Today’s Headlines

  • Quinn, Rauner, Discuss Regional, State Planning Issues at MPC Event
  • Dubious Honor: Quinn Renames the Circle Interchange After Ex-Mayor Jane Byrne (DNA)
  • More Kennedy Lane Closures Coming for Ohio Street Bridge Project (Expired Meter)
  • Man Beaten, Fatally Struck by Driver in Little Village (Tribune)
  • City Spent More Than $42K on Anti-Homeless Barricades in Avondale Viaduct (DNA)
  • California Blue Line Station Closing for 6-Weeks Starting This Thursday (RedEye)
  • Free CTA Rides for CPS Students on First Day of School (Sun-Times)
  • Divvy Users Want Better Bike Availability, More Stations (RedEye)
  • 40th Ward Bike-Share Stations Locations Announced (DNA)
  • SUV Driver Crashes Into Wicker Park Nail Salon (DNA)

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  • Kevin M

    Any ideas of what specific changes will be made to the California station? A new additional entrance and/or exit would sure be nice–perhaps approachable from the west side of California.

  • The Divvy article definitely rings true in the south loop where there are, on a typical weekday morning, 6-8 adjacent stations that have no bikes sometime between 8:15-8:45. I’ve been contacting Divvy about this since last august, when the problem began and have seen no improvement. It’s gotten to the point where if the weather is halfway decent, my wife will just walk to work since she knows no bikes will be available. I understand the situation with Bixi but there’s no excuse for this problem to persist for so long. If they need to raise the annual rate to hire more rebalancers, do it. At $100 a year, Divvy is still practically free compared to any other mode of transit, including owning your own bike.
    Other things Divvy needs to do to improve customer experience:
    – Improve daily pass process. The touch screens are very confusing, and takes way too long. Divvy ought to sell daily passes, (in the form of fobs, not the keycode receipts) at jewels/walgreens. My usual station, at indiana and roosevelt seems to have a confused person permanently fixed at the kiosk.
    – Allow an annual user to enable their account to check out a set amount of multiple bikes. Because the daily pass purchasing is so time-consuming and unreliable, i’ve had non-member friends with me and avoided using divvy when it would definitely be a good option. It should work similar to how i swipe my out-of-town friends with my ventra card when riding the CTA. The best thing about this is that it makes it easier for local, non-members to take rides with seasoned divvyers, increasing the likelihood they have a good experience and perhaps become members themselves.
    – Not as important as the first two but, as a nerd about this stuff, i’d like more information available on my rides on their website.

    It’s disappointing that Divvy seems to have gotten complacent with improving their operation, all my worst experiences with the system have come in the past 2-3 months. Divvy, when it works, is my favorite mode of transportation but they need to get on the ball, especially with the things within their control.

  • Kevin M

    I think SB may have missed re-posting this transpo news item from Friday’s Crain’s Chicago:

    Kudos to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle for drafting a letter to CMAP’s Executive Director explaining why she opposes the Illiana Expressway.

  • My main problem is in the evening in the Loop. My morning stations are usually ok if I leave before 8:30. On this point, I wish the expansion was more weighted towards in-fill, but politically I suppose it made sense to expand.

    I agree the day pass system is nuts, a real disaster of machine interface design. The throw-away fob idea is great.

  • Fred

    It seems like they have concentrated on keeping bikes at certain stations in the loop during the evening rush. For example on my commute up Franklin, the stations at Jackson and Quincy would often be empty, but the station in front of the La Quinta at Madison has a high schooler stationed there all day and always has bikes.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    To me the operators of Divvy have to decide if Divvy is going to be commuter oriented or just directed at short term rentals for everybody.

    If it’s going to be commuter oriented, then Divvy will have to more racks located in heavy commuter use areas to the exclusion of outer neighborhood expansion. When that happens, outlying areas may feel that they are not getting a fair share of Divvy. And when you locate so many Divvy racks within in the loop, northside and near southside, this too may give the appearance that Divvy is targeted towards the higher end income areas because downtown, near north and near south have for the most part the most expensive housing.

    Additionally, if Divvy is going to be commuter oriented they will have to have more staff to relocate bikes and vastly larger racks. This could present problems in areas that don’t mind having a small Divvy rack near their building, but may object to a mega rack of Divvy.

  • I think Divvy can serve both purposes it just has to try harder and think a little bit. For example, the valet service is a great idea. However, they put a valet at Ogilvie and another at Union station. Instead, they should place one valet at madison & clinton (accessible to both stations) and another at a more east location in the loop. Why would you put two valet stations right next to each other?
    In general, i think with just increasing the number of rebalancers, they can avoid having to build huge arcades of docks. Most mornings, i look at the app before i head out and there are only 3-4 pockets where bikes are particularly scarce. Unfortunately, i happened to live in one of those pockets.

