Divvy Bikes may ride into Oak Park

Grant program could bring bike sharing stations to town


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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

They're light blue, trendy and give anyone the access to a bike without the burden of purchasing one. Divvy Bikes seem to be all the rage in Chicago.

Depending on the results of a recent grant application, Oak Park could be next on the list of places home to the bike sharing stations. The village board approved last month for staff to apply with Chicago and Evanston as a joint applicant for a national grant that was recently approved by Congress.

The act, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) provides for a grant initiative called Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) that supports non-motorized transportation. According to a Village of Oak Park report, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is using a competitive process for select projects to fund under this program.

The partnerships among the two villages and the city involve submitting a TAP grant application to fund 80 percent of the capital costs associated with expanding the City of Chicago bike sharing program known as Divvy Bikes, a regional bike sharing network.

Oak Park's local match for the grant would be $161,177 (20 percent of the costs) and would bring 12 Divvy stations to Oak Park. But according to a report, bike sharing systems are "recovering 50-120 percent of operating costs through user fees and advertising." On average, it is expected that Oak Park would recoup between 70-80 percent of the costs. The annual operating costs projected for the 12 stations are around $230,400 with estimated revenue projected at $168,800. This leaves annual operating expenses around $61,600.

According to Oak Park's report, Chicago is pleased with the program and expects to continue expanding its reach across the city. Grant decisions should be announced in January 2014, but prior to accepting any grant, village staff said it will bring a bike sharing plan and any potential contract and/or intergovernmental agreement to the village board for approval.

Divvy Bikes, for those who haven't witnessed the blue and black wheels spinning through the city, is a new system that allows users to pay either $7 for 24-hour passes (30-minute rides) or $75 for an annual membership. The daily pass may be purchased with a station kiosk with a credit or debit card. Bikes can be returned to any station in the system, which has been reported as one of the major draws.

The $7 farecard rate is for customers using the bikes for trips 30 minutes or less. This means that users can pay that $7 and use it for a 24-hour period, however, they must drop it off at a station every 30 minutes to avoid additional fees. Trips longer than 30 minutes incur overtime fees. After the initial 30 minutes, it's an additional $2 for the second half hour, $4 for the third, and $8 for every half hour after that.

Check out the Sept. 4 issue of Wednesday Journal to learn more about Oak Park's possible involvement in the Divvy program.

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Stan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2013 2:09 PM

The program expanding to Oak Park is all well and good, only if there are Chicago Divvy stations, more thatn one, and in reasonably safe locations, that riders from and or to Oak Park can reach in 30 minutes. Otherwise, We don't need a Divvy system to get from Harlem to Marion.

Bike Rider from Oak Park  

Posted: September 8th, 2013 12:28 AM

I love this idea! It's ideal for visitors who come to Oak Park on the CTA and who want to see the Wright houses. It's a long walk. Over the years I've met tourists like that! One suggestion: we need more bike racks!

Lucas from Oak  

Posted: August 31st, 2013 5:13 PM

There seems to a misconception over what these bikes should be used for. I have lived in a city where this system has been successful for a long time. These bikes should not only be used for tourism/exploration but in particular to replace short car/bus rides. For example, Joe from Austin might use the bike to get to his work on Lake Street. He doesn't need to take the bike back and can instead a friend take him home. Divy will make sure that each station has enough bikes all the time.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 4:50 PM

Before Oak Park brings in another way to cost more than it returns to Oak Park, lets use a 100 thousand dollars, give it to a private bike shop in Oak Park to supply the bikes, and give them all of the profits. It's the same idea, but this way, an Oak Park business can be very successful.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 4:47 PM

Joe from Oak Park Joe has no problem figuring out if this is beneficial or not. It's costing more than it returns, and the only one who benefits is the private business who figured out how to get government to pay for it.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 4:45 PM

Jake from Chicago, you need to get the bike back or the prices goes up after the 7 dollars for the first 30 minutes. If the bike rack is full, you need to find another rack before you go over the 30 minutes.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 4:43 PM

Christine from Chicago (Lakeview) Go to the Oak Park Tourism board and you can find everything available.

