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

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Adam Loedint at the Daley Center. Photo: John Greenfield

This winter, Chicago’s fifth snowiest on record, with over 20 subzero days, has been a test for whether bike-share can be viable year-round in U.S. cities with harsh northern climates. The multitude of baby-blue bikes I observed whizzing by the Daley Center during this evening’s rush hour (and, no, Critical Mass hadn’t started yet) suggests Divvy is still going strong. I buttonholed bike-share user Adam Loedint, an engineer, to ask how the system has been working out for him during this unforgiving season.

John Greenfield: Are you commuting home from work?

Adam Loedint: Yeah, I work at Monroe and Wabash and live around Ohio and Franklin, so it’s about an eight-minute ride.

JG: Do you ride Divvy regularly during the winter?

AL: Every day.

JG: How’s it been working out?

AL: I’ve been very happy. I think it’s the best thing to happen to Chicago since I’ve been here.

JG: Any issues with mechanical difficulties?

AL: When it got real cold, I noticed some tires were flat. So that just turned into one thing I would look for before rolling it, but there’s always more bikes in the winter too, so it’s not a problem.

JG: Was there ever a time when you went riding on a Divvy and you found it was just painfully cold?

AL: You know, the only time I got a bike and brought it back was not ‘cause of cold. It was just raining so hard. That was actually before the winter. In the winter, one day I forgot my gloves, so I took the ‘L’ that day, but otherwise, no, no problems.

JG: Anything else you want to tell me about your Divvy winter experience?

AL: I tell you, all the old guys at my office don’t get it at all. They can’t understand the 30-minute trips aspect, how that could be useful, and they worry about getting stuck somewhere. I don’t know how to explain it to them. There seems to be an age gap there.

JG: I’m sure they’ll wrap their heads around it some day.

  • Anne A

    I’ve taken a bunch of Divvy trips in the last few months, mostly short trips in and near the Loop. The only problem I’ve experienced more than once is seat posts frozen in a low position. I’ve usually seen on very clean bikes that were obviously newly washed. Now the first thing I do is check to see if I can raise the seat post.

    On days when the streets were fairly clean but sidewalks or corners were treacherous, I’ve often found Divvy easier and less stressful than walking.

  • duppie

    The biggest problem I’ve had on truly cold days (<5 degrees) is docking stations not allowing me to return a bike. It appeared as if the locking mechanisms were frozen and not able to lock onto the bike. This mostly happened at some of the outlying, less used stations.

  • Lizzyisi

    I ran into the same problem with the seat being frozen into the wrong position for me. Fortunately, there was an available bike at the station with the seat frozen at my preferred setting!

  • Anne A

    I didn’t have your good luck. All the bikes at the station had seats in low positions – way too low for me. I tried several bikes and all had frozen seatposts. Last night I used Divvy to ride across the Loop and was grateful NOT to have the problem.

  • m.

    How old are the “old guys”?

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