A Downpour Failed to Dampen Spirits at Last Night’s Divvy Launch

Julie Hochstadter, owner of The Chainlink, test rides a Divvy bike. Photo: John Greenfield

Yesterday evening at the launch celebration for Divvy bike-share, the roughly 80 founding members present were treated to a sight that may never be see again: hundreds of the “Chicago blue” cycles lined up in neat rows below the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza.

Divvy cycles at Daley Plaza. Photo: John Greenfield

Although a rain storm largely squelched the original plan of having members ride the bikes to docking stations in other parts of down to kickstart distribution efforts, Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said the shower was a good omen for the start of Chicago’s newest transportation system. “They say rain is a sign of renewal and change,” he said as he addressed the crowd from the shelter of an umbrella, “So maybe this is auspicious and not a bummer.”

Active Trans' Ron Burke, Divvy Spokesman Elliot Greenberger, Gabe Klein and a Divvy crew member. Photo: John Greenfield

In spite of the soggy conditions, members seemed to have a blast taking laps around the plaza on the clunky, comfy cruisers. Most of the bikes at the plaza were relocated to docking stations in other parts of town via flatbed trucks. A total of 700 bikes were distributed to 61 stations all over the central city by midnight, according to CDOT spokesman Pete Scales.

A slow, stable Divvy bike was ideal for teaching a visiting urban planner from Calgary, whose last cycle was a childhood trike, how to ride a two-wheeler. Photo: John Greenfield

Another four stations along the route for today’s Stanley Cup parade won’t open until after the event, in order to keep fans from climbing on then or vandalizing bikes. Over 1,500 people have signed up for Divvy so far. We’ll be checking in with a few of them today and providing you with reports on how the new public bike system is working out.


Are Lawbreaking Divvy Riders Really Causing Major Safety Issues?

[This article also ran in Checkerboard City, John’s column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.] Chicago’s master bike-baiter, Tribune columnist John Kass, was one of the first local pundits to warn the public about the dangers of Divvy. “I can’t stand those Divvy bike people,” he griped in an online video […]

The Trib’s Jon Hilkevitch Changes His Tune, Reports Divvy Is a Success

Back in May, a month before the Divvy bike-share system launched, transportation reporter Jon Hilkevitch published the first of three Tribune articles characterizing Divvy as a rip-off, dysfunctional and racist. In that first piece, a faux exposé entitled “Overtime fees, legal potholes dot city bike-share program,” Hilkevitch portrayed the rules and charges associated with the […]