PORTAGE PARK — Only one of the four Divvy stations that Ald. John Arena (45th) announced would be coming to the Portage Park area is included in the city-funded bike sharing service’s expansion plans for spring.
Business owners in the Six Corners Shopping District said the lack of the now-ubiquitous sky-blue Divvy bikes near Irving Park Road and Cicero and Milwaukee avenues would deal a "setback" to their effort to bring new life to the once-thriving area by making it more bike-friendly.
"It's a disappointment for sure," said Six Corners Business Association President Levi Moore.
Heather Cherone says the neighborhood thought they were going to get more stations, much sooner:
The only station planned for the 45th Ward — the farthest west on the North Side — will be at the Irving Park stop on the CTA Blue Line, according to an expansion map released by Divvy.
In June, Arena announced three other stations would be built in his ward: at Six Corners; between Six Corners and the Blue Line along Irving Park Road; and at Schurz High School, 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave., across the street from where Chicago artist Nick Cave, the head of the fashion program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, plans to transform an empty building into a studio/gallery/apartment where he will live and work.
Divvy General Manager Elliot Greenberger said via email there was not enough funding for the additional stations to link the bike sharing network to Six Corners. Stations must be no more than a half-mile apart, to allow riders to meet the 30-minute time limit for rides.
Arena has offered to use money from the Portage Park tax increment financing district to fund the station at Six Corners as well as the one on Irving Park Road, but Divvy "would till need to find funding for another one or two stations to connect these to the rest of the network," Greenberger wrote.
Greenberger did not respond to repeated requests to answer additional questions.
In addition, Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff, did not respond to questions about plans for Divvy in the 45th Ward Friday, despite promising to look into the matter.
The expansion planned for early next spring will bring the system to 475 stations with 4,750 total bikes, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.
The city's Department of Transportation used residents' feedback to determine the new locations of the stations, which will extend north to Touhy Avenue, south to 75th Street and as far west as Pulaski Road, the statement said.
The Six Corners Business Association lobbied hard for a station, saying it would attract new shoppers and diners to the area — and help boost the area's burgeoning arts and entertainment district.
The effort to make Six Corners more bike friendly will continue, Moore said.
"We'll think of new creative ways to make the neighborhood accessible to bikers," Moore said.
Part of that effort includes an online fundraising campaign to raise $10,000 for three bike corrals that would provide parking spaces for 36 bicycles at 4018 N. Cicero Ave., 4015 N. Milwaukee Ave. and a to-be-determined location on Irving Park.
Businesses in Andersonville, Pilsen and Logan Square have gotten a boost after taking steps to make the streets and sidewalks more bike-friendly, according to the business association.
Eighteen new businesses are slated to open at Six Corners in 2014.
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