In 15 Days, Divvy Bike-Share Sold 1,300 Annual Memberships

Bike to Work Day Rally
Deputy commissioner Scott Kubly speaks to WBEZ reporter Robin Amer about Divvy.

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.

Bike to Work Day Rally
The Divvy station neighborhood map.

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.

Which is worse, individual ignorance or collective ignorance? #bikeCHI @DearbornBikeLn
Some valet operators use the bike lane for customers' cars. Photo: Justin Haugens.

MBAC community representative Michelle Stenzel also wanted to know how CDOT will deal with the delivery, valet, and taxi drivers who park daily in the bike lane. “For valets, [the parking is] temporary for them, but it’s permanent for bicyclists,” she said. “[The same with] government vehicles. This impedes visibility and makes it dangerous. Truck drivers don’t know it’s a bike lane because their visibility is blocked. Having a raised curb there would stop this.”

CDOT complete streets manager Janet Attarian said “that is the long-term plan.” After Stenzel asked when the long-term plan would be implemented, Klein noted that, in the meantime, “we’re going to add [flexible posts] at the conflict zones.”

The other issue with Dearborn is poor drainage between Adams and Jackson (a.k.a. “Lake Kluczynski”) and at Randolph (“Lake Petterino’s”). Deep, wide puddles can remain even days after it rains. Klein said that the problem by Randolph was caused by a clogged drain while the other “lake,” adjacent to Federal Plaza, has no drain. Smith said that CDOT would look at these when they go out to install the thermoplastic. CDOT Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly also advised calling 311, saying “motorists never hesitate” to call.

It wasn’t mentioned at the meeting, but Streetsblog reader Justin Haugens, who rides to and from Rogers Park several times a week, told us that the left-side, one-way bike lane on Dearborn that starts at Kinzie Street has been extended past Chicago Avenue to Walton Street, at the Newberry Library, where Dearborn becomes two-way. The purpose of this extension is to connect with the northbound bike lane on Clark Street.

Lake Petterino's
The bike lane lake that won't go away.

The next MBAC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 11, 2013, from 3-4:30 PM in Room 1103 at City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street.

  • BrownBrown

    I am crying this is so beautiful to see. I’m actually not crying, more balling. Chicago’s bike sharing is so amazing that I am crying! Bless you Chicago! :) HAVE FUN CHICAGO!

  • James

    Hahaha — look what bank is across from these bikes!

    It’s so nice when the bikeshare systems — as in Chicago and DC — are not entirely corporate, as is the case with NYC. Even in London, the Barclay’s Bikes (Boris Bikes) are designed with the London Transport circle.

  • I cropped the photo just right.

  • Anonymous

    Any idea if they’re going to list the corporate memberships somewhere on their website? Let’s just say I work for a ginormous company with a decent Chicago presence, but it’s not HQ. I’ve discovered a number of times after the fact that I could have gotten an employee discount or freebie at some of the museums because my company participates in the corporate programs for them, but then does a bad job communicating that out to the employees.

  • Emailed Divvy and CDOT staff to ask. Good idea.

  • Anonymous

    What is the issue people have with corporate names on things? I just don’t get it.

  • Well, there’s the belief that public assets shouldn’t be for sale to the highest bidder, to start. Then there’s the problem of winding up with incredibly stupid-sounding things, i.e. Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena (clearly the home of some thrilling events), or when the corporate partner in question goes down, as is the case with the former Enron Field. And then there are cases like this:

    Finally, I have serious doubts that any of these companies actually get any real ROI from these deals, it’s purely a status thing which, like many other aspects of modern American corporate culture, has gotten entirely out of hand.

  • They said they will.

  • Have the economists at these companies not determined an ROI (positive, negative, or neutral) on “status”?

  • Anonymous

    Great news! I’ll check their site here and there. Most of the stations I’ll use are phase 2/3, so I haven’t signed up yet, maybe my company will make it cheaper :)

  • Anonymous

    And if a company’s desire for “status” means a bike share or similar program gets funding at all or more funding to be larger, what’s wrong with that?

  • dipsydoodle

    Read up on the privatization of public space, and ask yourself why everything needs an ad on it. If corporations paid their fair share in taxes to begin with, local governments wouldn’t need to go begging to them.

  • Anonymous

    I’m well aware of the issues involved and I do not have an issue selling a corporation a little namespace on a bike share bike.

  • Adam Herstein

    Why are they bothering to extend the one-way left side bike lane? It’s already terrible because motorists just use it as a left-turn lane and/or double parking lane. It really needs to be upgraded to a protected lane.

  • I agree that the Dearborn bike lane doesn’t work very well between Kinzie and Chicago, but the extension to Walton is actually very nice. Those blocks are relatively quiet and left turns aren’t an issue. The new pavement is silky smooth. At Walton you turn left at the Newberry Library, which takes you to the new buffered lanes on Clark, so it’s actually a pretty useful little connector.

  • Adam Herstein

    I nearly always move to the right lane as soon as possible after passing Kinzie because I find it nerve-wracking to ride in a left-hand conventional bike lane.

  • I usually don’t care for it myself, but north of Chicago it’s pretty nice.

    The Jackson PBL/BBL also is on the left side of the street on its eastern section, but at least for the protected part it’s not bad to ride on because there aren’t as many left turns or as much double parking as on Dearborn in River North.

  • Can’t agree more! So many people either turn left onto Kinzie and a handful keep going north too. Drivers constantly turning left/taxis using the lane as a drop-off/pick-up for the hotels there. It’s a mess and so bizarre they just didn’t take the PBL all the way to Chicago (or Walton, seeing that Chicago Ave is also a mess)

  • Adam Herstein

    I’d argue that Dearborn doesn’t get nice until Division, but I get your point. Perhaps the bike lane should be protected from Kinzie to Chicago, conventional until Walton or Division, then have some sort of bike-only traffic signal to allow cyclists to switch to the right lane until North?

  • Adam Herstein

    Having a stress-free route from the Loop to Lincoln Park (the actual park) would be lovely. I typically take Dearborn to North Avenue and either take the LFT from there or ride on paths in the park to get home (depending on how crowded I think the LFT will be). Dearborn from Kinzie to Division is the only harrowing part of my ride.

  • That’s what I do too, I’ll usually take Clark north from there (which is OK except the part from North to Armitage), or the LFT, unless it’s too windy. And to get into the loop I take LFT to Oak, then State, to Kinzie to Dearborn (today I took Clark instead of State, though, and don’t really prefer it one way or another).

  • Adam Herstein

    That’s the exact route I take into the Loop as well. State isn’t too bad because it’s one of the few two-way streets though River North. I took Clark once – never again. Those three lane one-way streets are practically expressways.

  • Since there’s a buffered lane on Clark from Oak to North doing a treatment on Dearborn on would be kind of redundant. North of Chicago, Dearborn is mellow enough that arguably the new stretch of lane isn’t needed, but it is a nice welcome mat for bikes.

  • I see what Adam means here, the left bike lane north to Walton gets confusing since Dearborn turns two-way north of Walton, and it creates a scenario where the cyclist has to get to the right side of Walton to go north on Clark, and there’s usually a lot of drivers there (at PM rush), which makes it confusing for everyone. It’s an OK design if you’re confident enough but I don’t think it works well if you’re a novice cyclist or just not into the taking chances thing.

    Edit: Getting over to the right side of Dearborn is also a hassle since the intersection is a stop sign only and you have to move across two lanes of traffic to get to the right. I guess you could walk your bike across the crosswalk…

  • I just saw an ad for the IL lottery being pasted on the Lakefront trail near Oak St beach. I hope it gets worn off quickly.


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