CHICAGO (CBS) — This is the day for a nice downtown bike ride, before or after the Blackhawks victory party.
Chicago officially turns on the Divvy bike sharing program with 750 bikes at 75 stations this morning. By next summer, the city expects to expand the program to 4,000 bikes at 400 docking stations.
City Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said the step-through bikes have totally enclosed chains, compatible with suits and skirts for business folk wishing to ride one of the bikes to work from train stations.
Annual memberships are available for $75 a year, and entitle subscribers to unlimited 30-minute trips. Divvy also sells daily passes for $7, allowing for unlimited 30-minute trips within a 24-hour period. For riders with annual memberships or daily passes, any trip longer than 30 minutes costs extra.
Klein said the prices encourage short hauls.
“We don’t want to compete with bike ownership, or bike rental. Those businesses are very important to the city. This is more like bicycle taxi. We want you to use it for less than 30 minutes,” he said.
For annual members, trips of 30 to 60 minutes cost $1.50, trips up to 90 minutes cost $4.50, and every 30 minutes beyond that cost another $6.
For those with daily passes, trips of 30 to 60 minutes cost $2, trips up to 90 minutes cost $6, and every 30 minutes beyond that cost another $8.
Klein said the bikes are a healthy alternative to cabs.
The commissioner said he wants to avoid Amsterdam’s bike congestion program, where everyone rides their own private bike, leading to entire lots devoted to bicycles only.
“Each person, on average, has three bikes, and so you have multi-level parking structures just for bicycles at every transit stop. In fact, their new beautiful museum in Amsterdam, they built an underground garage – not for cars, for bikes,” Klein said.
The program is launching with the help of a $22 million federal grant.
The three-speed bikes are painted Chicago blue, and have bells, height-adjustable seats, front and rear lights, and a front rack.