Oak Park bails, but Evanston to stick with Divvy

Divvy bikes docked outside the CTA station on Benson Avenue this afternoon.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says he'll ask aldermen next Monday to approve a one-year extension of Evanston's agreement with the Divvy bike-sharing service.

Trustees in Oak Park, which joined Evanston in a suburban expansion of Divvy service from the City of Chicago a couple of years ago, voted Tuesday night to cancel the village's contract with the company.

Bobkiewicz says Divvy was looking for a multi-year extension of its agreement with Evanston, but city staff, aware of the growing popularity of dockless bike-sharing systems in other communities, decided to only offer the one-year extension instead.

The Divvy program launched in Evanston in June 2016, and city data shows that the miles traveled by Evanston riders each month were generally higher last year than during the same months of the program's first year of operation.

"The world of bike sharing has been changing pretty rapidly," Bobliewicz said. "There's pretty good interest among residents here -- higher than in Oak Park -- but the challenge is to ride the wave of usage and determine what people's preferences are."

Oak Park officials said only about 400 people were Divvy members there and ridership declined 11 percent from 2016 to 2017. Memberships in Evanston stood at 1,070 as of November 2017.

Bobkiewicz says city staff will be working with Divvy officials over the coming year to see how they can adapt their program to changes in the bike-sharing business model.

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Comments

Divvy Cost

Like most cities, Divvy programs has been very costly, even with government eating most of the start. Oak Park has been losing about a quarter million a year and Chicago even more. I have no idea what Evanston loses. There seems to be problems everywhere the program exists. Divvy makes money everywhere they exist.

Wally is sending a warning to the city council and the Mayor. They should think of another a cheaper solution.

Divvy cost

This has less to do with interest in the program and more to do with location. Riding a bike along the lakefront into Chicago from Evanston = nice experience. Riding a bike from Oak Park into the city via Chicago's west side = not so nice an experience.

Why Divvy is more popular in Evanston than Oak Park

Evanston's Divvy Stations are probably helped by having University Students. The most used station is Benson & Church and close behind are the three stations at NU.

Also the Divvy stations in Rogers Park get a lot of use. People will connect between Evanston Divvy stations and ones in Rogers Park a fair amount.

Oak Park does not have a big university, and the Divvy stations on in Austin are barely used at all. So Oak Park is somewhat isolated.

As for the public absorbing the cost of start-up, these costs are pretty low as described here.

Given that cities typically subsidize public transit, providing some funding for bike share seems reasonable to me. I agree there may be cheaper options in the near future. The dockless systems are in their pilot phase right now.

$2/mile is a heck of a

$2/mile is a heck of a subsidy for a bike ride. $80,000 subsidy and 44,000 miles ridden. And I'm wondering about those 1,000 members. With only 44,000 miles ridden in a year, a lot of those members didn't get their money's worth. Divvy really only makes sense for Point B to Point C trips, with Point A being your home. If your starting point is home, a used bike is going to be cheaper, faster and less tiring. Evanston doesn't have as many Points B and C. And for $80,000, we could have bought used bikes for all 1,000 Divvy members. I just don't see how this makes sense here.

Bike share that uses docks

Bike share that uses docks doesn't seem like it's meant for the suburbs. When the stations are spread out like they are in Evanston, using a bike means walking quiet a bit. Evanston would have to add a ton more stations in order for it to be practical for most people. But most areas of Evanston just don't have the density to provide many users for the station.

If Evanston wants it's residents to bike then they should build more bike lanes and bike racks, educate drivers on how to share the road, and better enforcement of traffic laws like speed limits and three-foot passing distrance around cyclists.

Love Da Divvy

Our family does not own a car, and we all have our own bikes, and we have two Divvy memberships. We are lucky enough to have a station within a block of our home and use it often, mostly for one-way trips. It's great for taking to the Metra, to Downtown Evanston, and to Howard Street for coffee at Sol Cafe.. It's faster than the bus, the train or walking. If you usually take a bus, but one isn't coming for 20 minutes, a Divvy Bike will get you downtown in that time. Here's a tip for how to share a membership. You can add your Divvy account to the Transit app, which will give you a code on your phone for unlocking a bike. My college daughter has the "key", I have the app. If we used the Divvy constantly, we would purchase another membership, but we don't. This just makes it easier to use than passing the key around the family.


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