Saturday, February 6, 2016

Divvy in Evanston and Oak Park

The recent DNA Info article isn't quite accurate with respect to Divvy's big picture. Bike share systems function best, both for users and from a customer service perspective (ability to perform routine service on bikes and redistribute between stations when needed) when there is a large contiguous network of stations. The system has been expanded in waves, with new service areas adjacent to existing ones. Beverly was not passed over. The Divvy system simply hasn't expanded this far southwest yet. Most locations in Beverly and the 19th ward are at least 5 miles from the nearest existing stations (69th and Halsted, near a popular cafe).

Those of you who were aware of B-Cycle's tiny attempt at a downtown bike share system will understand that bike share does not function well as a tiny island of only a few stations.

There are 4 enormous differences between these suburbs and Beverly in relation to Divvy and biking in general:

1. Distance to existing network of stations. Evanston: 1 mile to the nearest station in Rogers Park. Oak Park: 3 miles to the nearest station in Garfield Park. A lot fewer infill stations are required to establish a contiguous network of stations compared to our Beverly-to-Englewood distance.

2. Both suburbs have comprehensive bike plans that have been years in the making. They have networks of established bike routes getting year-round use and lots of bike racks in their business districts.  Momentum towards the Evanston bike plan started over 10 years ago. Oak Park's bike plan was introduced several years ago, but the groundwork was laid earlier. (2008 version)  (2014 update with resource links)

3. Both suburbs applied jointly with CDOT to get federal transportation money to buy bikes and stations. They put up money for the local match required for the federal grant.

4. The number of people riding bikes in Evanston and Oak Park is many times the number I regularly see on Beverly and Morgan Park streets.

I am encouraged that our alderman, BAPA, Beverly Arts Alliance and others are motivated to bring Divvy to the 19th ward.  For Divvy and increased bike use to succeed here, we will need to work towards better bike infrastructure (on-street bike routes), education and incentives, and more bike parking as needed. This will require time, persistence and patience.

Please don't give up on the idea of getting Divvy here. I encourage you to suggest station locations through the Divvy web site after checking the map for existing suggestions. If there's an existing suggestion in the location you want (green bubble), please click SUPPORT to show that you want it, too.

Please do it with the understanding that it is likely to take a few more waves of system expansion for the service area to reach us.


Anonymous said...

What I think might be key to helping more people in the 19th Ward embrace Divvy — and bicycling in general — is encouraging people to think of it as supporting existing local businesses and culture. (i.e.: Bike lanes aren't just a nice thing to have for bicyclists, they help put more eyes on businesses because people on bikes now feel comfortable riding down once dangerous streets). That said, what if our local agencies (BAPA, the 19th Ward offices, etc.) did something to help encourage the use of Divvy, if we get it here, by relating it to local points of interest? For example, create signs near stations that indicate how easy it is to ride somewhere else (5 minute ride to shopping ==>, 10 minute ride to the arts center ==>). If people can see Divvy as something that is truly engrained in the community and not just a top-down planning effort, I think it will have a better chance of success.

Anonymous said...

It's Jeff, by the way! I was hoping Main Street Beverly would show up as my name. Gotta get that changed.

Fargo said...

Another way to think of it - another way to get to local businesses without worrying about parking. It's great for a restaurant visit, a quick run to CVS, etc.