    The other idea i had was to allow apartment/condo/office buildings to purchase small 5 bike docks without the daily pass kiosk (“Mini-divvys”) to be placed in front of their building. This would take some of the burden of expansion off of Divvy. These mini-divvys could be excluded from rebalance efforts so it doesn’t strain resources from the most used stations. For example, it could be structured where a $12,000 investment (just to make up a number) buys a 5 bike dock and 3 bikes, then $500 a year paid to Divvy to maintain the dock. The landlord gets to offer it as an amenity to their tenants and Divvy gets more bikes and more docks. Divvy already is a PPP but it should leverage private dollars at a much smaller scale to allow for better system coverage. I could picture a development like the roosevelt collection (south loop) or new city (lincoln park) wanting to place a few divvy stations in their development to encourage traffic.

  • Fred

    The operators of Divvy don’t make those decisions; politicians do. Its far more politically advantageous to say “See Belmont-Cragin, I care about you! I put Divvy in your neighborhood!” than to make the system as useful as possible. Objectively, what you propose makes the most sense, but politically it will never work and politics trump objectivity 11 times out of 10.

  • Roland Solinski

    Nothing like this. The station house will be renovated, platforms will get new decking and canopies/railings will be sandblasted. Similar to the work done on the North Red Line stations a few years ago.

  • Anne A

    I’ve had increasingly frequent problems with a lack of available bikes at Clark/Congress at morning rush hour. This morning there were none available at 8:30. A few showed up shortly after, then were immediately checked out by other riders. I’ve noticed Divvy about this on numerous occasions. At times they’re on top of it. Today they definitely weren’t.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    So if Divvy wants to expand for commuter purposes, perhaps they have to consider raising prices. If an annual membership is only $75.00, that equals $6.75/month. If someone wants to take 20 Divvy rides per month for commuting purposes, that’s .31 per ride; .17/ride if used 20 days a month x 2. Even the CTA which is heavily subsidized charges $2.00/fare.

    At the rate of .31 per ride for a commuter per ride, you may never have enough Divvy bikes to service commuters.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    But if you say to people in Belmont Cragin you’re not getting the depth of expansion of the Divvy to your area because we want to promote and subsidize the commute of people into and out of downtown Chicago within the 30 minute Divvy rental timeframe, (and oh by the way, these are people who generally of higher income because they are paying downtown, near north and near south rentals or condo prices) there is going to be at some time resentment over the distribution of Divvy. After all, people who live in Belmont-Cragin are taxpayers too.

  • I agree, which is why i’d support raising the annual fee to $100 (or $125 or whatever) if that would mean they could hire some more rebalancers.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Was Divvy created to be a “bike sharing” system or a heavily subsidized alternative for bike commuters?

    Unless there is a significant amount of expansion – and – truck loads of rebalancers, you may never have enough bikes at popular destinations and pickup points at certain times of the day. And then what do you do the rest of the day with the the extra bikes and workers? Will rebalancers work split shifts like transit workers do?

    Bike sharing is a great idea. I believe that people who want to use Divvy for commuting purposes may have to realize that there may be times that nothing is available unless you seriously raise prices for expansion purposes. And then the cost may put it out of range of the occasionally user, which I believe Divvy was originally intended for.

  • So far, Chicago has had little trouble securing federal grants to launch and expand the system. That’s not a given for the future, but our city has been very successful in winning Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement funds from the feds for bike projects over the last decade or two.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    But as bike rentals become more popular more cities apply for funds. There is no guarantee this funding source will continue, especially if the same funds come out of the same bucket as grants to stipe bike lanes. And next year will be 3 years in for a lot of equipment that’s exposed daily to all weather.

  • I sort of began to experience the same thing – unreliability of Divvy for actual transportation when I needed to be somewhere – during the summer, particularly out in the neighborhoods. A bit of a victim of its own success, which I like (as a supporter of the idea of bike share) but also found annoying.

    On the day-pass part: the docks can read contactless cards, like Ventra (if I’m not mistaken) and this is a huge missed opportunity which would have made Chicago the prime North American example of an integrated fare payment system (that is, when Metra gets around to Ventra). Not only would Divvy using Ventra make it easier for existing members, it would also make the transit/bike connection more obvious to people who might otherwise just use transit, but it could also be good for tourists. Also, the Ventra kiosks are a bit more responsive than whatever computer lives inside a Divvy kiosk.