Need to get around campus? Try a Divvy bike

Videography by S K Vemmer


Update: Discount memberships are now available to UIC students, faculty and staff through the Office of Sustainability.

You’ve probably noticed lots of people riding blue bicycles in the neighborhood around campus. What’s going on?

Divvy — Chicago’s bike sharing service — has found its way to UIC, with seven docking stations on campus and more to come. Its name, meant to evoke the act of division and sharing, captures the nature of the bike-sharing service launched in June with 75 stations.

Divvy offers users the rental of three-speed bikes for 30 minutes at a time. The service offers annual memberships at $75 for unlimited 30-minute trips and a 24-hour pass for $7 for unlimited 30-minute trips. If the bike isn’t docked within 30 minutes, overtime fees are charged.

“I’ve heard nothing but positive things,” said Cynthia Klein-Banai, associate chancellor for sustainability.

“I think it’s a great as an additional way to connect the first leg or last leg of your trip.”

Klein-Banai, who described the bikes as “sturdy” but unable to go “super fast,” occasionally uses Divvy to connect to her train and get to the Loop for meetings.

Docking stations on campus territory include locations near the Daley Library and Library of the Health Sciences, Student Services Building, Student Center East, Stukel Towers and the walkways at 900 W. Harrison St.

Additional stations are set to open on west campus in September.

Although Divvy had some early detractors, ridership has risen to 325,000 rides and 950,000 miles logged since June 28, according to Streetsblog Chicago.

Bikes at a Divvy station

The Divvy station at 900 W. Harrison St.

“There’s no other form of transportation that has exploded over a 10-year period,” said former Urban Transportation Center director Siim Soot of bicycling riding.

“Biking is popular and becoming more popular.”

With an expected 400 Divvy stations and 4,000 bikes by spring 2014, Divvy could have a big impact on neighborhood and campus travel.

“I envision it to include the west side, as a way to get around campus,” Klein-Banai said.

Though there are currently no student discount fares, Klein-Banai said she hopes to develop a membership plan in the future, possibly using the Student Green Fee.

Chicago is one of the nation’s more bike-friendly cities, with about 120 million miles biked each year and nearly 16,000 biking commuters, Soot said.

Safety is a concern for urban bicycling, however. From 2005 to 2010, 9,000 bike-related accidents were reported in Chicago, 32 of them fatal, according to official reports.

However, with so many bikes already on the road and an estimated 4,000 more expected, Soot says fewer accidents are occurring as city drivers and bicyclists adapt to each other.

“This is a very positive trend,” he said. “We want more exercise — more people engaged in physical activity — and this is an important step to moving in that direction.”

More information about Divvy and bicycling in general will be available Thursday at the Cycling Extravaganza and Transportation Fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the lecture center plaza.

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