Jessica Cervantes and Gary Resner Talk About Their Divvy Experience

Divvy users Jessica Cervantes and Gary Resner at Clark and Lake. Photo: John Greenfield

When I encountered Gary Resner, an accountant, and P.E. teacher Jessica Cervantes standing with Divvy bikes underneath the ‘L’ tracks at Clark and Lake, they were looking for a place to dock their rides, so I directed them to the Daley Plaza station, but not before asking them about their bike-share experience.

John Greenfield: So what kind of trips were you taking with the bikes?

Gary Resner: We were down at the Blackhawks rally and we actually took it to go to Navy Pier. New is new, so instead of walking we figured we’d check it out, and now were taking it back to the ‘L’ to go home to Roscoe Village.

JG: How did it work out for you?

Jessica Cervantes: It’s worked out well. It’s been kind of an adventure. It’s a little difficult finding the stations. Between different legs of our trip we would see a bunch on the way. On our first trip we were almost over the 30-minute mark because we were looking all over for a station and finally found one and got the bikes in just in time. Other than that it’s been good.

JG: Cool, so it’s been a positive experience overall. Did you guys buy one-day passes?

GR: Yeah.

JG: Do you think you might buy annual memberships?

GR: As of right now, probably not. I don’t really spent a lot of time in the Loop, and I don’t really ride bikes that often. It’s an experience, though.

JC: Yeah. Seven dollars is worth it for just the day, like we did today. We were one place, wanted to go somewhere else, so that was worth it. If we were around here more, the annual pass would be worth it, but we’re just not down here that much.

GR: It also seems like the summer will be a bigger hit, but I can’t really imagine renting a bike in the middle of the winter. So the annual membership, it’s not really like you’re paying for a full year. You’re only paying for the good eight or ten months that you’re going to be riding a bike.

JG: A lot of people ride all winter, though.

JC: If we were down here more often it would be worth it. But it’s definitely cool for the day.

[Of course, it didn’t occur to me to mention that Roscoe Village will be getting stations in the near future, so perhaps Jessica and Gary will be using Divvy more than they expect.]

  • Biker dude

    Chicago Tirbune has an anti-Divvy story. Bikeshare cannot go wrong. the newspaper is anti-bike. Boycott the Tribune.

  • Michael Weiser

    I support Divvy and read the Tribune story. I thought it was fair. To me, the point of it was that on the first day of operations there were some issues to be worked out.

    I think articles like this are helpful. For instance, I didn’t know that:

    “Alta Bicycle Share Inc. is supposed to balance supply and demand by loading bikes in vans at overflow locations and shuttling them to other stations”.

    Hopefully StreetsBlog, the Tribune, and the SunTimes will keep up with Alta to make sure they’re doing their job.

    Good writing, Tribune writer Jon Hilkevitch. Nice interview and picture, John Greenfield. Great to have read both.

  • Interesting piece. I enjoyed reading about their experience. I would love to read more of these interviews as Divvy gets off the ground.

    I think Divvy will help people realize that biking in the winter is a viable option. If someone is waiting for a bus or trying to hail a cab in freezing weather and sees a Divvy station next to a clear bike lane, bicycling will suddenly seem like a really good idea. Certainly, it would be no colder or more miserable than standing around waiting.

    Yay, Divvy!

  • Your wish is my command! Look for more feedback from Divvy riders in an upcoming post.

  • Katja

    Bonus story from also a first-time bike share user:

    I visited Minneapolis this weekend and took a Nice Ride, which is their version of Divvy. I’m a pretty avid cyclist, but my bike is a reasonably light many-geared road bike and being on this super heavy 3-speed cruiser was a very…. different experience. It certainly was comfortable, though, and got me across town for way less than the cost of a cab.

    All in all, it was a decent experience, but I still can’t see myself getting a Divvy subscription for a year. It was great for use as a tourist, but I like my own bike too much.

  • Fred

    I’m in a similar boat, but for me Divvy would (I am not yet signed up) not replace my current bikes, it would replace trips I am not currently making with my bike. For instance, I like to ride to work, but prefer not to bike in the rain, so if there is rain forecasted at all, i will not ride. Divvy would allow me to ride to work if it is supposed to rain in the afternoon, or ride home if it was raining when I left in the morning. Also, I love going to the different neighborhood summer festivals where I can drink beer outside. I don’t want to have to worry about biking home, so I could take a Divvy bike to the festival, then bus/train/cab home. So for the above scenarios, Divvy bikes would replace walk commuting and a public transit ride. Divvy complements bike ownership, not replaces it.

    The 2 main issues I have with Divvy are: I carefully track all my bike mileage with a bike computer which would be difficult on a Divvy bike. And 2) Helmets. I prefer to ride with a helmet, but I don’t want to lug a helmet around for the other half of the above journeys. It would be nice if Divvy offered bike helmet lockers for members. That way I could at least leave my helmet in a Divvy bike rack locker while festival-ing, then swing by and pick it up on my way home.

  • Katja

    I am in almost 100% the same boat as you. Have you used the gmap pedometer? It has a “track by bike” method you can use to get your mileage in.

    The helmet thing was weird. Minneapolis streets — or at least the streets I was on — were similarly crazy as Chicago streets. I didn’t have a helmet, and it was a little scary. That said, after biking across all of Minneapolis, I didn’t really feel “weird” not having one. Locker storage at Divvy stations seems to space-consuming to be practical.

    I would totally get a Divvy annual subscription if it let me visit other Alta Bicycle Share places with said account. It’d be nice to be able to use it in DC/NYC/Boston/etc.

  • Fred

    I have not looked into any apps since I haven’t signed up. I’m certain there are phone or GPS watch based solutions, its just an extra hassle, though certainly not deal-breaking.

    I’m imagining small 1 cubic foot lockers that wouldn’t take up much space at all. You could stack up 9 lockers that size (3×3) in 3 sq ft of ground space. I realize there are a number of reasons it will never happen, just saying it would be nice.

    Use-anywhere would be a nice perk, but with Alta just being the operator and not the ultimate money maker, I imagine it would be difficult. Look at all the issue with Ipass/EzPass/SunPass. Local governments are not exactly known for their abilities to play nice with others.

  • Andy

    So I’m looking forward to using Divvy in the near future. I have family in Chicago and as a frequent visitor I can’t wait to pick up a bike on north LSD, go downtown for a meal, then maybe head out to the west Loop to visit family. Granted, full system roll out will have to come first before that trip happens.

  • Anne A

    I wasn’t expecting a 100% perfect experience on the first day of such a complex system. I thought Hilkevitch’s piece, while it did not present any lies, was very biased towards the negative.

    When the system is still experiencing some software glitches, and exact patterns of usage haven’t yet been established, it’s a lot tougher to redistribute bikes accurately and quickly.

    I’d like to give the Divvy folks a chance to resolve those technical issues and to learn usage patterns before I judge them on how well they handle rebalancing. Do I have high expectations? Sure, but not on the first day of service.


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