Divvy expansion will launch Roseland, Washington Heights and Beverly with 2,400 bikes
Representatives from Lyft, including former Active Transportation Alliance director Ron Burke, gave a presentation at last week’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting to share information on Divvy’s 2019 expansion.
Divvy will be expanding into the Far South Side this fall and winter. The expansion area is the 15 square mile mile area bounded by 79th Street, 113th Street, Doty Avenue, and Western Avenue. 2,400 bikes will be added to the system, including 500 new, “Chicago blue” non-electric blue cycles and 1,900 black electrical-assist bikes.
30 stations will be installed in this area, with an average of 17 docks per station (some stations will have more or fewer slots based on anticipated use.) As with the non-electric cycles, users of the new e-bikes will not be required to remain in the expansion zone. Divvy employees will be tasked with ensuring the e-bikes are distributed equally across the entire Divvy service area.
Locations for the new stations will be decided based on community feedback from community bike tours Divvy cohosted on the South Side, community roundtables, and the “Suggest a Location” tool on Divvy’s website. Similar to how existing Divvy stations were placed, many of the new stations will be installed near transit stops and community anchors such as schools, parks, shopping centers, and libraries. According to CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey, local aldermen will be invited to review and provide feedback on proposed locations but, unlike in earlier rounds of Divvy installations, they won’t necessarily have veto power.
At the MBAC meeting Burke, now working as head of micromobility policy in the central U.S. for Lyft, was joined by Jon Stiffler, the company’s manager of growth operations for bikes and scooters. They stated that community engagement was a big part of their expansion strategy, saying that Divvy wanted to generate excitement and buy-in from residents in the expansion area as well as getting their opinions on where the system should expand in their neighborhoods.
There were three parts to their community engagement strategy. One aspect of this process I was happy to hear about was Divvy’s Bike Mechanic Boot Camp. This program aims to teach bike maintenance and repair skills to youth along with resume writing, personal finance, and business planning skills. Young people were also given the opportunity to interview with Divvy for a job.
In addition to providing jobs skills, Lyft provided grants to 15 community organizations, such as Friends of Big Marsh, Think Outside the Block, We Keep You Rollin’, and West Town Bikes, totaling $100K, for assistance in promoting Divvy use in low to moderate-income communities. Lastly, the roundtables provided an opportunity for community members to weigh in on station placement, talk about how they will use the bike-share system, and provide feedback on needed bike infrastructure in their neighborhood, such as bike lanes, racks, and trails.
Burke said that clusters of bike racks, called hubs, may be installed in the service area, since the new e-bikes have built-in locks that allow them to be secured to racks and poles, not just docking stations. “But we’re not taking out any car parking for that, because we know that vehicle parking is a God-given right,” joked assistant CDOT commissioner Sean Wiedel.
We Keep You Rollin’ leader Deloris Lucas had previously requested that the city prioritize the Riverdale community, located east of the expansion zone, for getting Divvy stations, but she didn’t seem to bring up that issue during the meeting. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but we’ll update this piece if we hear from her.
As for me, I’m excited to see the Divvy system expand and look forward to hopping on an e-bike!