Evanston rejected for grant for bike-sharing program


Paulina Firozi/Daily Senior Staffer

Divvy bikes sit at a rental station in the city of Chicago. Evanston did not receive an Illinois state grant it had sought in order to bring Divvy to Evanston.

Paige Leskin, Assistant City Editor

While approving funds for a bike path through Northwestern, the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program denied Saturday a separate application to fund the expansion of a Chicago-based bike-sharing service to Evanston.

An initiative to bring bike-sharing service Divvy to Evanston was not granted money from the state, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said Monday in an email to The Daily.

In August 2013, the Chicago Department of Transportation applied for $3 million in state grants to expand Divvy in Chicago and to the suburbs of Evanston and Oak Park. Bobkiewicz, with permission from aldermen, responded with applications for money from the state in order to show increased interest in the bike program.

During a meeting with the Administration and Public Works Committee in 2013, Evanston sustainable programs coordinator Catherine Hurley presented a vision for Divvy’s presence in the city. She expressed interest in building seven stations around Evanston, including some by the lakefront, two CTA stops and the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center.

CDOT and the city applied for money through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, which allocates federal money to Illinois transportation projects. The funding will support community projects throughout the state, totaling $52.7 million, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced Saturday.

“These projects will support hundreds of jobs while preserving our heritage, beautifying communities and creating opportunities for pedestrians, bicyclists and others across Illinois,” Quinn said in a news release.

Although no money was allotted for the Divvy program, Evanston and CDOT are in the process of applying for other state grants, Hurley said.

She said the ITEP program was the first grant Evanston had applied for. The rejection, she said, did not deter her excitement or hope that Divvy will come to Evanston.

“It’s a good catalyst to get conversation going between staff and City Council and community members,” she said. “The city’s still actively pursuing grants and applications to get a bike sharing program in Evanston.”

Although Divvy was rejected, ITEP awarded money for Evanston improvements to bike transportation. Illinois granted Evanston almost $1.5 million to go toward the project. 

The city detailed its plans for improvements in a news release on Monday. The project includes establishing two-way bike paths along parts of Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue, with a tentative timeline of starting construction in the spring of 2015.

The city is currently talking to the Illinois Department of Transportation and the governor’s office to look for more grants and funding to bring Divvy to Evanston, Bobkiewicz said in the email.

E-mail: [email protected]
Twitter: @paigeleskin