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What Happens to Divvy When It Snows? We've Got Your Answers

By Erica Demarest | October 25, 2013 6:34am
 Divvy bikes will be available year-round — except during severe snowstorms.
Divvy bikes will be available year-round — except during severe snowstorms.
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DNAinfo files/Patty Wetli

CHICAGO — As the season's first snowflakes touched down this week, many of the city's cyclists were left wondering — what about Divvy?

"All stations will be available year-round, though we'll reduce the bike fleet on the street to match ridership," said Elliot Greenberger, a spokesman for the bike-sharing company.

As winter weather rolls in, some bicycles will be moved to storage to reduce exposure to the elements. Divvy owns about 3,000 bikes — 2,400 of which are currently on the streets.

Moving even more into storage "gives us a solid backup supply of bikes to cycle back into the system," Greenberger said, adding that Divvy tracks usage daily and will always offer enough bikes to meet Chicago's demand.

Alta Bicycle Share, which operates Divvy, will handle snow removal at the city's nearly 300 stations — which cropped up this summer and stretch from Hyde Park to Edgewater.

A team of rebalancers, technicians and street cleaners already are responsible for daily upkeep, Greenberger said. Come winter, they'll load their vans with shovels, brooms and salt.

When asked whether stations could ice up — a common problem with the city's parking meters — Greenberger said "they can withstand a variety of weather conditions" but offered no specifics.

Despite the winter weather prep, Divvy will shut down for severe storms.

Greenberger didn't clarify what constituted "severe weather," but said Divvy will notify Chicagoans of shutdowns via press releases, the CycleFinder app, social media and email.

"Riders in the middle of trips will still be able to return bikes to stations, but won't be able to take bikes out," Greenberger said.

To date, there are 296 bike stations in Chicago, with four more on the schedule for 2013. Next year, Divvy hopes to add at least 100 more.

Chicagoans have taken more than 590,000 trips this year, and more than 10,600 people have registered for annual memberships.

Greenberger said on Tuesday — just a few hours after snowflakes were recorded at Midway and O'Hare — that he was optimistic people would use the bikes all winter.

"Yesterday and today, as the weather has gotten colder, we're still seeing thousands of trips taken each day by our annual members," he said.