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Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that Chicago’s popular bike share program Divvy has launched its second major expansion since it was launched in 2013, adding 85 new bike stations and pushing its boundaries out to serve new neighborhoods focused on the South and West sides of the city. When the expansion is complete by mid-summer, Divvy will have more than 580 stations and more than 5,800 bikes available. Stations within Chicago’s city limits will serve approximately two-thirds of the city’s population and cover more than 100 square miles.
“As Divvy continues to grow, it is essential that every resident in every neighborhood has an opportunity to participate and enjoy the benefits of bicycling in Chicago. With this latest expansion we take another step toward achieving that goal,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This new expansion will support neighborhoods across Chicago and provide a healthy, affordable way for Chicagoans to get to jobs and schools and to get exercise and have fun. This is one more way in which we are improving the quality of life in neighborhoods in all parts of Chicago.”
Divvy, which is owned by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and operated by the bike share company Motivate International, Inc., began installing bike share stations this week in the Garfield Park neighborhood. Over the summer, stations will be installed in new neighborhoods including Austin and Garfield Park on the west side; Burnside, Chatham, Greater Grand Crossing, Brighton Park and Englewood on the south side; and Rogers Park on the far north side.
Once all the new stations are installed this summer, Divvy, which defines its service area as being within a half mile of each Divvy station, will have increased its service area from 86 square miles to over 100 square miles in Chicago and will have increased the city’s population served from 56 percent to 63.8 percent, or 1.73 million people.
Since the system’s launch in June 2013, Divvy riders have taken more than 7.3 million trips and ridership is up 45 percent year-to-date over 2015. More than 750,000 Chicagoans and visitors have used Divvy, and there are more than 33,000 current annual members. Over 1,300 Chicago residents have signed up via the Divvy for Everyone (D4E) program. With this expansion, Divvy will become even more accessible to Chicagoans of all income levels, with over 5,800 bikes system-wide.
“CDOT is very excited to be working with Divvy to expand access and equitable distribution of what is already the largest bike share system in North America,” CDOT First Deputy Commissioner Randy Conner said. “Our goal is to continue to build on the great momentum that Divvy has achieved in less than three years of operation and look for more opportunities to expand Divvy to new neighborhoods in future years.”
Funding from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL)’s sponsorship of Divvy is crucial to this expansion. The city of Chicago is using more than $1 million in sponsorship dollars from BCBSIL for the 2016 Divvy expansion. BCBSIL has been Divvy’s system sponsor since 2014. In addition to contributing to this year’s expansion, BCBSIL’s sponsorship of Divvy has improved the city’s bike safety and equity efforts by supporting the Bicycle Ambassador safety education program as well as the D4E program, which offers an initial $5 annual membership for low-income Chicagoans who qualify.
“It’s great to see Divvy’s continued expansion of healthy biking opportunities for Chicagoans,” Maurice Smith, president, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois said. “As the system grows into new communities and offers varied pricing options - more people will have a safe way to commute that is good for their health and the health of our environment.”
The expansion was also hailed by Slow Roll Chicago, the grassroots bicycling equity advocacy organization.
“Slow Roll Chicago believes strongly in the social and economic transformative power of bicycles,” Jamal Julien, Vice President of Slow Roll Chicago said. “The addition of Divvy stations in new neighborhoods on the South and West Sides will encourage more residents of color to embrace the use of bikes as an alternative form of transportation. It also contributes to overall good health. The forward progress on expansion combined with the awesome ‘Divvy for Everyone’ initiative brings the community one step closer to achieving equitable access in all Chicago neighborhoods, which is very important to Slow Roll Chicago."
Divvy has been working for the last several months with Aldermen and local community groups to pick locations for the new stations. In general, stations are sited close to transit hubs and retail and recreational destinations with the goal of building on the city’s transit system and improving connectivity within and between Chicago neighborhoods. At the same time, CDOT recently held community meetings on the West and South Sides of the city to solicit feedback from stakeholders on which routes residents want to see prioritized for bike lane improvements that complement the Divvy system.
Divvy and CDOT point to data that shows the siting of Divvy stations has a positive economic impact. In a survey conducted last year, 68 percent of Divvy riders said they were more likely to patronize businesses that are located near Divvy stations.
Today’s expansion of what is already the geographically largest bike share system in North America comes just a few weeks before Divvy’s arrival in Oak Park and Evanston, which will get 13 and ten stations respectively, paid for through a state grant and local partnerships and funds. The expansion into Oak Park and Evanston is made possible by a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) with Chicago, Evanston and Oak Park each providing the required 20 percent local cost share match for their stations and bikes.
“Divvy member satisfaction continues to be high at 93 percent,” Divvy General Manager Elliot Greenberger said. “At the same time that Divvy is expanding, we’re also rolling out new features and services to improve the experience for our riders. That includes launching mobile access, improving our kiosk interface, investing in dynamic rebalancing software, and expanding our Valet Service program that guarantees riders will be able to dock their bike at peak times and events.”
Divvy has played an important role in Chicago’s transformation into one of the most bike friendly cities in America. Bicycling Magazine named Chicago the #2 Bike-Friendly City in their latest rankings in 2014 and the number of Chicagoans riding their bikes to work is at an all-time high and growing faster than any other mode of transportation in the city. Since 2011, Chicago has installed 108 miles of barrier and buffer protected bicycle lanes and now has 290 miles of designated bike routes.
For more information and to stay updated on expansion progress, visit DivvyBikes.com/expansion and follow Divvy on Facebook (Facebook.com/divvybikes) and Twitter (Twitter.com/divvybikes).
Also announced today is the Go Garfield Park program, a city of Chicago campaign that will run through September to help East and West Garfield Park residents take advantage of the neighborhoods’ many transportation choices, including new Divvy stations. The program will help residents rediscover their great neighborhood - by foot, bus, train, bike, and shared car.
Divvy is Chicago’s newest transit system, giving Chicago residents and visitors a bike on-demand at hundreds of stations across the city. Intended to provide an additional transportation option for getting around, Divvy is a convenient, fast, fun and affordable. For more information and a map of station locations, visit DivvyBikes.com. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is the exclusive System Sponsor of Divvy.