In just a month, Chicago will finally have its own large-scale bike-sharing program, providing thousand of bikes to residents via hundreds of solar-powered stations spread throughout the city.
The system, dubbed Divvy, will debut in June with a few hundred bikes spread throughout 75 solar-powered docking stations. It is supposed to rapidly expand after that, to total 400 stations and 4,000 bicycles by this time next year. The initial focus will be on the downtown and River North areas, before expanding to cover most of the city, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.
The program will eventually go from 63rd Street to Devon Avenue, and from Lake Michigan to California Avenue. 645 miles of biking lanes are currently in the works in conjunction with the program, but they aren’t expected to be completed until 2020.
The general idea behind the program, and its accompanying design, is the realization of a system that allows those taking short trips to do it via bike, rather than driving or taking a taxi or bus. Another key motive is to give Metra and CTA commuters a cheap, fast way to make the final leg of their trips, rather than by walking. (The CTA and Metra currently ban bicycles on trains during peak commuting hours.)
The Chicago Tribune has some specifics:
Many of the first bike-sharing docking stations will be near Union Station, the Ogilvie Transportation Center and CTA rail stations downtown. Users will pick up a bike from a self-service docking station and return it to a station close to their destination.
The heavy-duty bikes feature a step-through, one-size-fits-all design; upright handlebars with the gear-changer on the grip and wide, adjustable seats for comfort; hand brakes; a chain guard to protect clothing; and a basket with an elastic cord for storing items. The bikes will be outfitted with headlights and taillights that illuminate automatically as the bike is pedaled.
Bike-share customers will be responsible for the bikes while in their possession. The replacement cost of the bikes is about $1,200. No bike locks will be provided because customers are expected to park the bikes only at the docking stations.
For those interested, memberships are expected to be going on sale shortly, sometimes around mid-May. The yearly memberships will go for $75, and daily passes will be $7. Both options feature unlimited trips so long as they are under 30 minutes. Trips that last longer than a half hour will also be subject to hourly rental fees.
You can find more information about the program on its website: Divvybikes.