In 2014, the Active Transportation Alliance advised the village of Oak Park on an update to its bike plan and about where to locate Divvy stations. At the time, we said Divvy ridership would likely be so-so in the early years unless the bike plan was implemented in parallel to create more comfortable bike routes, and unless more stations were added to make additional trips feasible with Divvy.

Although bicycling is growing, surveys show that most people don’t bike, and the main reason is fear of being hit by a car going to the store, school, etc. People won’t ride bikes — Divvy or otherwise — if they don’t have safe, connected bike routes that avoid heavy or fast-moving traffic. 

For the most part, we don’t have that in Oak Park.

Moreover, many Oak Parkers, and others who work or visit here, would love to let Divvy worry about oiling the chain, airing the tires and locking the bike, but often the stations aren’t near their trip origins and destinations. 

In short, successful bike share programs have better station coverage than Oak Park.

Given the cost reductions and revenue enhancements that village staff negotiated with Divvy, the influx of downtown residents who are likely to use Divvy, and the fact that cycling is a healthier and more sustainable alternative to driving, we thought it made sense to give Divvy in Oak Park another year.

That didn’t happen as the board canceled Divvy. But trustees said they want to support cycling in Oak Park. That would be a welcome change! Oak Park spends millions of its own dollars annually to subsidize roads and parking, including parking spots that are empty much of the time, but spends very little of its own funds on dedicated biking and walking infrastructure (beyond standard sidewalks), instead relying primarily on relatively small and inconsistent state and federal grants.

Nearly all transportation infrastructure is subsidized by government. Biking and walking deserve their fair share and don’t get it in Oak Park. Let’s finally change that, starting with implementation of the village’s bike plan, improving our busiest crosswalks, and ensuring that sidewalks are suitable for people with physical limitations.

Ron Burke

Executive director, Active Transportation Alliance

Oak Park

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