Divvy Worst Winter Damage?

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Divvy Bikes in Winter

Divvy Bikes in Winter

CHICAGO — Like everyone else in Chicago, Divvy is gearing up for spring.

About 400 bikes were kept in winter storage, and 200 of them have already joined the city’s bike share fleet in anticipation of warmer weather, said Elliot Greenberger, general manager of Divvy.

The other 200 will be rolling out in the coming weeks, he said.

In all, Divvy has 3,000 bikes in Chicago.

Kyla Gardner says Divvy bikes were prepared for winter:

Though the city saw record-breaking snow and cold this winter, durable Divvy bikes fared well in the elements, said Erik Erkel, bicycle service manager for Divvy.

“One of the main things we see in winter is the saddles crack a little more easily because of the cold weather,” he said. “The other thing that we really see is just the elements. The snow and the salt and ice that gets on the bikes takes a little bit more to clean off.”

But the slush doesn’t do much to the aluminum frames of the bicycles, which were designed with sturdiness in mind.

“It’s pretty much a 40-pound bicycle,” Erkel said. “It’s very robust. It’s designed to withstand the elements a little better than a traditional bike would.”

Though tune-ups are “more focused in the winter months,” all 3,000 of the city’s Divvy bikes go through a full, annual tune-up throughout the year as well, Greenberger said.

In those tune-ups, the bicycles are taken apart, checked out and put back together. For many, that means a new seat, a new chain and new brake cables, Erkel said.

As the first day of spring arrives on Friday, Divvy is close to hitting a turning point of its own.

“We anticipate crossing a big milestone this month: 7 million miles ridden since our June 2013 launch,” Greenberger said in an email.


Divvy bikes are still visible on the streets of the city as workers take them across town to places hither and yon. The bikes seem to look as good as they did upon the rollout of the system a couple of years ago.

Statistics for Divvy are a bit deceiving. Each undocking and following reducing is considered a trip. So if you ride around for a day and dock and undock a bike several times each of those counts as a trip.

What is beyond doubt however is that the system is not yet sustainable. We need for Divvy to not have to find a new ‘sugar daddy‘ each couple of years who treats the service as part of its advertising budget. The hope is that the users will come often enough that their fees will support the system.

The beauty of BikeShare is that it offers a ‘zero footprint‘ within a city where bicycle use is concerned. Cars have long been thorn in the side of municipalities because once you reach the city on street parking is limited and rather expensive. And so parking garages have made a difference.

Private bicycles suffer the same problem. They have to be locked up while their owners use stores, restaurants of work. And since the number of sidewalk bike parking places is limited people end up locking to each and every pole available.

Bikes end up blocking precious sidewalk real estate. The irony is that bicyclists end up being as un-welcomed for their presence in the ‘pedestrian lane‘ as bicyclists claim to feel about motorists who illegally park in the ‘bike lane‘.

Divvy offers sites to dock its bikes that are clear of the main traffic on the sidewalk and are safe. People trying to steal a Divvy bicycle from a station have their work cut out for them. Divvy is the ideal solution for urban bicycle use.

We just need to get the so-called Urban Cycling Movement members to understand that even in Bicycle Heaven there really is no home-to-office door convenience for most riders. There they have large parking lots where thousands of bicycles await their owners. But from that site bicyclists actually walk on their own two feet.

I say this because while the McDonalds Bicycle Center is along Michigan Avenue lots of cyclists who could use it do not because they might have to walk a mile or so to get to their offices. I suppose this fact would greatly surprise the thousands of Metra commuter train riders who literally do just that each and every day.

And they never complain. Though to listen to the cycling commuters you would get the idea that they do it for their health. But evidently walking is not part of their regimen. Go figure!