Saturday, June 29, 2013

Divvy bike share starts up in Lincoln Park

by Michelle Stenzel

Bike share is now available in Lincoln Park! As of Thursday, June 27th, there were a handful of bike share stations that had bikes available to use for people who had either signed up for a yearly membership ($75) or a 24-hour pass ($7). I've used the bikes now twice and took a ride around today to visit the six activated stations. 
Divvy bike share station on Lincoln Avenue south of Armitage. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
You can sign up for a membership or check where there are currently functioning stations on the Divvy Bike website. You can also use the free CycleFinder app to see real time information about how many bikes are currently available at each station. However, at each of the six stations, the actual number of bikes available was always higher than the CycleFinder app stated. For example, the map said that the Lincoln Avenue station above had six bikes available, when there were actually 12 when I arrived.  I guess it's better to have more available than the map says, but this is something that CDOT/Divvy/CycleFinder needs to improve. For people to use the app, we have to feel that it's reliably accurate information.  (more -->)

Lincoln Avenue is a historic Lincoln Park street, now bedecked with bike share. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
But first, what was my experience with the bikes and the system? After my husband and I purchased memberships,we received the key fobs in the mail. It was easy to activate them on line. After that, it's just a matter of going to a station, picking a bike, inserting the fob, and pulling the bike out after the green light comes on. I had a little trouble un-docking the second time, and I'll have to get used to lifting the bike a little and then kind of yanking it out. Then, I adjusted my seat (super easy), and off we rode!
Our first Divvy bike ride was just to get a feel for the bikes, and we included a stop at the Nature Boardwalk. Notice the convenient bag holder in the front, and the skirt guard. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
It's a very comfortable, stable bike, and the wide tires are great at absorbing bumps. It's easy to steer. There are three speeds, although only #2 and #3 are of any use to me, as the first gear makes you spin your legs as if the pedals had disengaged from the chain (that's the most technical I get). I like the color of the bike, and didn't find it particularly heavy. Supposedly Divvies weigh about 45 pounds, and my workhorse Linus bike (an upright mixte-style bike with fenders, chain guard, U-lock and wire basket) weighs 38 pounds, so it's not much difference for me.

Most of all, they're somehow a lot of fun to ride. When I took one to work on Friday morning, I got questions from a number of people along the way, including a pedestrian, a fellow bike rider, and even a CTA bus driver. It's a very social experience! Maybe that will fade over time, but for now, you'll need to bring out your extrovert when you ride a Divvy.

Back to the station pictures! After the Lincoln/Armitage station in the above pics, I went to the Divvy station at Fullerton and Cannon, next to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The CycleFinder was accurate for this one: It said there were two bikes available, and there were. This station will be popular with people going to the museum, as well as those going to the Fullerton Avenue beach nearby.


Then I visited the two stations that will serve the DePaul University campus and nearby residents and businesses. The first is a large station for the Fullerton Brown/Red/Purple line El stop. It's on Sheffield, just north of Fullerton, near Dominick's and across from the Lincoln Park post office.
A Divvy employee was answering questions for potential customers when I was taking pictures at the Fullerton/Sheffield station. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The second station is on Racine, just north of Fullerton. It's "behind" the Lincoln Park library, and close to many DePaul residence halls. The new DePaul Theatre School building patrons will have very easy access to this station.
Divvy bikes were available at the Racine and Fullerton station. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
A view down Racine toward Fullerton, with the new DePaul Theatre building on the right.  CycleFinder said there were three bikes available, but there were actually 10. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The next station I tried to visit shows on the Divvy map and the Cycle Finder map as being on Sheffield, south of where Clybourn crosses it:
However, that specific location just has cars parked on it, alongside a surface parking lot:
Blue car, blue motorcycle, but no blue Divvy bikes at the spot where a station supposedly is located. 
I rode around a while on Sheffield and Clybourn, looking for the station in vain. I gave up and headed east on Willow, and voila! There it was, on Willow just east of Sheffield/Clybourn. On the map above, it would be right in front of Amato's.
The mysterious Sheffield and Clybourn Divvy station is actually on Willow. The maps need to be updated!
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
And finally, I visited a station at the corner of Larrabee and Willow streets. This is not close to any businesses, but in the heart of a densely populated area, with many townhouse and apartment complexes, so it will be convenient for residents for commuting or running errands. 
There were six Divvy bikes ready to be borrowed at the station on Willow at Larrabee.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
These six stations are only the beginning! CDOT/Divvy will continue rolling out more stations every week for the next few months. This is the map of where all the stations will be eventually. Only the blue ones are currently up and running:
Six blue stations are up and running in Lincoln Park as of June 29,  2013, with all the yellow markers showing future station locations. Look for them in the next few weeks! (Map from Divvy bikes website.)
Have you tried the system yet? What did you think?
We're on Twitter @BikeWalkLP


  1. I just took my first Divvy ride in the Loop. No problems with docking / undocking and the website info seemed accurate. I think Divvy will greatly expand my lunch options!

    1. That's great to hear, Scott. Thanks for reading! -- MS