Divvy rolls into Chicago

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Full Divvy bike dock at Michigan Avenue and Pearson Street, outside of Watertower Place.

Full Divvy bike dock at Michigan Avenue and Pearson Street, outside of Water Tower Place.

Chicago’s bike sharing program Divvy has seen great success since its July launch

There’s a hot new set of wheels that’s been on the minds of Chicagoans all summer but it’s no fancy car, it’s a Divvy bike.

Chicago’s bike share program launched in July and since has captured the attention of Chicagoans and tourists alike, with more than 550,000 trips, an estimated 1.4 million mi ridden, according to Elliot Greenberger, marketing manager for Divvy.

“We’re thrilled with the way Chicago has embraced Divvy so far,” Greenberger said.

How Divvy Works
Divvy bikes are meant for short trips around the city, ideal for short commutes or trips.

Riders can choose from a 24-hour pass for $7 or a yearly membership for $75.

For the 24-hour pass, riders use their debit or credit cards to receive a code to unlock a bike from the dock. Bikes can be returned to any dock around the city, provided there’s an open space. To use a Divvy again in the 24-hour period, use the same card to receive a new code for the bikes. Cards will not be charged again.

For both one-day and annual members, bikes can only be undocked for 30 minutes at a time. If the bikes are in use for more than 30 minutes, overage fees will be charged to the debit or credit card used.

Overage fees are as follows:

  • 31 – 60 minute rides – $2 fee
  • 61 – 90 minute rides – $6 fee
  • 90 minutes + – $8 fee/30 minutes over

Chicago’s reception to Divvy
Bike share programs have become increasingly popular throughout the US, with New York’s Citi Bikes launching this past May, but not without their problems.

In August, a judge ruled against a Lakeview three-unit condo building’s request to remove a dock from the north side of the building at Addison Street and Pine Grove Avenue, according to a Chicago Tribune report. The condo association’s president claimed the station was leading to crowding in front of the building while his wife worried about the station decreasing the property value.

Many Divvy riders, most of whom aren’t seasoned Chicago cyclists, are guilty of many cardinal sins of biking in the city, most notably riding the bikes on the sidewalk, an unsafe practice for riders and pedestrians.

“It’s unfortunately inevitable that Divvy riders feel entitled to ride on  sidewalks alongside roads and just about every other thoroughfare in the city,” Julian Zeng, 23, Lakeview resident, said. “But that’s less of a complaint with Divvy than with people. However, I still think it’s a great way to get around, it really makes a lot of sense for such a sightsee-able place.”

Other major complaints include lack of stations, glitches with payments and full stations when docking, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Greenberger insists  the program hasn’t had many problems, but acknowledges the complaints many have regarding the pricing model.

“We’ve heard complaints about the fact that we charge overtime fees for trips longer than 30 minutes, but the fact is 97 percent of trips are less than 30 minutes,” Greenberger said.

Divvy payment station at the Witon Avenue and Diversey docking station.

Divvy payment station at the Witon Avenue and Diversey docking station.

The Future of Divvy
As Chicago approaches winter, Divvy doesn’t plan much of a cool down. According to Greenberger, bikes will be available throughout the winter with a reduced fleet of bikes to “match lower ridership.”

By the end of this month, Divvy will reach its goal of installing 300 docking stations throughout the city with another 100 stations planned for installation in spring of 2014.

The program has been actively involved in other facets of the city as well, partnering with local businesses like Hotel Felix, Intelligentsia a Project Fixup.

I think once every Divvy station is in operation, it could be a really successful venture for the city,” Zeng said. “It could become one of the main modes of transportation.”

Green dots represent stations currently operational, red dots represent planned stations

Green dots represent stations currently operational, red dots represent planned stations. Click through for more information

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