Divvy expansion leaves some areas feeling like third wheel
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Aldermen from parts of the city that will continue to be left out of the Divvy bike program — despite the bike sharing company’s recent expansion announcement — want to see the blue bikes in their neighborhood as soon as possible.
“It’s taking entirely too long for the entire city to be covered by the Divvy program,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), whose South Side ward covers the Roseland and Pullman neighborhoods. “I know I’m on the edge of the city, but people on the edge of the city ride bikes also.”
The most recent expansion, announced Tuesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will be complete by June and extend the bike share system as far as Touhy Avenue to the north, to 85th Street on the South Side and west to Pulaski Road.
And there are plans in the works to use state funding to connect the city to Divvy stations as far north as Evanston and as far west as Oak Park by next spring.
But it’s unclear when the far South Side will see any blue bikes.
Mike Claffey, a CDOT spokesman, said the city and Divvy are working on reaching all Chicago neighborhoods. A timeframe could not be provided.
Chris Taliaferro, who just unseated the incumbent alderman in 29th ward, which includes the Austin community, said that Divvy bikes can’t reach the ward soon enough.
“If you look through the 29th ward, you’ll see people here ride bicycles as much as anyone else,” he said. The “health benefits alone are worth the effort.”
The expansion announced by Emanuel will nearly double Divvy’s current service area since setting up shop in Chicago two years ago.
When the project is completed this summer, Divvy will have 476 total stations and 4,760 bikes, according to the statement. The expansion will double the service area from about 44.1 square miles to 86.7 miles and give Chicago the most bike share stations and largest service area in North America.
The capital cost of the current expansion – paid for through a combination of federal funds, local TIF funding and funding from system sponsor Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois — is $9.25 million. The original rollout had a capital cost of $19 million in federal and local funds.
Both Taliaferro and Beale said they will be in touch with city transportation officials to advocate for expansion to all parts of the city as soon as possible.