Why Did Divvy Stations Dance Around River West, Lincoln Square?
Divvy bike-share stations were designed to be easy to move around, with their modular construction and off-grid solar power. Sure enough, plenty of Divvy members have had their routines disrupted by station moves lately: 8,000 Divvy members received word this year that stations they’d recently used were on the move. One Divvy member forwarded two such emails to Streetsblog and asked why the stations had to be moved, since the new locations didn’t seem any more convenient than the prior locations.
Over in the heart of Lincoln Square, Divvy moved a station from Lincoln and Eastwood avenues, in the midst of a thriving retail district of small shops clustered around the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Davis cinema, one-third of a mile away to Leavitt Avenue and Lawrence Avenue. Even though the move will make Divvy trips to Lincoln Square businesses a bit less convenient, there’s another dock one block up Lincoln at the Western Brown Line ‘L.’ Plus, the move expanded Divvy’s reach into the neighborhood north of Lawrence, and gives a boost to a revitalizing shopping area on Lawrence Avenue.
Sean Wiedel, who manages Divvy for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said “we worked with the 47th ward office to better serve the new Lawrence Avenue streetscape and businesses that are opening in the corridor.” Winnemac Park residents were brought into the Divvy service area, he said, whereas before they would have to cross Lawrence – a mean feat before the diet – to access existing locations in Lincoln Square or at the Ravenswood Metra station to the east. Additional Divvy docks were added at the ‘L’ stop to accommodate potential new demand within the Square.
The second relocation moved a Divvy station from Milwaukee Avenue and Green Street in River West two blocks away, to Union Street and Grand Avenue. The previous location wasn’t perfect, since it was hidden behind a block of dilapidated buildings and all but invisible from the Blue Line station entrances half a block away – but the new location is even further from the Blue Line, and also across a busy six-way intersection.
Wiedel said the move was necessary because of impending construction at the old site, where the “battleship gray” buildings have been adorned in a succession of street art. The buildings will be demolished and replaced with over 200 new transit-adjacent apartments.
“The Union/Grand location was the best available spot in the area,” he said, “where we could safely locate the station on a wide sidewalk.” Wiedel added that the site’s developer, Fifield Realty Corporation, paid for the move even though construction isn’t quite imminent. It’s been nearly a year since the development was approved, and so far no building permits have been issued.
The new location could prove more convenient for one group of Divvy users, though. The new Divvy docks are located east of Halsted Street, where most of the businesses around this intersection are clustered. Customers headed to Emmit’s Pub, Funky Buddha Lounge, or Iguana Cafe can now ride over without having to walk across the entire Milwaukee/Grand/Halsted intersection.