A little over six months after the Divvy bike-sharing program launched in Chicago, the city’s most-populated neighborhood doesn’t have a single station — but that could change, according to a city transportation official.

Of the city’s 400 bike stations, just two are slated for the West Side, including neighboring Austin.

In November, the Chicago Department of Transportation received a federal grant to build 75 more stations this year, bringing the total number of Divvy stations citywide to 475. 

The goal is to keep expanding to the entire city, said Sean Wiedel, an assistant commissioner for CDOT and the city’s point-person for the Divvy program. It was always the plan to start with Divvy stations in downtown Chicago and keep moving outwards, he said.

According to Wiedel, some of the new stations will be built in Austin, but he couldn’t say how many.

Oak Park has submitted its own federal grant application for Divvy, and if the village gets the bike-sharing program, that has potential to benefit Austin, says Max Muller of The Active Transportation Alliance, a Chicago-based, nonprofit biking advocacy group. 

The alliance supports all residents using the bike-sharing program and for Divvy to be everywhere in the city and suburbs. 

Austin has about 105,000 residents and Oak Park roughly 54,000. Lakeview on the city’s North Side, meanwhile, has roughly 95,000 residents and multiple Divvy stations already. The main issue with the program is connectivity, said Muller, the alliance’s director of government relations and advocacy.

Divvy only works within a network, and Austin is so far west that it’s disconnected from that network, he said. And if the program wasn’t successful at launch, it would have been harder to advocate for expanding it to the whole city, Muller added. 

According to former transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein, there was a need to concentrate stations in areas with more businesses and residents. But one biker, who lives on the border of Austin and Oak Park, insists it’s not just about the number of residents.

“The whole program is geared more toward business than the bicycling community,” said Bobby Mitchell, adding that there’s a lack of viable businesses in Austin. 

“When you have a strong business environment, things like Divvy just fall into place,” he said.

Mitchell was part of a group of cyclists called “Red, Bike and Green” who toured the Austin neighborhood last summer. The group hopes to create a sustainable African-American biking culture that they insist is largely missing in the city. The group hopes some of the new Divvy stations do end up in Austin. 

Eboni Hawkins, co-founder of the group’s Chicago chapter, said she’s more interested in the city addressing infrastructure problems for bikers on the West Side, like the lack of bike stores and bike parking.

Longtime Austin resident Sarah Patton recalled her excitement about Divvy when it launched last June.

But when she learned there were no stations in her neighborhood, Patton felt disenfranchised. Patton, who has a medical condition requiring cardio rehabilitation, plans to buy a bike and start riding. She also suspects a hidden reason behind not putting stations in the city’s most populated community: that the city is worried about bikes being vandalized or stolen.

“I do feel left out. I don’t see why we couldn’t have it,” she said of the program. “People in Austin need to get places like everyone else, and we need a cheaper way to get around…I pay taxes; I should be entitled to use Divvy. 

“I think they’re thinking about crime because why wouldn’t they put them here?” Patton asked. “They had no problem putting them on the Gold Coast or Sheridan Road. I’m tired of prejudice against this neighborhood.”

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