Divvy Security Reinstallations Speeded up, Possibly in Response to Our Coverage

A stolen Divvy, with a tasteful paint job. Photo via Sam Barker
A stolen Divvy, with a tasteful paint job. Photo via Sam Barker

Last week I reported in the Chicago Reader and Streetsblog that city emails reveal the current Divvy theft epidemic was essentially a crisis of the bike-share system’s own making. An August 31 exchange between a Chicago Department of Transportation official and the head of the company that manufactures the bike-share cycles and stations indicated that 500-plus bikes have gone missing, largely because of a short-sighted decision to remove a key piece of security hardware from the stations to make it easier to dock the cycles. The manufacturer noted that Divvy had been reinstalling the parts at a rate of only one station per day, which meant that it would have taken the better part of two years before the entire system was secure again.

Shortly before publication of the Reader article, city officials and Divvy staff told me that the pace of reinstalling the dock components had been accelerated and would be completed by December 31.

Yesterday, after I told a city official I was getting ready to go on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” program to discuss the theft problem, he provided more good news. At this point over half of the system’s 10,250 docks have gotten the security hardware again, and the reinstallations are expected to wrap up by November 30, a month sooner than previously planned. The official added that the theft problem also seems to tapering off since teens are back in school (“so they’re not looking for something to do”) and less people will be seeking to ride bikes as the weather gets colder.

I had a good discussion of the whole Divvy theft fiasco last night on the show with host Phil Ponce. You can watch the full interview here. If you’re in a hurry, here the topics we covered:

00:50: How we determined the scope of the theft problem

01:55: Why the missing security hardware component was removed

03:05: Divvy’s update on the reinstallations

03:30: How I first heard about the theft problem

05:00: Do I believe the city’s claim that the situation is now under control?

05:20: Are taxpayers on the hook for all the missing bikes?

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