you points for returning a bike to an empty station and pulling a bike from a full station. If you earn 100 points, you get a free day added to your pass which is worth a grand total of 40 cents. You can earn between 25 and 100 points every time you help balance a station.
I’ve earned over 10,000 points or $40 so far. This is a lot of work – I have to monitor stations, walk between stations, pull a bike, ride while avoiding being killed by Crazy Car Clowns*. Rinse. Repeat.
Why do I do it for such a pittance? Because it’s my idea of the PERFECT volunteer opportunity:
- It helps something that I truly believe in – bikeshare.
- I get some free outdoor exercise.
- I save a little money by earning points which appeals to my freaky frugal nature.
- It’s fun!
Part of being Freaky Frugal is figuring out what to do with your time after becoming financially independent. Everybody wants meaning in their lives. My small contribution to Indego is one way for me to find some meaning.
Thanks for reading! Do you have a bikeshare in your city? What are some of your own awesome volunteer experiences?
* Car Clowns is a term created by the great Mr. Money Mustache. It refers to people who use cars when they could be walking or biking instead. In Philly, there are a lot of crazy drivers, so I refer to them as Crazy Car Clowns.