Two of the major topics of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting on Wednesday were bike-share and the Dearborn Street bike lane.
Divvy bike-share was supposed to launch with 40 stations today during the Bike To Work Day Rally, but on Tuesday, the company announced that the system would launch on June 28 with 75 stations. Sean Wiedel, assistant commissioner for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said that a proprietary bolt used in the stations had just arrived this week. Meanwhile, New York’s recently-launched bike-share system, Citi Bike, which uses the same components and software as Divvy, has experienced some bugs in the beginning, including occasional power failures at the stations. Still, in the 19 days since launch, over 212,000 trips have been made.
Metropolitan Planning Council Vice President Peter Skosey, an MBAC member, asked that since the Tribune reported “no one is going to use bike sharing, how many members are there?” Wiedel replied that more than 1,300 people have purchased an annual membership. This is lower than the sign-up rate for Citi Bike, which sold 10,000 annual memberships in 30 days, but since New York launched with more than 300 stations, it’s more or less proportional, given the smaller size of Chicago’s initial bike-share network.
Some companies are also signing up for corporate memberships, which give their employees a discount on bike-share subscriptions. Skosey mentioned that MPC has added a free membership for Divvy to their employee benefits package.
The first Divvy station was installed Thursday night at the southeast corner of Daley Plaza (at Washington and Dearborn Streets) with 23 docks. Wiedel said that four more would be installed on Friday, as part of training the crew, who will then work in two teams of four to install eight stations a day until June 28. Each station has two neighborhood maps — one showing the area within a 5-minute walk and the other showing a 5-minute biking radius. “It will show cultural institutions, libraries, and ‘business districts,’ so as not to show favoritism,” Wiedel explained.
Also revealed at the meeting: Dearborn Street will be receiving some much-needed upgrades soon, including fresh green paint and longer-lasting, more visible thermoplastic pavement markings. Additionally, to mitigate conflicts between cyclists and other street users at alleys and driveways, CDOT will add “rumble strips” for cyclists in the form of thicker thermoplastic. Rumble strips tell bicyclists to slow down and green paint should make it more obvious that this is a lane for a biking.