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Beverly Passed Over In Divvy Expansion That Includes Evanston, Oak Park

By Howard Ludwig | January 19, 2016 5:38am
 Divvy has passed on an opportunity to put racks for its signature baby blue bikes in Beverly and Morgan Park. An expansion of the bike rental program was announced last week.
Divvy has passed on an opportunity to put racks for its signature baby blue bikes in Beverly and Morgan Park. An expansion of the bike rental program was announced last week.
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BEVERLY — Divvy will not be coming to Beverly or Morgan Park this year.

An expansion of the popular bike-rental program was announced on Wednesday in a news release from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It included the addition of 75 new Divvy stations in Chicago.

The 2016 rollout will begin this summer and also include the first suburban Divvy stations. Thirteen Divvy stations will debut in west suburban Oak Park, and eight stations are headed for north suburban Evanston, according to the release.

Noticeably absent from the list was Beverly and Morgan Park, said Margot Burke Holland, executive director of the Beverly Area Planning Association.

"There is no reason that they [Evanston and Oak Park] should be enjoying things like Divvy that we are not," said Holland, who spearheaded an online petition to show local support for the bike program last year.

The association collected 2,500 signatures asking Divvy to come to the 19th Ward over a three-month period that ended on Oct. 1. These signatures were submitted to city officials and soon made their way to the top brass within the Department of Transportation.

However, the grassroots effort fell upon deaf ears, which Holland believes is a result of too few bike lanes on the Far Southwest Side and a lack of clear-cut hot spots for Divvy stations.

She also said that Divvy plans to expand incrementally throughout the city so that stations are linked. Thus, Beverly and Morgan Park won't be primed for the program until neighbors including Washington Heights, Auburn Gresham, West Pullman and others are onboard.

"I think Divvy is all about connectivity," she said.

But that strategy didn't stop Holland from arguing in favor of at least six Divvy stations for in Beverly and Morgan Park.

She believes the signature baby blue bikes would work well at the Metra stations at 99th Street, 103rd Street and 107th Street. Besides these local commuter and shopping areas, Holland also believes a Divvy station would be successful at Saint Xavier University in Mount Greenwood and the Morgan Park Sports Center.

Despite the setback, Holland remains determined and plans to lobby for bike lanes along Longwood Drive and elsewhere this year. Chicago already boasts 292 miles of designated bike lanes, according to Emanuel's news release.

"I hope once we get some bike lanes, I think Divvy will be soon to follow," Holland said.

Besides the suburban areas, Divvy's latest expansion will include Burnside, Chatham, Greater Grand Crossing, Brighton Park and Englewood on the South Side. New stations on the West Side include Austin and Garfield Park, while Rogers Park is the lone addition on the North Side.

The latest expansion will give Divvy 571 stations and more than 5,000 bikes in the Chicago market, up from its current 475 stations and 4,750 bikes. Even before the announcement, Divvy was already the largest bike share in North America in terms of geographic area.

"Divvy’s success since launching in 2013 is a reflection of Chicago’s investment in bicycling as an easy and reliable mode of transportation," said Mike Claffey, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation in a written statement on Friday.

Claffey also said that the expansion of the program in both the city and the suburbs was a function of a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation. Chicago, Evanston and Oak Park were responsible for 20 percent of the cost.

The suburban partners also set up their own contracts with Motivate International Inc., which works in conjunction with municipalities to operate the bike rental program, according the the press release.

"Our goal is to continue expanding Divvy, and we hope to provide even more Chicagoans with the opportunity to utilize the bike-sharing program. To do so, it will require additional capital funding, which we are seeking," Claffey said.

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