When I first wrote about Divvy, I listed reasons that I anticipated using the bike share system, even though I have three bikes of my own. On Friday, one of those reasons popped up.
I take the L in the morning due to rain but the sun is shining by the end of the day.
Leaving for work in the morning in the pouring rain, I did not even consider biking. By the early evening, the sun was out and I was itching to ride a bike. Lo and behold, there was a brand new Divvy station right by me.
Using the bike was super easy. I had no problems riding in my trousers, thanks to the covered chain. The fenders protected me from being splashed by leftover rain puddles.
The front rack held my legal file and bag remarkably well. I was worried about the file slipping out, but everything felt perfectly secure.
I rode Divvy as far north as possible, before switching to the L to get all the way to my destination in Lincoln Square, where I was meeting friends for dinner. I can’t wait for the day when Divvy stations cover the city – which should be by the end of the summer!
I look forward to many more rides with Divvy in the future!
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.
Last week, I rode a B-cycle downtown for the first time. I know, kinda crazy that this is the first real ride I’ve taken on a B-cycle after being a member for three months. But it won’t be my last. If it has to be said, I’ve gone from cautious optimism about this system to a full-fledged supporter.
view from a B-cycle on 21st Ave. S.
I had biked to work on my own bike that morning, and if I took a B-cycle downtown the lack of stations in my neighborhood meant I would have to take the bus home, but I decided to go for it. Biking downtown and then taking a bus home (or vice-versa) is kind of my jam these days anyway. Plus, Kermit Allegra doesn’t mind spending the night in my office and I don’t mind walking to work in the morning when the weather is decent. Win-win.
The Hillsboro Village B-cycle station was pretty full, and only one of the bikes had a flat tire.
Just like bathroom stalls, inspect your B-cycle carefully before use.
I picked a bike that looked OK, adjusted the seat, checked the brakes, threw my snacks in the basket and was off to the Walk/Bike Nashville annual meeting.
It was a really windy, gusty afternoon, but the sun was out and the ride was otherwise uneventful, even though it was right at 5 pm. The bikes are solid, but not too heavy, and once I got used to the way the front basket affected the steering, I didn’t have any trouble at all.
When I got downtown, returning the bike was a breeze.
Here’s how I knew I’d done it right.
My selection of a mode of transport was quite apt because a Nashville B-cycle coordinator spoke at the meeting, and he divulged several intriguing tidbits about the way the program was going so far.
Since its launch in mid-December, Nashville’s B-cycle program has recruited more than 200 annual members and has had more than 2000 24-hour rentals. We have the longest check-out time for bikes in the country—more than 45 minutes on average—perhaps because the most popular station in town is the one at Centennial Park. (The second most popular is the one that I used on 21st and Wedgewood.) We also had the most annual membership signups at a launch event ever, though, which I thought was pretty cool. Oh—and bike share memberships are reciprocal. So if you are a B-cycle member in Nashville, you can rent B-cycles in every city that has a B-cycle program. This is an especially great deal because Nashville’s B-cycle program is the cheapest in the country (yeah!).
Though the system still needs more stations and bikes to be a transportation cyclist’s dream date, I have really been impressed with the launch and implementation so far. Anyone else ridden a B-cycle in Nashville or elsewhere?
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.
Mr. Dottie and I are in Denver this week vacationing and visiting Melissa and Chanh. We’re staying at a B&B downtown and so far we love the area. Today was devoted to B-Cycling. We picked up a couple of bikes a block away and made our way across town to the Platte River Trail, where we biked several miles, stopping for lunch and an excursion to the flagship REI store. We biked about 12 miles total for the day.
B-Cycle is Denver’s bike share system. There are 500 bikes at 51 stations, mostly serving the downtown area.
The bikes are fully outfitted for city riding, with 3-speeds, drum brakes, skirt guards, chain guards, baskets, generator lights, fenders and adjustable quick-release seats. Very comfy.
You swipe your membership card (which we borrowed) and the bike of your choice is released.
After paying a membership fee, using a bike is free for the first 30 minutes, $1 for the hour, and thereafter $4 for every half hour, to encourage short local trips. We managed to spend no more than $4 all day by docking and re-releasing our bikes as often as possible.
And then we were off! The trail is lovely – paved, scenic and well-maintained.
The fall colors here are gorgeous. So beautiful.
We stopped by a cool bike shop/coffee shop, Happy Coffee Co., that had this great mural outside.
Then Mr. Dottie had to infuse the ride with adventure and bomb up this hill with his little B-Cycle. Pretty impressive for a 3-speed city bike. We’ll have to find some real mountain biking later this week.
We loved our adventure on the B-Cycle and are enjoying biking in Denver. The past couple of days have been warm, but it’s supposed to snow up to 10 inches tomorrow!