Jake from Chicago  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 3:43 PM

OP would own or Co-own the system with Chicago. The reason that they would Co-own is that the Divvy bikes in OP would be an extension of Chicago's system and therefore compatible. The system is an extension of the public transportation system in this area, and is not meant to be a replacement for the longer bike rentals in OP. BTW the deal is UNLIMITED 30 minute rentals, the 30 minutes encourages turnover and allows the bikes to be used as a way to be the first or last mile of a commute.

Alan from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 2:12 PM

Just $161,000.00 in matching funds. Hmmmmm. So how much are the bike repair cost going to be when the tires and rims are ruined from all the pot holes not being repaired in Oak Park? To use a variation of a well known phrase. It's all about the infrastructure, stupid!

Christine from Chicago (Lakeview)  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 12:00 PM

Marty: I'm sure there's other things to see in OP besides Penzey's. If I had access to Divvy bicycles, maybe I could find out what those things are :)

Marty from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 11:52 AM

So a Divvy Bike will make riding the green line to vivit Penzey spice worth while, I mean riding the bike that whole block?

kathleen from OP  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 11:51 AM

OP's share would be $161,000? If the village has such funds available, I'd rather have all the potholes filled and other actually necessary services performed. No taxpayer subsidy for what should be a private business...

Christine from Chicago  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 10:53 AM

As a Lakeview resident who recently got rid of her car, the addition of Divvy stations to OP makes me more likely to visit the area, and spend money there. I can hop on the Blue/Green line, then get around OP with the Divvy subscription I already have. I have been wanting to go back to Penzey's, maybe someday I will! Additionally, OP residents who visit/work in the city could benefit from a Divvy subscription in their travels; having Divvy docks at home will add value to their membership

Violet Aura  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 10:50 AM

I love this concept but am disappointed with the price. $7 for 24 hours is a good deal but making people bring it back every 30 min. is ludicrous. I thought there was going to be a nominal fee for short trips (under 3 hours). Charging $2 would be more appropriate and garner more profit long term. Plus it is helpful for the very demographic that needs this the most!

Adam Smith  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 10:42 AM

While I personally will not be a user; I support the program and nominal subsidy. It is consistent with Oak Park's philosophy and may help tourism dollars spread throughout the Village while serving locals as well. Tourists may take the L from the Loop, then bike to different venues. Locals could use the service to bike to/from/near home to the Green and Blue lines and Metra.

West Looper from Chicago  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 9:48 AM

First, Divvy does not compete with any existing business. Day long bike rentals are a totally different market. Second, this is a modest investment in transportation infrastructure -- probably less than the cost of paving a few streets. Third, Chicago has had no problems with crime associated with the bikes. They are perfect for the purpose, but honestly no one would want a Divvy bike as a regular bike. Plus, the kiosks are very secure.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 8:42 AM

This program would at best run a $ 65K deficit (place burden Fed taxpayers via grants), & the density of OP is nowhere near that of Chicago. It's the density factor that makes it right for Chicago, but not OP. That's my main objection along with the fact that it's another cost with no real tangible benefit to OP, other than trying to make some feel good about trying to be "green". NO

Joe from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 8:37 AM

"The annual operating costs projected for the 12 stations are around $230,400 with estimated revenue projected at $168,800." - This is when you say no, this idea isn't going to work!

lynn from oak park  

Posted: August 29th, 2013 7:09 AM

Because of spelling and grammatical errors this article ls difficult to read.! Shame !


Posted: August 29th, 2013 7:05 AM

If they put the stations at every park in oak park then parks and businesses are easily accessible for everyone. Every neighborhood has a park and it would be a real treat to walk to my local park, hop on a bike and head to a movie or a restaurant. Best part of it is that my bike will be there when the movie is over.

C from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 10:31 PM

The bike rental shop on Marion, Greenline Wheels, supports Divvy in OP. Divvy encourages more people to bike, which is what GW advocates. They are a partial non-profit trying to promote OP as a bike friendly community. And it's $7 for 24 hours, usable in 30 min segments.

