NEAR WEST SIDE — An already congested shopping center lost two free parking spaces after a Divvy bike station opened at the corner of Ogden and Race avenues, leaving those who regularly drive to the center concerned.
On Friday, cars lined the “No Parking” areas in the middle of the shopping center’s small parking lot.
The Divvy station — one of 117 citywide — takes up two free parking spaces along the west side of Race Avenue, just east of the center, which contains a Jimmy Johns, UPS store and Starbucks, among other businesses.
Race Avenue’s east side has permit parking, while metered parking lines Grand and Ogden avenues, the two major streets that border the center.
Those who frequent the area had mixed feelings about the station.
“They shouldn’t have put it in,” said Frank Martinelli, 54, who has a P.O. box at the UPS store in the mall. “You see how the parking lot is congested? I’m not happy about it.”
Parent Mintu Shah had just pulled up to a “No Parking” spot in the shopping center Friday to make a quick Jimmy Johns run.
“The bikes [are] a great idea, but parking in this place is horrible as it is,” said Shah, a 35-year-old pharmacist. “I just wish there was a better solution for parking in this city.”
With 400 stations across the city and 2,200 registered users as of July, the bike-sharing program has seen fast growth in Chicago. Annual memberships start at $75 before fees, and $7 day passes are also available.
The majority of the city’s 117 stations take up sidewalk space, while only 37 take up street parking, according to Chicago Department of Transportation deputy commissioner Scott Kubly.
Ultimately, of the 300 stations the city hopes to have installed by the end of summer, 90 would take up free parking spaces around the city, Kubly said.
Loading zones around several Wicker Park businesses also have been affected by the stations, with owners divided on whether the stations ultimately hurt or help traffic into their shops.
Jimmy Johns deliveryman Joel Barker gets around regularly by bike and said he thinks the stations are a good thing. Barker, 25, has worked at the Jimmy Johns at 520 N. Ogden Ave. since May and said he doesn’t think losing the free parking spaces along Race would affect customers, who he said mostly pull up into the mall parking lot.
For Montse Flores, who works at G & O Cleaners, 518 N. Ogden Ave., the Divvy station means one less parking space on the street, where she is supposed to park as someone who works at the shopping center.
“I park here,” she said gesturing to the mall lot. “There’s no parking around back. It’s an annoyance.”