I remember the rainy evening in late June, 2013, when Divvy bikes were first released in Chicago. A phalanx of the chunky, baby-blue cycles stood on kickstands under the Picasso sculpture. At the appointed time, ceremony attendees were invited to take them for a spin. The bikes were heavy and slow, but comfy and fun for a relaxed cruise.
Fast-forward several years and Chicago’s bike-share system is about to celebrate its fifth birthday on Thursday June 28. A week ago the network reached a milestone of 15 million trips. The 15 millionth ride was taken, fittingly, at Daley Plaza by one of the original 4,000 Divvy members. Impressively, she still has the special black key they gave to us founding members (mine broke within a year.)
Nowadays Divvy hits more than 20,000 rides per day during the high season, and over 32 million miles have been ridden overall. There are now more than 37,000 annual members. Recently the system launched the Divvy Bikes app, which allows riders to buy passes, plan routes, find available bikes and check them out, and locate open docks to park the cycles after they finish their trip.
Divvy is offering a slew of events and promotions to mark its fifth anniversary. The festivities start with a birthday party on Sunday, July 1st, at noon at Maggie Daley Park, 337 E. Randolph. The shindig features birthday cake rider awards, a cookie decorating contest, lawn games, a photo booth, music, and more. The first 500 attendees get a free tote bag.
The following week there will be five days of freebies for Divvy members who show their key at participating establishments:
- Monday, July 2: Free iced coffee at Dollop café locations
- Tuesday, July 3 (2-5 p.m.): Free chips and guac at any Chipotle in Chicago or Evanston
- Wednesday, July 4: Free ice cream cone at any Jeni’s
- Thursday, July 5: Free ride on the Chicago Water Taxi to any stop
- Friday, July 6: Pass for a free Divvy ride (emailed to members)
After that, Tom Limon of Adventure Cycling Tours will be leading a series of five “Divvy adventures” bike rides:
- Saturday, July 7: Divvy HQ Tour + Hubbard Street Mural Ride
- Sunday, July 8: Chicago’s River Bridges Tour
- Saturday, July 14: North Side Murals and Street Art
- Sunday, July 15: Pilsen Mural Tour
- Sunday, July 29: Chicago Pothole Art Tour
So there’s plenty of fun happenings to keep loyal Divvy fans busy this weekend. Speaking of which, check out my Chicago Reader colleagues Ryan Smith’s musings on why, though the bikes are still “ugly,” the Divvy system is more useful than ever nowadays.