Aldermen will get an update tonight on plans to locate eight Divvy bike-sharing stations in Evanston and proposals for covering the cost.

After surveys and analysis, city staff has come up with eight proposed general locations for Divvy stations and plans even more surveys and a public meeting before recommending a final set of target areas to the City Council in January.

Then staff would work to come up with specific sites and hold a variety of meetings with neighbors to refine those recommendations.

The goal is to have the new bike rental system operating by next June.

The “consolidated locations” identified on the staff-prepared map above could potentially place at least one Divvy station in just about every ward of the city, except the 6th Ward in northwest Evanston.

While most of the initial $432,000 project capital cost is being covered by a state grant, the city is required to provide an $80,000 local match, which the aldermen will be asked to approve tonight.

The program is also expected to generate rental fees covering only about two-thirds of the annual estimated operating cost of $192,000.

So aldermen will also be asked to approve a plan to ask local businesses and organizations to help cover those costs with contributions in return for advertising opportunities at the stations and on program materials.

Related document

City Council packet with Divvy proposal materials.

More coverage of the Divvy program.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. $60,000 from the tax payers pockets per year

    Why not ask us to pay for one more of Wallys and the council feel good environment schemes, ask them about how many trees they cut down to allow NU to build the parking garage.

    When they have the time to run the water department like a business, and not a Ponzi scheme – I will listen.

    1. Junad and water

      Junad wrote: "When they have the time to run the water department like a business, and not a Ponzi scheme – I will listen." Junad, this was an article about bikes, not water. If you must repeatedly post comments alleging mismanagement of the water and sewage systems, you should at least make an effort to post them in a somewhat relevant space. For example, there is an article that appeared today (Nov 17) titled "Council to polish city budget tonight"….perhaps that would be a more appropriate place for you to put your various allegations of financial improprieties. When you have time to put your comments in relevant places, and check your spelling and grammar, then I will listen.

      1. Please tell us the profit the city is making on water sales!

        Enquiring mind maybe you should look at the water budget – if you want to enquire.  All levels of mismanage tie together – maybe you can tell us all the profit the city is making off the sales of water to its current customers –  it clear they will have to subsidize the bikes –

        In case you do not get it, then again we don't know who you are – far too many people in this commiunity benifit from the city – so they continue to support the waste here.

  2. Community Survey of Use ?
    I’m all for more bike [and much less car] usage, but has the city done a study or survey of people to find what expected usage would be ? or it this just another ‘sounds good’, ‘feel good’ project they dreamed up and ‘hope’ will work out ?
    E.g. have they asked a sample of:
    8-12 graders
    NU students
    stay at home parents
    residents to see if they would like this for: shopping, nature trips
    residents to see if visitor have asked them about bike rentals or expressed desire to see Evanston–e.g. nature trips Asked bike shops if they have been called about if they have bikes for rent
    If bike shops thought there was a need or interest, I would think they would have done so already.
    I don’t recall if Evanston bike shops ever did rent bikes but at least one place [Grove and Sherman] did rent roller skates—I don’t know how long that lasted.
    Divvy rental is not cheap. I suspect most people would buy or borrow a bike instead of paying those rates. Tourists, visitors to NU events, parents visiting their kids might be the biggest market—I did have one ask me ONCE about touring nature trails but did not even ask about bike rental.
    New bikes are not cheap, but NU does have an annual sale of used/abandoned bike
    The police use to but what I and the EPL librarian found now there is only a national online auction with delivery no where around Evanston.
    I never want to invest my money in such a venture but economic sense has never been a hall-mark of Evanston government decisions.

    1. Bike usage

      The minimum age to use the Divvy system is 16, so there won't be any 8th or 9th graders riding.  Even with that restriction, there is good potential for use by ETHS students.

      using Divvy to connect residential neighborhoods to the train stations makes sense for the commuter.  Regarding cost, the annual subscriber fee is cheaper than parking by the metra, even if the commuter uses the bike only in warm weather.

      My main question is whether Divvy will have its trucks in Evanston to manage the supply of bikes and open docus at each station as they do in downtown Chicago.

      1. Problem is lack of stations
        I am a Divvy member too and I agree that tt does make sense to connect Divvy to the train stations; however, they only are going to have 8 stations. Evanston has 7 CTA stations.

        If you look at the map of “Consolidated Locations”, they are only proposing two “neighborhood” stations: Church and Dodge, and Ridge and Oakton. They are also proposing a station at James Park.

        So what we have is a situation where the majority of our CTA stations will NOT be serviced.

        Additionally, the Church and Dodge location is actually relatively well-served by bus with four bus lines serving the intersection.

        The neighborhood station should be further south, like near Main St. and Dodge.

        I wonder if they actually mapped where Divvy subscribers in Evanston live? That would provide them with a built in population used to the sustem.

  3. People are going to use this

    People are going to use this at the train stations or at the lakefront – the "putting one in every ward" idea is a mistake.


