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Divvy Supplier Sale May Delay Expansion But Station Locations Nearly Ready

2:46 PM CDT on March 14, 2014

First Divvy bike share station opens in Daley Plaza
CDOT assistant commissioner Sean Wiedel, left, talks to people about Divvy at Daley Plaza. Photo: WBEZ/Robin Amer

The Chicago Department of Transportation and Divvy will be installing 175 bike-share stations this year with a new method that avoids last year's haphazard and seemingly random distribution. Instead, they will be placing all stations in each of 10 selected areas at once. This way, CDOT assistant commissioner Sean Wiedel told Streetsblog, "that area will have an instant network" of stations.

Dark purple is current Divvy coverage area; light purple is a rough estimate of the future coverage area. Map: ITDP, Steven Vance, Daniel Ronan

CDOT has divided the system expansion – which will place about 20 percent of stations in the existing service area – into 10 sections. They are, in no particular order, Hyde Park/Woodlawn, South Shore, Edgewater/Rogers Park, Washington Park, Albany Park, Avondale/Logan Square, Garfield Park, Ukrainian Village, Pilsen/Douglas Park, and Canaryville/Bronzeville.

Last year, a neighborhood may have gotten a station here and there, and then a neighborhood on the opposite side of town would get a couple of stations. They would be turned on at different times, and become useful for only a handful of scattered residents. This year, all stations for each section – Hyde Park/Woodlawn, for example – will be installed in the same week.

Wiedel said this helps to better coordinate outreach. "We'll have staff in that neighborhood that same week," Wiedel explained.

Station selection for all 10 areas was completed, Wiedel noted, saying "we'll survey in the field in the next day or so." After that CDOT will send station information packets to aldermen for their approval. Daniel Ronan wrote earlier this month that "biggest challenge in placing stations last year was opposition from aldermen, merchants, and residents to replacing on-street car parking spaces with Divvy stations."

Wiedel also gave an update Wednesday at the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council about Divvy supplier Public Bike System Co., which filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada.

PBSC, more popularly known as Bixi, is currently for sale, and Alta Bicycle Share, Divvy's operator, has put in a bid. The sale is expected to close April 15.

MBAC north side community representative Michelle Stenzel, co-chair of Bike Walk Lincoln Park, asked the burning question, "What's realistic when you're going to install the new stations?"

Wiedel replied that CDOT and Divvy haven't put the order in for new bikes and stations. He told attendees that "under PBSC and the financial duress they were in, equipment orders took four months" because "PBSC was paying off lines of credits instead of paying [their own] suppliers." Wiedel said that "summer" is the only time frame he can give for the expansion.

Other Divvy updates:

    • An expansion to Evanston and Oak Park is still in progress and the cities will know more about their grant application from IDOT "in the next week or two," Wiedel said.
    • CDOT is close to signing a sponsorship deal "that would be invested in the system as well as bike infrastructure that complements Divvy," Wiedel said.
    • Divvy received 99 entries in its Data Challenge. "Judges from Divvy, 1871, CDOT, Firebelly Design, IDEO, and DataMade are busy reviewing submissions," according to the Divvy website.

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