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Divvy Will Be a Subject of a Bike-Share Equity Study; CDOT Announces Free Cycling Classes

Ambassador Emme Williams demosntrates the “power start” cycling technique at an adult cycling class at Kennedy King College last year. Photo: CDOT

Along with Philadelphia’s Indego and New York’s Citi Bike bike-share systems, Portland State University researchers have been studying Divvy system, looking at the barriers to riding for low-income individuals and people of color. Some factors being considered are issues of safety, costs, and attitudes, including perceptions that new bike-share stations may be a harbinger of gentrification and displacement.

Slated for release in June, this will be the second report to come from a larger sudy, Evaluating Efforts to Improve the Equity of Bike Share Systems, conducted by Portland State researchers in collaboration with The Better Bike Share Partnership. The first report, released earlier this week, is an overview of how bike-share operators from around the country are addressing equity.

That study is based on a survey of 56 U.S. bike-share systems to document their current approaches toward serving low-income and minority populations. It includes an overview of how equity concerns are being addressed.

The researchers found that 23% of surveyed systems have adopted an equity statement or policy, and 7% are in the process of developing one. For a majority of surveyed systems, equity had influenced several aspects of their planning and operations. In particular, 68% of the systems stated that equity influenced their station siting decisions.

“This is particularly significant because low station density in less affluent neighborhoods has been a considerable barrier to equitable bike share,” the researchers stated. “Surveys conducted a few years ago indicated a much lower number of systems whose station siting decisions were driven by equity; an encouraging fact that suggests equity is becoming more of a priority for U.S. bike share systems.”

The majority of operators (72%) indicated that equity influenced their fare structure and/or payment systems. Over half (57%) of the systems considered equity in their promotion, outreach, and marketing. The researchers said that these efforts could help address one of the biggest barriers to more diverse bike-share ridership: individual perceptions of bike-share:

Operators responding to the survey indicated that many people of color and lower-income individuals may be dissuaded from using bike share due to negative perceptions of bicycling or bike sharing, or at least perceptions that bike share was “not for them;” perceptions which could be targeted through outreach and communication efforts.

The upcoming report, which focuses on the Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia systems, is also based on surveys of residents in underserved areas with recently added bike-share stations and outreach efforts, as well as bike-share system users.

In other Divvy-related news, today the Chicago Department of Transportation announced this summer’s schedule of free adult bike riding classes, hosted in partnership with Divvy and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the Divvy sponsor. The classes are intended to address one of the key obstacles to more Divvy use: concerns about riding on city streets.

Classes start June 12 and will be held on Monday evenings on the South and West Sides. Participants don’t need to have a bike, as Divvy is providing bikes for anyone who needs them.

“Whether you have never ridden a bike before or it’s been a few years or couple of decades since you last pedaled a two-wheeler, this is a great opportunity for adults to learn how to bike for the first time or brush up on their skills,” said assistant CDOT commissioner Sean Wiedel, who oversees the Divvy program. The classes are taught by CDOT’s Bicycling Ambassadors.

Participants in the two-hour long classes running from 6-to-8 p.m. will receive a free helmet. The classes are also open to children if space is available, however, children under 16 are required to provide their own bike, since Divvy does not allow riders under 16.

From June 12 – August 28, the classes will alternate between two locations:  the Chicago Center for Green Technology, 445 N. Sacramento Boulevard, and Kennedy King College, 710 W. 65th Street. In addition to the schedule and details posted at, the Learn to Ride program is also being promoted by Slow Roll Chicago and other community partners.

Classes will be held on the following dates. Call 312-744-8147 to RSVP or for more info. You must RSVP to attend a class CDOT can be sure that they have enough instructors available.

Chicago Center for Green Technology
445 North Sacramento Boulevard
June 12, 6 – 8 pm
June 26, 6 – 8 pm
July 10, 6 – 8 pm
July 24, 6 – 8 pm
August 7, 6 – 8 pm
August 21, 6 – 8 pm

Kennedy King College 
710 West 65th Street
June 19, 6 – 8 pm
July 3, 6 – 8 pm
July 17, 6 – 8 pm
July 31, 6 – 8 pm
August 14, 6 – 8 pm
August 28, 6 – 8 pm

For more information, visit the FAQ page.

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