Divvy is coming to Austin next year after Gov. Pat Quinn recently announced a $3 million grant that will expand the bike-sharing program to the Chicago’s West Side and suburban Oak Park.
No one from the governor’s office or the Chicago Department of Transportation responded to emails or phone calls seeking more information, so it’s unclear how many stations will be located or their exact locations in Austin.
But according to a news release, 50 new docking stations and additional bikes will be added to several Chicago neighborhoods, including Austin and Garfield Park on the West Side.
Malcolm Crawford, founder and director of the Austin African American Business Networking Association and owner of Sankofa Cultural Arts & Business Center, said the expansion will make it more convenient for customers to get to him.
“It’s an opportunity to access people who wouldn’t normally come into the community,” Crawford said.
He hopes some bike stations will be installed on Chicago Avenue where he and others have been working to create a business district.
The state grant, which reverses a decision Quinn made earlier this year to withhold the funding, will add 700 new bikes and 70 docking stations in Evanston and Oak Park along with Austin and other Chicago neighborhoods getting Divvy for the first time.
In addition to the state grant, Chicago will invest $550,000, and Evanston and Oak Park a combined $200,000, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office.
The city of Chicago launched the Divvy bike-sharing program in June 2013 and now has 3,000 bikes and 300 stations in a number of neighborhoods, but the program left out many communities on the South and West sides, as WBEZ and AustinTalks have reported.
With the new state and local funding, Divvy will add an additional 175 stations and 1,750 bikes.
The Active Transportation Alliance supports Divvy’s expansion into neighborhoods previously left out of the bike-sharing – and hopes it continues to spread.
“What we’d really love to see is Divvy expanded into all neighborhoods in Chicago,” said Ted Villaire, director of communications at Active Transportation Alliance. “That’s our goal, and we’d love to see it expand to more suburbs as well.”
Oboi Reed, co-founder of Slow Roll Chicago, a community bicycling movement that targets neighborhoods in need of improvement, agrees more needs to be done to expand the option to all of Chicago. It’s especially needed on the South and West Sides, he said.
“We want to see people on the South Side and West Sides bike more,” Reed said. “We want to see them have access to the benefits that’s associated with biking in Chicago.”
There are a lot of reasons black and brown people don’t bike in Chicago, Reed said; one being the belief that biking isn’t something African Americans and Hispanics do.
“Cycling is cool, it’s healthy, it’s doable, it’s safe,” Reed said. “That’s our responsibility as cycling advocates to address the cultural components that limit our people from cycling. However, we’re also suggesting that the city has a part to play.”
And that part would be implementing an equitable distribution of biking resources throughout the entire city, he said.
“We don’t have enough protected bike lanes on the South and West sides,” Reed said. “We don’t have enough streets that are simply safe to ride on, you know, free of potholes, and we don’t have enough Divvy stations in our community.”