Being an office of greater and lesser bike aficionados, everyone at moss owns and rides [at least one] beloved bike of their own but that doesn’t mean we don’t find Chicago’s young bike-share program very interesting.
Since it kicked off last June, Chicago’s very own share bike program has facilitated 2.3 million bike trips and done a lot to raise the visibility of biking here in the city. While it may not be quite as pervasive or heavily used as New York’s Citi Bike program (an older sibling of Divvy which started a few weeks earlier last summer) Divvy continues to grow with demand for new stations far outstripping the ability of Alta Bikes to supply (partly due to the bike manufacturing companies bankruptcy woes earlier this year).
Who’s Riding Divvy?
Chicago’s share bike program is still growing – another station expansion is planned for next spring and will bring the whole Divvy system up to 4,750 bikes. Hopefully increasing the station range and density … as well as continuing to improve and promote itself … will keep its user base growing. Divvy has plenty of room to expand among female riders (as women currently make up 31% of members and take only 21% of trips). We’ll be watching eagerly to see how it grows.
If you like studying maps of other people’s aggregated transit data … you’re in luck. Divvy makes its bike trip (not user) and open dock information available to the public and several intrepid coders have created interesting analytical tools based on that data. Gabriel Gaster (via Chicagoist) created a “heat map” of all the bike trips taken last year. Hover over any station and see all the trips that bikes made to and from it to other stations around the city. Here’s the trip map from our nearest Divvy station in Ravenswood.
Oliver O’Brien has included Chicago in his world wide mapping project of share bike programs. Beginning with London, he created a live map of dock locations and population which allows both real-time data and hour by hour animations showing how docking stations fill up and empty out during a day. Check world wide bike share data or zoom in on our home city. Its pretty interesting to watch the sparkle of stations filling and depleting as people snag Divvy’s to head around or (more likely ) downtown during the day.
What Divvy Does for Chicago Biking
Does it surprise you that Divvy has been a financial boon to Chicago bike shops? It has. In a Crain’s article published in June, local bike shop owner Paul Kozy is quoted attributing some of Chicago’s bike commuting increase to the Divvy system:
“More than ever, city people are getting on bikes, not just for fun but to commute to work.”
And the prevalence of Divvy bike stations, more bikes on the road, the visibility of the system etc are all making bike commuting seem more credible to urban professionals. These commuters may be renting Divvy bikes but they are racing to bike shops to gear up with helmets and bags. They may also be testing out the idea of commuter bikes with Divvy, then shelling out for their own once they are ready to commit. The same article cites a 30-40 percent jump in commuter bike sales (while other types of bikes have sold consistently with previous years).
More Bikes Means More Bike Culture
In the end, more bikes on the road – more concerned biking citizens – means greater visibility and safety for all of us. It means more interest in public support for protected bike lanes and for other bike infrastructure projects. And all of those are fine by moss.
Ride on, Divvy!