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The Inside Scoop on Divvy—Chicago’s New Bike Sharing Program

Divvy Bikes ChicagoIt’s hard to miss all those bright blue Divvy bike stations popping up around Chicago, and according to the company website, the fleet is now up to 4,000 bikes spread out across 400 stations all over the city. There’s no doubt Chicago’s new bike sharing system is an affordable and convenient form of transportation for many local residents, but not all share the same enthusiastic outlook about the Windy City’s trendy new bike rental program. Back in August we heard about two condo owners suing the city of Chicago and their Alderman over the placement of a Divvy Bike Station in front of their building, citing it will bring an invasion of people, trash, and noise to their doorstep. And of course we all know how John Kass, local Chicago Tribune columnist, feels about cyclists in general, but despite some negative publicity in recent weeks, the Divvy Bike Sharing System seems to be wildly popular among city residents looking for a cheap way to get from Point A to Point B.

The idea of a city-wide bike sharing program stemmed from a 2007 trip to Paris by then-Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, where he personally tried using their Divvy-equivalent bicycle sharing system called Vélib'. Upon returning, the Mayor started requesting proposals to create a similar bike rental system, convinced the concept would work well here in Chicago as well. It wasn’t until 2012 that Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, a company that also runs similar programs in Boston, New York, and Washington D.C., was awarded the contract to purchase, install, and fully operate the new Chicago bicycle sharing system, which is in fact owned by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Accessing one of Divvy’s trademark blue bicycles is as easy as signing up for a $75 or $125 annual membership, which depending on which you choose, gives members the ability to walk up to any available bike and take it to where you need to go, as well as offer some other convenient membership perks like five guest passes and a slick black Divvy t-shirt. Annual memberships offer unlimited 0-30 minute trips for your Divvy bicycle, with “Overtime Fees” being $1.50 for 30-60 minutes trips, $4.50 for 60-90 minute trips, and +$6 for each additional 30 minutes. For those without a membership, riders will have to purchase a 24-hour pass, which has unlimited 0-30 minute trips over that period and slightly higher “Overtime Fees.”

The Divvy Bike Sharing System has stations as far north as Andersonville and as far south as Hyde Park. Stations are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year long. During the winter months, the bike fleet will be somewhat smaller, but all stations will be open. For more information on Divvy and how it works, check out their website or visit them on Facebook today!

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