Divvy bikes are taking over Chicago! On Wednesday, I had plans with my friend Sara for dinner and a movie after work. Just that morning, I saw a brand new Divvy station near my home and before heading out to meet Sara, I realized that I could easily Divvy the whole night long.
There’s the starting Divvy station:
The Divvy station across the street from the restaurant:
And the Divvy station a block from the movie theater:
Here’s Sara with her Divvy-colored Pashley. :-)
And coming full circle at the end of the night, I returned my Divvy.
I’m excited as new stations continue to pop up daily.
Chicago announced its plan for a large scale bike share system almost two years ago. After a long wait, the system – now called Divvy – went live on Friday!
Only a fraction of the stations are open during the first phase – none near my home – but many others are scheduled to open soon. A total of 4000 bikes at 400 stations is planned for the first two years.
Even though I have my own bikes, I became a member. I anticipate Divvy being useful when:
I want to bike to a bar and cab or transit home.
I take the L in the morning due to rain but the sun is shining by the end of the day.
I don’t want to leave my bike locked outside for an extended period of time.
I need to get to court or a meeting during the middle of the day and taking my bike out of my office and down the elevator would be too much trouble.
I want to travel with a friend who does not have her own bike.
The annual membership is only $75 and includes unlimited, free 30 minute rides. Daily passes are available for only $7.
While Divvy will be useful to me personally, I’m most excited about the system because I believe it will radically change the culture of Chicago for the better. I was skeptical of bike share until I saw how Velib is used by everyone in Paris. Now I am anxious to see the same happen in Chicago. The more people ride bikes, the more people will understand what it’s like to ride a bike. Empathy from Chicago drivers – imagine that!
Here’s a quick video I made of the process to join Divvy with an overview of the website. I will make a video of using the system soon.
Yesterday morning on Cup of Jo, I read about a totally new kind of bike rental/bike share system, Spinlister, described as airbnb for bicycles. The idea is to rent a bike from an individual, paying substantially lower rates than you would at a traditional bike rental company. The site is currently live for NYC and San Fran.
The best thing about this system is the available selection of unique bicycles, much better than the usual crappy hybrids offered by bike rental shops. A quick look at the site shows a fun collection of bikes, including the ones below.
a Batavus Old Dutch:
a sweet vintage mixte:
and a fixie:
I think this is a cool idea with a lot of potential, although arranging to meet up with an individual to pick up a bike may be too much trouble for a one-day rental.
Would you consider using this system while visiting another city? Would you offer your bike up for rental??? I don’t think I would be willing to hand over my bikes to complete strangers.
I’m back in Chicago! Can you believe it’s November already?
During my Denver vacation, I spent a day in nearby Fort Collins, Colorado. Melissa, Chanh, Mr. Dottie, and I went on a bike tour of the city’s breweries. Melissa mapped out an ambitious plan to hit all seven, but a late start, early return time for the bikes, and a lot of beer sampling lowered that number to three.
Our first stop was the Fort Collins Bike Library to pick up free bikes. That’s right: free. The Bike Library is a non-profit that lends out bikes like a library (get it?).
The Bike Library is located in a small hut in the middle of the downtown pedestrian plaza. Once we signed a waiver and provided credit card information, we were free to pick out the bikes. Many were unrideable due to needed repairs, but lucky for us, several were left in good condition.
I scored a Jamis Commuter, the first bike I owned as an adult. This was a very nice version, complete with 8-geared internal hub, chain guard, fenders and generator lights, although it made a crazy noise and the fenders were bent up.
Melissa tried out the bakfiets (awesome!)…
But went with a cute blue cruiser.
Chanh and Greg chose/were left with red single speeds.
Our second stop was CooperSmith’s Brewery, since it is next to the Bike Library and has a pub where we could eat lunch. Also, beer!
Then we set off down the road to our next stop, Odell Brewing. The ride was quick, but most of the route was along the shoulder of a two-way street with faster traffic. Someone with less experience riding among traffic may not be totally comfortable with this route (along Lincoln) but we found a more enjoyable back-streets route for the return trip.
The beer at Odell was AMAZING! Easily among the best beer I’ve ever had, especially the Bourbon Barrel Stout.
Imagine my surprise when I visited the main page of the Chicago Tribune this evening and saw the big lead story: City to rent thousands of bicycles. Apparently, city officials just announced plans for a large scale bike-sharing system. Oh yes yes yes!!
Mr. Dottie uses Paris's Velib bike-sharing system
The system is still in the planning stages and a company has not yet been picked to implement it, but it’s expected to start in the summer of 2012, with 3,000 bikes at 300 stations around the city, most 1/4 of a mile apart in the most dense areas. By 2014, the city hopes to add 2,000 more bikes and 200 more stations. The system will pay for itself with membership fees (only $75/year with the first 30 minutes free) and sponsorships, along with federal congestion-relief funding.
I love the messaging going out to explain the system. The article starts thusly:
Transferring from a train to a bus stuck in traffic is often the most frustrating and slowest way to finish a commute, prompting Chicago officials on Wednesday to start the wheels rolling on a new “transit option.”
Discussing how the bike share system will be aimed at all citizens, even those who do not currently ride a bike, the new transportation director, Gabe Klien, says “We view it as a basic form of transportation, but also a fun way to get around.” The article also compares it to the beloved i-Go car-sharing system, which will help regular people understand how a bike-share could be useful to them.
The article’s description of the bikes made me chuckle, because it totally mirrors what’s so great about my Dutch bike.
‘The new bikes will have an upright seating position for riders, a step-through frame to make mounting and dismounting easy, wide tires and a built-in LED-lighting system,’ he said. Other features will include at least three gear speeds, cushioned seats, chain guards to keep lubricant off clothing and fenders above both wheels to prevent water on the pavement from splashing onto the riders.
I am so excited about this and what it means for the future of Chicago as a bike-friendly city. I used to be doubtful of the efficacy of bike-sharing systems, until I visited Paris last year. The Velib system is amazing and, of the huge number of bicyclists on the streets of Paris, at least half of them were riding Velib bicycles. I got the sense that the city was pushed to become more bike-friendly and install new infrastructure as a response to the huge amount of bicyclists resulting from Velib. Could that happen in Chicago? I’m going to say – YES!
Read Trisha’s account of our Velib adventures HERE. Read the whole article at the Chicago Tribune HERE. Highly recommended reading. A+ to the Chicago Tribune: the article relays the facts and avoids manufacturing any awful debates.
Do you think a bike-sharing system can change a city? Would you like to see one where you live?
Hope everyone has fun plans for the weekend. Me, I plan on getting around to some of those France posts (it’s so hard to stay in front of the computer when the weather is so gorgeous!). Here’s a sneak peek: Dottie and Greg on the Velib, fitting right in with the Parisian riders ahead of them. If you look closely, you can even see me–well, my shadow–in the foreground.