Over the last few months, Streetsblog readers have been chomping on the bit to try the new electrical-assist, dockless option bikes that will be used for Divvy's citywide expansion. On Saturday, Chicagoans finally got their chance to try the sleek new rides, which were unveiled as part of the We Keep You Rollin' Eco Bike Tour in Golden Gate Park, 13000 S. Eberhart Ave. in the Golden Gate enclave of the Riverdale community. It's part of a series of neighborhood tours where residents can try the new cycles, learn about bike-share, and provide input on where new docking stations should go. (The bikes also have built-in locks, so you can secure them to racks or poles right by your destination if you prefer.) Here's the full schedule of events.
Deloris Lucas, the leader of the local bike group, said this area is a logical place to launch the fleet of 10,500 new bikes, and that she invited the company to kick off the expansion at her ride.
We’ve been established here with We Keep You Rollin' for four years now," Lucas said. "Every year I do an annual bike ride, and now we’re doing outreach with Divvy, because we want Divvy to come to our neighborhood. This community was part of the dockless bike-share pilot program last year, and we’re on the far south end of the city. So it would make sense for Divvy to start with us, and move into the rest of the city."
I took one of the new bikes for a spin myself. With a significant boost from the battery-powered motor, which tops off at 18 mph, it had the easy glide of a sports car, but with far less noise. Various residents at the event agreed that the bikes offer a pleasantly zippy ride, especially compared to the Clydesdale-like non-electric Divvies, after test-riding the new cycles around the neighborhood before the actual bike tour started.
Local resident Melodi Grant said the Eco Ride was a great opportunity for youth to explore Riverdale area on two wheels. "They really enjoy the opportunity to come out and ride. Even for the kids that have their own [non-Divvy] bikes, I think it's really fun for them to tour the neighborhood with other people, and check out different routes."
The Saturday event felt like a block party, with free water bottles distributed to attendees, and neighbors greeted each other as a DJ played classic R & B with a breezy summertime feel. Melodi's mother D'Andrea Grant said she's happy that the bike-share expansion is kicking off in the neighborhood. "We are happy about Divvy coming out to other neighborhoods," says Grant. "We are so glad and excited that this is the rollout, the first time it’s on the streets, and we have it at our event. We don’t have a lot of resources here -- we’re in a food desert, a transportation desert, and we don’t have the proper roads for riding [bikes]. So that’s what we’re trying to advocate for."
The neighbors said they hope that Divvy bikes will become as ubiquitous on the Far South Side as they are farther north. "We're looking forward to that happening, D'Andrea Grant said. "We haven't been given a date [for station installations] yet, but we hope that it's in the making. We want everybody to see that we're trying to do something good in the neighborhood."
On Thursday, disadvantaged business enterprises attended a meeting hosted by the Chicago Transit Authority to learn more about the Red Line Extension and the subcontracting opportunities available. The event took place at the CTA’s West Loop headquarters.