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It’s electric! New Divvy stations will be able to charge docked e-bikes, scooters when they’re connected to the power grid

The new stations are supposed to be easier to use and more environmentally friendly than old-school stations.

New Divvy stations near 26th Street and Harding Avenue in Little Village. Photo provided by a reader. Lowell Nelson

This post is sponsored by The Bike Lane.

You've got questions. We've got answers.

A old-school Divvy station in Lincoln Park. Photo: Divvy

Recently longtime Chicago bike Lowell Nelson advocate reached out to us with some photos of brand new Divvy bike-share docking stations. Unlike the old-school stations, whose docks featuring docks with vaguely trapezoidal shapes, the new ones have sort-of round cross-sections.

Closeup of a new dock. Photo: Lowell Nelson

"I’ve seen these new docks in a couple locations on the Southwest Side," he said. "Do you know how many have been installed?" I promised to check in with my contacts at the Chicago Department of Transportation, which oversees the bike-share program, and Lyft, the Divvy concessionaire.

Nelson wrote back a little later that day. "I saw another one at the Orange Line's Pulaski station." He attached a screen shot. "The one pictured [in the photo at the top of this Streetsblog post] is at 26th Street and Harding Avenue which shows up online as one station, but you can see it’s installed in two sections."

Screenshot provided by Lowell Nelson.

"One thing seems to be lacking on the new docks is a wrench button to take a bike out of service," Nelson added. "Maybe I am just not seeing it or perhaps they don’t have one due to misuse."

A Divvy/Lyft staffer responded to my query. It turns out these are the new self-charging stations for electric bikes the company had been promising for almost two years now. "The next-generation docks are currently at 20 stations and are coming to another 150 stations by the end of the year," they said. They pointed me to a webpage on the new hardware, dubbed the "Pillar Dock", that lists these features for customers:

  • Easier Docking: "Completely redesigned locking mechanism that requires significantly less physical effort and will dramatically reduce failed attempts to end a trip." 
  • Reliable: "Each bollard can talk to the cloud and has both its own battery and solar panels, virtually eliminating instances of an entire station going out of service."
  • Intuitive: "Flip dots and a speaker are replacing the LED lights, creating a user experience that’s easier to see and understand, even for first-timers." 
  • Flexible: "Existing keys and cards will unlock vehicles with the new bollard. It can also accommodate both current and future docked bike and scooter models."  

The stations are also supposed to be more eco-friendly. "Vastly reduced power consumption and solar panels attached to the bollard’s battery means each bollard is fully self-sustaining," the webpage states. "It can go months – or in most cases years – without the need for human interventions like a battery swap."

That all sounds good, but what if there's no wrench button, how do you flag a dysfunctional bike for repair? "'Wrenching' is now solely in the app," the staffer replied. "Removing the physical button and transitioning to in-app creates a simpler and more reliable rider experience. It also allows us to collect more granular data on what may be wrong with the bike, helping our field mechanics repair the bike in the station more quickly and ensure they have the correct parts on hand."

All right then, it appears the upgrades to the Divvy dock system call for a round of applause.

Read more about the Pillar Docks on their Lyft webpage.

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