Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois logos will soon start appearing on the city’s Divvy bikes as part of a $12.5 million, five-year sponsorship deal the city plans to announce Thursday.
“The partnership with Blue Cross will help to expand the bike share system, improve and maintain bike lanes and encourage cycling in all neighborhoods across Chicago,” according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.
In addition to the logo, the city and Divvy plan to partner with Blue Cross and Blue Shield to promote “active transportation choices, like bike sharing, and how these activities can lead to improved health and wellness,” the mayor’s office said.
At a news conference Thursday touting the new sponsorship deal, Emanuel described the bike-sharing program as “a great economic success beyond a great public health success.” The program is so popular, virtually “every new developer” is requesting a Divvy station in front of their building, the mayor said.
“This has become the new bus station right here. And we passed a million rides. We’re well on our way,” the mayor said.
The decision to bring bike-sharing to Chicago originated with Emanuel’s predecessor, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who returned from a trip to Paris enamored with the idea.
But that didn’t stop Emanuel from claiming credit — and insisting that he had proven his harshest critics wrong.
“Three years ago when I proposed this, let me just suggest that it was not greeted the way Divvy is today. There were a lot of raised eyebrows, a lot of people [asking], `What European idea did you import today?’” Emanuel said, asking a question that used to be asked about Daley, who traveled the world and brought a host of ideas back to Chicago.
When the bike-sharing contract was first approved by the City Council, aldermen questioned why the stations weren’t located citywide.
But Emanuel said the sponsorship deal will make certain that “every part of the city participates” in the program.
“For us, this means there are more bikes for riders and more value for our taxpayers,” he said.
“This sponsorship allows us to continue to expand Divvy throughout the city of Chicago, making sure first and foremost that our residents use it as a new way to commute to work. It also makes sure that those come to visit our city….can ride Divvy and experience our neighborhoods, our lakefront — everything that we so much enjoy throughout the year — as they come to visit our city.”