Eyes on the Street: What Kind of Person Rides Divvy in the Winter?

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Isaac Wilson at State and Van Buren. Photo: John Greenfield

Prior to the Divvy bike-share launch, some folks argued that the program would be a waste of money because no one would use it during Chicago’s long winter. However, even during this week’s cold, snowy weather, the fairly common sight of bundled-up riders on the baby-blue bikes proved the system is still getting plenty of use.

I’ll be doing a series of interviews with people taking advantage of this new transportation network, which doesn’t require waiting in the cold for a bus, or digging out a car-parking spot, to see how things are working out. I buttonholed Isaac Wilson, a linguistics student at the Moody Bible Institute, at the State and Van Buren station.

John Greenfield: Are you a Divvy member?

Isaac Wilson: I am. I got the annual pass about a month-and-a-half ago.

JG: What kind of trip are you doing?

IW: Right now I’m just heading back home to my place near Oak and LaSalle. I went and had brunch with my faculty advisor and some other staff on the South Side – it was our Christmas party. Then I came up and stopped here at the Harold Washington Library, and then I’m going to ride up to my home on Division Street. I’ll probably dock at the station at Wells and Oak, near the bible institute.

JG: How often do you use Divvy?

IW: Probably every other day, at least, whenever I’m going from my room over to the ‘L’ to go somewhere, I usually hop on Divvy, or if I’m going somewhere nearby that’s only a couple of ‘L’ stops away or only a couple of bus stops away, it’s usually quicker for me to just hop on the bike.

JG: How has the system been working for you during the winter?

IW: It’s been great. I had one time after a snowstorm when the pedals were frozen solid, so they were a little bit slippery. But Chicago keeps the streets really clear, so I’ve been able to ride just fine. It’s cold, so I gotta make sure I have gloves and a beanie with me, but otherwise it’s been pretty good.

  • forensicgarlic

    I’ve used Divvy 3 times in december so far, when I’ve made the decision that it really wasn’t too cold after leaving my bike at home, or doing a quick trip in the loop.

  • Was everything good with the bike?

  • forensicgarlic

    The bikes seemed fine. One of the last few times it was a little noisier than is typical (maybe the generator?) so I hit the repair button when I got to my destination, but it certainly wasn’t unrideable.

    I forgot another reason I like Divvy’s for winter riding — they have great fenders, where my bike has none.

  • Dynamos are usually very quiet, because they have no physical friction (they just use magnets). It’s probably the internal gears.

    Have you taken to flipping the seat backwards to serve as a quick, visual indicator that the bike is unavailable to the next rider?

  • forensicgarlic

    I completely forgot about that, thanks for the reminder!

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