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How Chicagoans are using the Divvy bicycle sharing program

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Figures suggest that the program has helped members save money while helping small businesses make money

Flickr Creative Commons/Tony Webster

Divvy, Chicago’s bike sharing program, will be celebrating its fourth birthday this year, and to mark the occasion, the Chicago Department of Transportation has confirmed a major expansion which will add another 400 bicycles and 40 stations to the system. While the locations of the new stations is not yet publicly known, Divvy has offered up some new information regarding ridership data and usage patterns from members.

A large number of Divvy rides are made by commuters getting to work. According to Motivate, the bike share contractor which also operates the Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC and Citi Bike in New York City, 42% of Divvy members say that commuting is their primary use of Chicago’s bike sharing program. The numbers are higher for both New York’s Citi Bike (50% of members) and DC’s Capital Bikeshare (65% of members).

The numbers also suggest that Divvy can and has helped small businesses make money and its members to save money. Motivate says that 68% of Divvy members said that they are more likely to patronize businesses that located near bicycle share stations. In addition, the Chicago bike share operator says that the program saves its members money—on average, the savings are stated to be $754 per year on transportation expenses.

The operator adds that a third of Divvy members use Divvy to fill the transportation gap to take trips that they otherwise would not have taken. Nearly all Divvy members use the program to get them to another form of transit be it to a major bus or rail hub.

The figures certainly bode well for Chicago’s bicycle sharing system. Since its inception, the program’s fleet of bicycles has ballooned from 750 bikes at 75 stations to an anticipated 620 stations and 6,200 bikes by the end of 2017.