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Divvy Launches Big Expansion, But Some Parts of City Still Not Served

By Ted Cox | April 21, 2015 5:19am
 Divvy stations are expanding out from their core locations in the city center.
Divvy stations are expanding out from their core locations in the city center.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — With a long-planned spring expansion underway, Divvy is covering more of the city, which means in some ways it is passing the Citi — New York City's bike-sharing system.

A map of the additional 176 Divvy stations planned for this spring shows the bike-share system extending to Touhy Avenue on the north, 75th Street on the south and Pulaski Road on the west.

Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Department of Transportation, which oversees Divvy, said the most recent expansion, which started rolling out last week, significantly increases the percentage of the city served by bike sharing.

"The expansion roughly doubles the area Divvy serves in Chicago, from 44.1 square miles, or 19 percent of the city’s geographic area, to 86.7 square miles, or 38 percent of the area," Claffey said. "It means that Divvy now serves 33 out of the city’s 50 aldermanic wards, up from 19 before the expansion."

 Ald.-elect Chris Taliaferro says the time has come for Divvy to expand to Austin.
Ald.-elect Chris Taliaferro says the time has come for Divvy to expand to Austin.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

Expansion Map

The Transportation Department points out that the new stations will bring the Divvy total to 476, more than any other bike-sharing system in the nation. It will also bring the total number of Divvy bikes to 4,760 over 87 square miles of the city since its launch just two years ago.

In the continuing comparison with New York's City system, the slightly older, larger big brother to Chicago's Divvy, the Second City remains the runner-up in number of bikes, as Citi has more than 6,000. Yet the spring expansion will give Chicagoans more locations to pick them up and drop them off, as New York City has about 330.

"This expansion is a major step forward for Divvy, the city’s newest transit service, as we continue to increase access in neighborhoods across Chicago," Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. "CDOT is committed to building on the great momentum that we achieved in Divvy’s first two years and extending the reach of the service to even more neighborhoods in the city as the resources become available."

Claffey said Monday about 35 new stations were installed last week, as the department plans to trumpet the expansion Tuesday. Divvy users can keep track of the progress on the stations page online.

Jim Merrell, campaign director for the Active Transportation Alliance, points out that the 176 new stations will be "more than a 50 percent increase" over the current 300.

"We're really excited to see the program growing beyond its strong foundation in reaching parts of the city," Merrell added.

Yet some areas are still waiting for the Divvy tide to reach them, such as Roseland and Gresham on the South Side, as well as the far Northwest and Southwest sides.

On the West Side, Ald.-elect Chris Taliaferro (29th) said patience was running thin in Austin, which was one of the things that drove his candidacy against Ald. Deborah Graham.

"Under her leadership, everything stopped," Taliaferro said. "That's a slight to the Austin community once again, and I'm gonna stand up against that."

He said anyone looking at Austin would see people already on bikes, and "it wouldn't cost a significant amount" to extend Divvy to the West Side.

"We have to put it in the mayor's mindset that Austin is part of the city of Chicago," Taliaferro said.

"The bike-share system is planning further expansions in Chicago as funding is secured," Claffey added.

Merrell said the "equity of the system" has been a consistent concern on the part of the Transportation Department and that "from Day One that's been a clear priority."

Merrell, and the department, counsel patience for cyclists in the far reaches of the city, but also point to the gains made by the expansion this spring.

"I think the plan is to not only expand the service area, but also to continue to deepen access," Merrell said. "The goal is to make the program accessible to everyone, no matter where they live in the city."

"I'm hoping it does make it out," Taliaferro said. "The Divvy program needs to reach to the Austin community."

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