Divvy bike-share program to launch June 28 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Divvy bike-share program to launch June 28

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By: Zoe Sobel, FOX32 News Intern

(CHICAGO) - Chicago's newest form of transportation and first bike-sharing program of its kind, Divvy Bikes, will make its debut on June 28.

The company aims to give locals and visitors, ages 16 and older, access to a bike without the hassles of owning one, while also providing Chicagoans with another choice about how they get around the city.

"One of the goals is to make Chicago the best big city in America for both cycling and walking," says Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the Chicago Department of Transportation, Sean Wiedel. "One of the ways to do that is to get more people on bikes and have people have more access to bikes and I think a bike share system is a great way to do that."

The bikes are designed to be used for short trips around the city and in collaboration with other systems of public transportation.

Wiedel assured that the share system is not meant to compete with other bike rental companies that are along the lakefront.

"We see this as a complementary service not as a competitor," he explains.

Once a bike is checked out, it must be returned to a station within 30 minutes or overtime fees will be incurred.

The stations are located near areas of high traffic including CTA and Metra stations, employment centers, shopping districts, medical centers, schools, and other popular destinations. There will be twice as many docking points as bicycles, to ensure that there will be nearby available docks for returning bikes.

Riders don't have to go from station to station as you would on Metra or CTA, however, you do have to go from Divvy station to Divvy station. Since Divvy offers many bike dock locations, you can virtually go wherever you want.

Initially, there will be 75 working stations around the city. Divvy plans to expand to 300 stations with 3,000 bikes by the end of the summer and then expand to 400 stations with 4,000 bikes by 2014. But, that's still just the starting point, Wiedel says.

Over the years, the city of Chicago has been working to improve street safety by building protected bike lanes and bike infrastructure that is comfortable for all ages.

Earlier this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel passed the 2013 Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Ordinance, which increases the fines on motorists related to "dooring" and increases the fines on bicycles who break the law.

Wiedel hopes that as more people are on bikes, motorists will recognize bikes more and drive more carefully around them.

Divvy Bikes is run by the Chicago Department of Transportation with operator Chicago Bike Share, a subsidy of Alta Bicycle Share Inc. which has designed, operated, and launched other large-scale bike share systems across the world including ones in Washington D.C.; Boston, Ma; Melbourne, Australia; and Chattanooga, TN. The program was launched with $22 million in federal funding and is the second largest bike sharing system in the United States.

The bikes are available to rent 24 hours are day and 365 days a year. Daily passes cost $7 while annual memberships are $75. So far over 1,200 Chicagoans have signed up for the annual memberships. Look for the bikes around the city starting June 28.

For more information on the program and to see a station map, visit Divvy Bikes' website here.

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