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Chicago meet Divvy, your new best friend

By: Dartunorro Clark (dclar4@uic.edu)

Chicago has gotten a transportation face-lift. Despite the re-routes amid the Red Line reconstruction project, which is an overhaul of 10 miles of crumbling tracks south of Roosevelt, the Divvy bike sharing program has been successfully implemented. Last Friday, the bike stations were activated and Chicagoans, and its many tourists, can now enjoy the luxury of an additional mode of transportation.

Divvy “consists of a fleet of specially designed, heavy-duty, very durable bikes that are locked into a network of docking stations located throughout a city,” according to the company’s website.

These bikes can be rented from and returned to any activated station in the system across the city. The newly installed program has 4,000 bikes and 400 stations across the city. The stations stretch as far south as Englewood, as far north as Rogers Park, as far west as Logan Square and as far east as Lincoln Park.

Unlike other transportation share programs in the city, such as Zipcar, where you have to return your vehicle to its original location, if you rent a bike on, say, Madison and State in the Loop, you can ride for up to 30 minutes and return it to any location near your destination (for example, Canal and Roosevelt) without the hassle and worry of getting back to your original location on time no matter how far you choose to travel.

The Divvy system allows you to pay-as-you-go or purchase an annual membership. The pay-as-you-go option is a 24-hour pass for $7. The all-day pass consists of unlimited 30 minute rides within the 24-hour period and you pay using a debit or credit card, then you are issued a code by the touch screen automated kiosk at the respective docking station to unlock a bike from the station.

If you rent a bike on Tuesday at noon, you return it on Wednesday at noon, for instance, and within that period you have 30 minute unlimited rides on any bike at any station.

But here’s the trick: one trip can only be 30 minutes. Point A to point B has to be within 30 minutes, then point B to C (and so on) will be another 30 minutes after you docked and returned your bike from your original point A to B trip. If, in one trip, you choose to have the bike for more than 30 minutes, you can incur overtime charges incrementally. For the 24-hours pass, you receive a new code free of charge each time by swiping the original credit card you used from the very first trip.

The second option, the annual membership, costs $75 ($6.25/month). For the $75 you can bypass the automated kiosk to receive a code and instead you are given a key to unlock a bike from any station across the city. (You can still incur overtime fees, but they are slightly lowered.)

divvy

In addition, since Divvy has just launched it is incorporating several perks to those who buy memberships now (apart from the regular $75); they call them “founding memberships.”

Buying the $75 annual member ship makes you a “pedal” founding member. This allows you to receive:

  • An Annual Membership for unlimited 30-minute bike trips
  • A limited edition “Founding Member” key in black (regular Member keys are blue)

Buying a $125 annual membership makes you a “gear” founding member. This allows you to receive:

  • An Annual Membership for unlimited 30-minute bike trips
  • A limited edition “Founding Member” key in black (regular Member keys are blue) Five 24-Hour Passes to share with friends and family
  • A black Divvy t-shirt in your size

Although having more bikes than stations is a plus, Divvy also has a convenient way of circumventing the problem of a customer walking up to the nearest station and there being no bikes. The automated touch screen kiosk includes a function that allows a person to find the nearest station to get a bike. Divvy also has their customer service number posted if you prefer to talk to a real person as well as a mobile app.

Ultimately, this bike share system is definitely creating a more efficient network for Chicago transportation. The bike share system is definitely long overdue in a city like Chicago. It gives the city’s many tourists the opportunity to ride through a diverse, culturally rich, and contemporary city with historic sites with a more intimate touch. And for Chicagoans, it’s the opportunity to enjoy their city even more as they get from point A to point B (in 30 minutes or less).

Although, some kinks do arise in this system due to software issues, it’s not a large enough issue to warrant any person not to try it at least once or even buy a membership. All in the same, bike owners and bike shops might find this system unnecessary or competing, but, again, it’s a nice alternative and allows Chicago to have yet another perk for its residents and many tourists.

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