Council approves new Divvy station, city will launch membership subsidy program


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Divvy bikes parked at the Northwestern University Library station. As of March 2017, 13,166 bike trips have been started from Evanston since the installation of the original 10 locations in July, Evanston’s transportation and mobility coordinator Katie Knapp said.

Syd Stone, Assistant City Editor

Since the initial installation of Divvy bike stations in Evanston almost a year ago, the city has continued efforts to make the bikes more accessible for all residents.

Divvy, a Chicago-based bike-sharing service, aims to give residents an alternative option to travel between Evanston and Chicago, Evanston’s transportation and mobility coordinator Katie Knapp said. The bikes first came to Evanston last summer in coordination with Chicago and was funded in part by a state grant.

Aldermen voted at a City Council meeting Monday to approve the purchase and installation of a new Divvy station, which will include 10 new bicycles and be located near the intersection of Dempster Street and Chicago Avenue.

Knapp said she hopes the new location, part of an effort to generally increase mobility for Evanston residents, achieves the city’s mission by “placing Divvy stations that work well with our existing on-road bike infrastructure and also provide connections to transit options.”

During Monday’s City Council meeting, Ald. Brian Miller (9th) suggested that the city move one of the existing 10 stations that sees significantly fewer riders to the new location instead of purchasing a new station.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) said the station Miller was referring to — which is located in south Evanston — should not be removed before it has been in place for a full year. The station was installed last summer.

Evanston’s interim community development director Scott Mangum said the city will reevaluate statistics in early fall, once the Evanston stations have been in place for a full spring-summer biking season.

Knapp said the city will also launch Divvy 4 Every Evanstonian later this summer, a membership subsidy program that aims to make the bikes and other related services more accessible to qualifying residents. D4EE will allow riders to pay in cash at participating 7-Eleven locations to “reduce barriers” to Divvy, such as not having access to a debit or credit card, she said.

“We knew we would need to have a program that addressed the different levels of eligibility and resources that Evanston community members have and make sure we were being responsive to that,” she said.

Knapp said the city looked to Chicago, which has a similar program called Divvy for Everyone, for inspiration. Chicago’s fourth annual Divvy Week kicked off on Earth Day this year — April 22 — and will run until April 30, she said. In celebration of the event, Knapp said first-time Divvy riders can try a 24-hour pass for $5.

As of March 2017, Knapp said 13,166 bike trips have been started from Evanston since the installation of the original 10 locations in July. She said eight of the bikes were paid for by an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant, and the other two were paid for by a sponsorship through Northwestern.

Both the Sheridan and Noyes station and the Chicago and Sheridan station, located on Northwestern’s campus, have each seen 2,000 trips in the same time period.

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Twitter: @SydStone16