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Oak Park bails, but Evanston to stick with Divvy

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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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