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Divvy Ridership Is Really, Really Low In Englewood

By  Andrea V. Watson and Tanveer Ali | October 16, 2015 5:43am 

 Fahrenheit Ridley said many people prefer to take the CTA rather than ride Divvy bikes from 63rd and Halsted.
Fahrenheit Ridley said many people prefer to take the CTA rather than ride Divvy bikes from 63rd and Halsted.
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DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson

ENGLEWOOD — Just 22 rides were taken on Divvy bikes to or from the station at 56th and Halsted — the lowest usage of any station in the city.

The numbers are similar at the other four stations in Englewood, where the bikes have only been used 267 times through June 30, a rate far lower than most neighborhoods in the city, according to data analyzed by DNAinfo Chicago.

At the station at 56th and Halsted, the first ride was taken April 17. A total of 15 people have taken bikes from the station and seven have ridden to the station.

UPDATED: All of these stations saw more usage in July through September — usually Divvy's most popular months, based data on covering dates after DNAinfo's initial citywide analysis. The Halsted and 56th station had 85 total rides during these three months, nearly four times higher than in the months preceding it.

 The 63rd and Halsted Divvy station has a total of 87 rides.
The 63rd and Halsted Divvy station has a total of 87 rides.
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DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson

Here's a look at the other stations' usage (the first number is through June 30 and the second one is the total through Sept 30):

• 63rd and Halsted: 87 rides (217)

• 69th and Halsted: 61 rides (143)

• 61st and Eberhart: 48 rides (183)

• 69th and Perry: 49 rides (148)

The Englewood stations only opened in April, which is part of the reason they trail other stations citywide. But even among the 176 other stations that opened this year, they lag behind. At the other extreme, the station at Dearborn and Erie, which also opened in April, saw 13,687 rides in that time.

"We hope the ridership numbers will continue to improve over time, but of course, we also expect a dip in the cold weather months," said Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Claffey.

Stations in Englewood and the rest of the South Side with low ridership are also further spread apart than other neighborhoods closer to the city center, leaving fewer options for riders who need to "check in" their bikes every 30 minutes.

And some stations in North Side neighborhoods popular with bikers were also relatively slow to take off after opening this year. The station at Avers and Belmont avenues in Logan Square recorded 400 rides, while one at Central Park and Elbridge avenues saw 286 rides.

Overall, more than 2.5 million Divvy rides have been made city-wide, between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. There has been a 53 percent increase over its first year, the analysis shows.

So why is ridership so low in Englewood?

Residents walking near the station at 63rd and Halsted near Kennedy-King College this week gave a variety of reasons, from safety to convenience.

“I feel like maybe because everybody’s spread out or stays kind of far, so they just catch the CTA,” said Isaac Gonzalez, 20. He doesn’t use Divvy because it is much faster to take the CTA long distances.

“I was kind of skeptical because I’m like, 'This is Englewood,'” said Fahrenheit Ridley, 19. She hasn’t yet tried the bikes, but she said she might.

Don Robinson, 57, an Englewood native who now works in the community, said that most people prefer the train or bus when they're near 63rd and Halsted streets.

“If there was a Divvy station more on the corner of 63rd and Union, by the stores, it might be used a little bit more because you’re not so close to the train,” he said.

But Olatunji Oboi Reed, a biking advocate with Slow Roll Chicago, has been trying to spread the message that people should use the bikes for short trips between stores and not just longer trips.

Reed, who was recognized by White House on Tuesday for his work in the community, has said in the past that "short-trip activity" on bicycles could actually help generate retail sales — and vice-versa.

“More retail attracts more short-trip activity, more short-trip activity attracts more retail, and in turn we create more jobs, more eyes and bodies on the street,” Reed said.

Slow Roll Chicago has hosted recent rides in Englewood to encourage more biking.

“What drives us is reducing violence, improving health and creating jobs,” Reed said.

Divvy riders can pay $9.95 a day or $75 for a yearlong membership, while students pay $55 for a membership. Members can ride the bikes for the first half-hour for free. Additional charges apply after that.

However, a new program, called Divvy for Everyone, offers memberships for just $5 for low-income riders.

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