  4. Everything that I have read

    Everything that I have read about the Divvy bike system is that it has been a money loser for every city that it has been based in. Maybe Evanston can charge a little more for the bike rental to make up for the 80k up front money and the potential loss on the rentals.

    1. Remember the solar collectors?

      I did not have the time to look into that mess – but the city – basically cover it up – they took the collectors from the company that went out of business – and claimed they will be used on other projects – I doubt they can charge more for the bike rentals –

  5. Divvy in comparable cities ?
    From the Divvy Web page. It sounds like they aim for big cities [much larger than Evanston] and mention the Loop.
    Did Evanston compare other cities our size, an Oak Park ? With college towns like Univ. Illinois ?
    As to one comment, I suspect commuters who would use it to get to a train station would buy their own bike. If leaving from Evanston, they would probably have to travel further to a Divvy stand, than to the CTA/Metra station.
    “People are using bike share systems in over 200 cities, including New York, Boston, Washington, Denver, Minneapolis, London, Paris, and Barcelona with more programs launching each year. In London, the 8,000-bike Barclays Cycle Hire program has recorded 4.5 million trips in its first year of operation. Washington DC’s 1,100-bike program was so successful that it has already expanded to keep up with demand.
    We know from studying bike share systems globally that to successfully launch, we must start in the area of highest use such as the Loop and River North. That way stations will be densely populated, leading to a system that is financially self-supporting. The Loop sees the most intensive travel demand in the city, so it is good business sense to center operations there.”

    1. Oak Park

      … is a town of comparable size to Evanston that is getting Divvy bikes under the same grant that is funding Evanston's program.

      — Bill

  6. The city can’t maintain bike

    The city can't maintain bike-lane markings.  Try Dodge from Oakton to Howard; lane markings in the block at Dawes School and the Levy Center are almost completly erased.  Seems public safety might have a role in the city before we go into businesses we don't know how to run.

    1. Southside Bike Lanes
      I have called this city about this a couple of times. The standard response is Dodge (and Asbury) are controlled by IDOT not the city so the city cannot extend bike lanes from Oakton to Howard.

  7. Divvy

    Hope our contracts are not like the City of Chicago, where the taxpayer is on the hook to cover 90% of the companies operating losses. So if Divvy Evanston expects rental fees will only cover 66% of the annual cost to run the program, who is on the hook for the annual loss? Divvy is also about to get unionized and the supplier to the whole system has filed bankruptcy, so Divvy losses may well increase as their operating and hardware cost grows substantially. Lots of nice buzzwords being used by advocates, and Divvy actually brags that they are able to retain between 50 to 70% of their annual subscriber base. Which is absurd, any business that loses 30 to 50% of their subscriber base should realize they have a serious problem. Cites like Madison & Milwaukee, Denver & Minneapolis have been able to install bike share programs without costing taxpayers or putting them at any risk. It's a nice racket, get the taxpayers to fund your infrastructure, collect fee's from both the users and the municipalities, and like Chicago, get a guarantee to cover 90% of your losses. Federal "grant" money is taxpayer money. Why can some municipalities pull this off without taxpayer dollars, why are we not following that model?

  8. Divy Info and Lack of Info

    I was at the meeting last night, which answered some of these questions and raised many others. As a starting point I encourage reading through the packet linked above, which has some helpful basic info. To answer one question- yes, there will be a truck, or possibly a bike with trailer, redistributing Divy bikes throughout the day.

    Re: location selection. The locations are not set in stone yet, but to develop these initial location 'zones,' the city used info gathered from the bike plan survey, as well as results from a study done by Northwestern industrial engineering students who analyzed data (who knows what kind of data) to come up with suggested locations. Why the city didn't just do some of things suggested here, which involve actually TALKING TO RESIDENTS who might use the bikes, is beyond me. The city could have easily gone to the high school, gone to commuter hangouts (bus stops, cta stations, metra stations) etc. and just solicited input directly from the community as a whole.

    It is obvious from the map that there is a huge void in stations on the west side of Evanston, which a couple council members mentioned. The response to this by staff was that, once the final stations are in place and being used, data can be gathered from them to determine patterns of usage, and changes can be made if necessary. The first question in my mind to that response was, how, exactly, do you gather data from a station that doesn't exist? So if high school students on the west side would have liked to use divy bikes to commute to school, but can't because there are no divy bike stations near their homes, how are you "gathering data" from them on how UNuseful the stations are? You're not. Of course, no one on the council asked this obvious follow-up question.

    Perhaps if members of our city council spent more time actually soliciting input directly from the community as a whole on their grand plans– instead of certain, isolated segments of the community– and thinking more critically about information they are being fed by their city staff, they would have more support from residents and not appear to be so disinterested in and disconnected from the interests, desires, and needs of their constituents, who of course are footing the bill for all of the city's grand plans.

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