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Like a bike in need of repairs, a plan to add three second-hand stations to Evanston’s Divvy program barely squeaked through a City Council vote Monday night.

It took a tie-breaking vote by Mayor Steve Hagerty to approve the purchase, with one of the nine aldermen, Ann Rainey, absent from the meeting.

City staff said the additional stations would expand service to neighborhoods on the west and northwest side that don’t have easy access to Divvy bikes now.

And the cost to the city of acquiring the three stations orphaned when Oak Park pulled out of the program, Community Development Director Johanna Leonard said, will be just under $34,000 — compared to $165,000 for three new stations.


Cicely Fleming.

But Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, said a lot of people in her south Evanston neighborhood don’t like the bike lanes there and that she was concerned about putting more bikes onthe street without having additional designated bike lanes.

The Divvy program was rated the most expendable in a community survey of budget priorities last spring, but the survey assumed the program would continue to cost the city the nearly $166,000 a year that it currently costs.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that with a renegotiation of the city’s contract with the City of Chicago for the program, he’s confident that additional advertising revenue will fully pay for the program next year.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons said there’s a special value in getting more cars off the road and solving the “last mile” travel needs for commuters and that Divvy can help address that issue. She also urged that a Divvy station be added at the west end of her ward, perhaps at the intersection of Dodge Avenue and Simpson Street.


Eleanor Revelle.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, said getting people out of cars is important for the city’s sustainability and public health goals.

Fleming was joined by aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward; Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, and Don Wilson, 4th Ward, in voting against purchase of the new stations.

In addition to Rue Simmons and Revelle, aldermen Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, and Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, voted for the expansion.

Related measures to approve a three-year contract extension with Motivate, the company that operates the Divvy system, and with the City of Chicago for the marketing program were approved on 7-1 votes with Fiske casting the only votes in opposition.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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