On August 14, Chicago Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld announced that the city will be working on a plan to integrate the popular Divvy bike-sharing system into its Ventra electronic fare system. (Ventra is an electronic fare system for the Chicago Transit Authority’s Metra and the public Pace Bus system.) Scheinfeld explains that this integration will facilitate the crucial first-mile or last-mile access to jobs, schools and other destinations.
Recognized as America’s bicycle-friendliest city in 2016, Chicago currently has more than 200 miles of on-street protected, buffered and shared bike lanes, many miles of off-street paths, more than 13,000 bike racks, and sheltered, high-capacity, bike parking areas at many Metra stations. There are also more the 580 Divvy stations in Chicago, with 5,800 bikes to cater to demand. However, only 25 percent of Divvy stations are within 1/8 mile of a Metra station.
To rent a bike from the Divvy bike-sharing system, you can either buy a 24-hour pass for $9.95 (with an unlimited number of 30-minute rides over a 24-hour period) or buy an annual pass for $99 (or $9.95 per month). The annual pass allows the user to rent an unlimited number of 30-minute rides for 365 days. With Divvy included on the Ventra electronic fare system, this should encourage more public transit commuters to rent bikes instead of walking the extra mile to work, school, errands or just for recreational purposes.
Over the past decade, the number of cyclists across the city has spiked by 157 percent. Chicago has been a major bike advocate throughout the years, and it has a history of mayors that’ve been avid cyclists themselves. Most significantly, Mayor Carter Harrison Jr. campaigned as “the cyclists’ champion” in his first mayoral bid in 1897. Harrison was the first mayor to incorporate early versions of bike lanes in Chicago. Richard M. Daley, a cyclist himself, followed Harrison’s footsteps and expanded marked, on-street bike lanes in his two decades as mayor from 1989 to 2011.