Jakob Eriksson from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 10:25 PM

I'm a Divvy member, and very pleased with the service. It does not compete or compare to traditional bike rentals - Divvys are available at a huge number of locations, and you can pick up a bike or drop it off within a couple of seconds. If you use it more than 30 minutes though, prices go through the roof, so it's just for commuters and short trips. Cuts my commute by 15 minutes! That said, I have a hard time seeing the use case in Oak Park, given our low density.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 10:11 PM

Chris from OP, I am in agreement with you. If people want to rent bicycles, then rent them, regardless of what town you are from. I don't think it's correct to start a venture that is paid with tax payers dollars, which profits a private business. It's not something that is necessary like fixing streets, etc.. If the Marion street bicycle shop wants to take a loan to venture into the business of renting bicycles using public property, then get the permission and get the loan.

Chris from OP  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 9:48 PM

@Q: If you are from Oak Park than you know we have a bicycle rental shop right on Marion. Any demand can be filled there. I don't really care if Chicago found a new way to waste money; OP doesn't need to jump off the cliff too.

OP Rez  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 9:38 PM

"They're light blue, trendy and give anyone the access to a bike without the burden of purchasing one." Ironically, there are plenty of people that come into the village to steal bikes "without the burden of purchasing one".

Q@ from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 6:40 PM

OP Resident #545 Chicago has a lot of bicycle shops which are private business. If it doesn't make sense for Oak Park, then it didn't make sense for Chicago.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 6:38 PM

S from Oak Park Banks get money from the Federal Government, loan it to businesses for a percentage and pay back the Federal Government for the use of the money. What you are encouraging is for a private business to convince people to pay for their business and then charge you for their services. Why don't you ask tax payers to give you money so you can start your own business and then charge tax payers.

OP Resident #545 from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 6:11 PM

The DIVY program makes sense for Chicago, but not for Oak Park. A best case says we subsidize this program for $62K per year, but common sense & history says to double that number. Plus the direct competition with a local private business screams don't do this. Trendy idea, but not right for us.

S from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 6:04 PM

Q, I don't know... why do banks use essentially free money that taxpayers make available to make their investments instead of supplying their own? I would rather my tax dollars go towards this.

S from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 6:02 PM

Oak Park would not be able to do this better/cheaper/etc than what ABS is doing with Divvy. Saying so is na%uFFFDve at best and more likely disingenuous. Also, to do our own thing negates the benefit of being able to pick up a bicycle here and drop it off at any other station. Finally, I assume Village Voice is joking about the thugs and a quick getaway. Otherwise, if the thugs haven't taken this tactic at gas stations, I don't see why Divvy pods would be any more attractive.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 5:46 PM

Why doesn't this business invest their own money into making money instead of having tax payers pay them and collect money. Created in 2009, Alta Bicycle Share is a leader in bicycle sharing systems and is the world's only company focused on bicycle share management and operations. ABS operates either systems in public-private partnerships with local governments around the globe:

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 5:44 PM

Visionary: http://www.oakpark.com/Community/Blogs/7-2-2013/With-Bicycles-for-All/

How To Make Others Pay For Your Own Business from Oak Park   

Posted: August 28th, 2013 5:40 PM

This is a business and tax payers are going to pay for a business to business and the riders are going to pay 7 dollars for 30 minutes is a lot to pay. Also, for the amount of giving the money whoever is behind this business is to much. If Oak Park wants rental bikes, then it can buy the bikes for a lot less, charge less money and provide a lock for the riders and a gps for each bike to pick the up.

Village Voice from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2013 5:38 PM

On the one hand, this would really leverage the value of an annual membership for folks like me who work in Chicago and live in Oak Park (provided the pods are suitably located). On the other hand, it means now the thugs can mug Oak Parkers and use their victim's own credit card to check out a disposable getaway vehicle at any of 12 handy locations. And won't this village-subsidized service be insurmountable competition to one of our existing downtown businesses?

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