Today’s Headlines

  • Oberman Says Current Metra Board Has No Tolerance for Patronage (Sun-Times)
  • CNT‘s Kathryn Tholin, a Transit Taskforce Member, Discusses the Report
  • Opinion: Overhauling Regional Transit Will Be “A Political Bitch” (Crain’s)
  • Work on Blue Line Between Damen and Western Starts This Weekend (DNA)
  • Lincolnwood Man Charged With Murder After Fatal Edens Crash (Tribune)
  • Driver Faces Felony Charges After Striking Ex-Roommate in McDonald’s Lot (CBS)
  • There Are Lots of Reasons for Chicago’s Potholes, Not Just Mother Nature (Tribune)
  • The Parking Geek Takes a Stand Against a Sidewalk-Hogging Driver (Expired Meter)
  • Chicago Team Enters Competition to Create the Perfect City Bike (Tribune)
  • Active Trans Announces Skivvy, a Bike-Share System for Clothing-Lite Individuals

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • One thing the perfect Chicago bike does not need is a very low gear. Someone tell Divvy.

  • BlueFairlane

    Amen to that! Those things are geared low enough for paraplegics.

  • The lowest gear is handy for climbing the occasional overpass or bridge. It also makes the heavy bikes more easily rideable for small people, seniors, etc.

  • duppie

    The perfect Chicago Bike definitely needs a low gear. Once you carry some real groceries (i.e. 30lbs or more), you will appreciate a low gear.

  • The bottom two gears on a Divvy are completely unusable, IMHO — and I’m the kind of person who can’t handle changing gears, on my own bike I leave it set to the same thing all the time. The top Divvy gear is about what I can handle as a basic go-everywhere gear … and my bike-competent husband views it as a half-decent hill climber but a little low even for that.

  • TeamNT

    Can’t wait to see the “Chicago” bike. MNML & Scott Wilson are doing great things… You can thank them for the “LOOK!” stickers you see in all cabs now, as MNML was instrumental in getting that done after losing their employee, Neill Townsend, to a dooring incident. Come on Scott, MNML team, and Garry Alderman, design us a bike that prevents doorings!

  • Fred

    Which group is more likely to use Divvy: people who require lowest common denominator bikes, or the able bodied? Low gearing makes the bikes unusable for the able bodied and high gearing makes them unusable for the other group. The simple solution would be 5 or 7 speed hubs, but for some reason that doesn’t seem like its going to happen. Lower gearing also limits the distance one can travel in 30 minutes, making the system less usable for everyone.

  • Anne A

    Especially into a headwind.

  • skyrefuge

    Well, don’t blame Divvy for your fear of changing gears. The fact that you leave your bike in the same gear all the time suggests that you often ride inefficiently in too *high* of a gear, and that’s likely why Divvy’s low gear feels wrong to you. It’s not actually wrong, it’s just that you aren’t used to it.

    I’m an able-bodied 6’4″ man who goes on multi-thousand mile bike rides, and the Divvy gearing is fine with me. I regularly use the low gear (when starting from a stop at a light), and can get going in the high gear as fast as I feel comfortable (18mph?) on most city streets. (it would be nice to have smaller steps *between* the high and low end, but I can understand that adding gears increases the cost/maintenance)

    Y’all need to work on getting your cadence up!

    PS: Does anyone know what the gear ratios on a Divvy actually measure out to?

  • I’m sorry but I don’t believe any able-bodied 6-4 man needs the second gear, let alone the first.

  • Maybe second gear is modestly handy for the occasional hill. First, not so much.

  • In my view Divvy needs to add a high gear and ditch the first gear. Still three speeds.

  • skyrefuge

    *need* it? Of course not. But it makes things easier/faster. I get going off the line faster if I use the low gear than if I don’t. I may only give one or two pedal strokes in #1 before switching to #2, and then 5-10 more before switching to #3, but that still gets me out of the gate faster than if I didn’t have those gears. I do the same thing on my own 27-speed bike, except I have 9 gears to click down through there while accelerating.

    I can also start my car from a stop in 2nd gear, but it’s harder and slower, so why wouldn’t I use 1st gear instead?

  • BlueFairlane

    First gear on these bikes isn’t equivalent to starting from first in a car. It’s equivalent to starting from neutral. All you’re doing in first gear is spinning you’re legs. I feel like the Road Runner in the low gears on these bikes, where my legs are nothing but spinning clouds that don’t really move me anywhere.

  • BlueFairlane

    There are maybe three hills in this town that justify that 2nd gear, and that’s only because we’re so out of touch with the concept of topography that even very slight rises scare us.

  • skyrefuge

    Well yeah, I certainly don’t use the low gear when I’m at cruising speed, and I’m not sure if I’ve used it when going up any of Chicago’s “hills” (bridges).

    On my own bike, using my “standard” low gear (middle ring up front, big ring in the back), my max speed at 90RPM would be 6.8mph. So totally useless at cruising speed, yet I still use it all the time when accelerating.

    What cadence/speed do you normally ride at?

    I’ll have to see if I can find some free time this weekend to measure out Divvy’s gear ratios (and from that, what speed results from a given RPM), since I can’t seem to find the info online anywhere (bike community, you’ve failed me!!)

  • Alex_H

    One or two pedal strokes in the lowest Divvy gear is enough for you to defend its existence? Goodness.

  • skyrefuge

    Yeah, of course it is. In my car I’m probably in first gear less than 5% of my driving time, but I’d defend that if you wanted to take it away from me too.

    If the argument is “get rid of the low gear because it’s not necessary and 2-speed bikes would be cheaper to make/operate”, I’d certainly be fine with that.

    But if it’s “shift the ratios of all three gears up”, then that would be trading something useful to me for something not useful to me, with no other benefit.

    I know most people aren’t in the habit of downshifting when they come to a stop (even though everyone does it in a car), but they should be, because it’s a pretty awesome feature of multi-geared vehicles!

  • BlueFairlane

    What cadence/speed do you normally ride at?

    I have no idea. When starting out in first gear on a Divvy bike, it’s probably something around a thousand. That gets me about three feet, and I shift up. Once I’m cruising in top gear, I usually spend most of my time coasting, as I max out the gear.

    I’m not out there to race or to maintain some strict cardio program, though. I just want to ride comfortably, and for me that means not having to scramble like the Tazmanian Devil whenever I take off just to keep from falling over.

  • Alex_H

    As a 6’4″ man, you really don’t wish there were a higher gear on Divvies?

  • Someone needs to set up a Divvy bike race to test these claims!

  • skyrefuge

    First, living with my 6’4″ manliness near the end of the bell curve for much of my life may have conditioned me to be more subconsciously forgiving of limitations on one-size-fits-all devices; I’m simply accustomed to such things not being designed explicitly for me. So I’d need to do a more conscious test to see if I would ever find a higher gear useful.

    But like I said, I feel like I can do about 18mph on a Divvy, with weight and wind resistance being more the limiting factors than the gearing. My normal cadence is around 100RPM (also an outlier on the high end, I know). On my own bike, that propels me over 20mph, without even shifting to the big ring up front. So I feel like Divvy’s gearing must be something close to that, but it would be nice to figure out what it actually is.

  • skyrefuge

    Count me in! Of course I’d have to first go through all the Divvys at a station to find the one where the gears actually operate smoothly and reliably!

  • BlueFairlane

    Heh. I’m in.