Making Divvy work

Opinion: Editorials

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Oak Park's trustees were right last week to debate the future of the Divvy bike program in town. It was a healthy discussion with the right outcome: The program continues for 2018 but notice was given that marked and specific progress will need to occur for its long-term viability.

The village government did rather leap at the chance to expand Divvy into Oak Park a couple of years back when Evanston was also on board to adopt the rental bike program. It wasn't fully thought out, the set-up costs were high, and the ongoing operating costs are not for the faint of heart. It translates into a notable operating subsidy — in the vicinity of $200,000 this year — being paid by the village.

That needs to be dented this year, either through an increase in membership and rides or some sort of sponsorship dollars. It is clear to us that biking is a genuine and transforming mode of transportation in Oak Park. Also clear is the argument from bike enthusiasts that village government plows plenty each year into maintaining roads for cars. But resources will always be limited and there are other bike-related demands that could be substituted in the village's budget if the arrow does not begin to turn in 2018 on Divvy.

On a related note, good for the board for pulling the plug on the even more costly valet parking program in downtown Oak Park. This program, never well promoted, was simply unsustainable given the handful of shoppers who knew about it or took advantage of it.

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