Divvy Grows Among Young Chicagoans By matthew zaiff

Since their inception in 2013, Divvy bikes have become a staple of transportation in Chicago. The Chicago Data Portal contains data on over 13.8 million individual rides, exemplifying the widespread acceptance by Chicagoans and tourists alike. I have found that the number of individuals aged 10 though 20 have doubled between summer of 2016 and 2017. Young Chicagoans are adapting to the bike sharing service similarly to ride sharing applications like Uber and Lyft.

The Shared Use Mobility Center is a public organization that works to foster shared mobility transportation such as bike sharing, and ridesharing. According to their website, “Bike sharing has the potential to play an important role in bridging some of the gaps in existing transportation networks, as well encouraging individuals to use multiple transportation modes. Potential bike sharing benefits include: increased mobility; lower transportation costs; reduced fuel use; economic development; health benefits; and greater environmental awareness.”

A rider returns her Divvy bike to the Lake Shore Drive station.

With over 580 stations and 6,000 bikes in circulation, Divvy bikes are an affordable alternative transportation in a city that is plagued with traffic issues. According to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, at least 10 percent of riders are between 16 and 24 years old. CMAP also indicates that seasonal ridership is a factor for riders, with the summer months always generating the highest numbers of overall ridership.

Divvy brand ambassador, Carlos Galvez, answers questions at the busiest station located in Millennium Park.

The Chicago Data Portal is a resource that allows anyone to access public information throughout the city. Divvy is transparent with their data, allowing any of it to be accessed. The bike sharing company posted over 13 million points of data that all translate to individual bike rentals. Everything from the rider’s age and gender to the Divvy station name and overall bike rental duration are available.

In order to examine riders that are in the younger categories, the mass of data was filtered, first by age. A filter of identify all riders between the ages of 16 and 20 was applied, after that the time that the trip took place was filtered. The parameters were rides that occurred between May and September, as the warm months feature the highest traffic of riders. And finally, the rides examined must be at least 2 hours in overall duration, or the time from the bike was removed from one location and later returned to any Divvy station. With the aforementioned filters in place, data was pulled from 2016 and 2017.

DePaul junior, Bryan Rosenblum, purchases a single ride pass in Lincoln Park.

According to the Chicago Data Portal, in 2016 there were 10 riders that met the parameters of the search. That figure doubled for 2017 where the result was 21 riders. This finding indicates that overall ridership among 16 though 20-year-olds is increasing.

“The data does support that bike ridership is increasing year to year, and more younger riders are using ride sharing,” says Ride Illinois team member, Elizabeth Adamczyk. Ride Illinois is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving bicycling conditions throughout Illinois, and act as advocates on behalf of cyclists statewide. “In general, I personally believe Divvy and bike riding as a mode to be an accessible transit option to riders ages 16 and older with parental/guardian consent,” said Adamczyk. “It's also a low cost and efficient way to get places in the city.”

A female Divvy customer rides down the Chicago Lakefront Trail.

With popular ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, young riders are making an active decision to ride Divvy rather than take a car service. According to Jacquelyn Adamson, Divvy will always be a more attractive means of transportation. “I choose to use the bike sharing service Divvy because my work does not have access to the train and I do not really understand how to take the bus,” said the 20-year-old DePaul student. “I enjoy riding my bike throughout the streets of Chicago because I am able to adventure streets I do not know additionally Divvy is way cheaper and allows me to get to my destination while exercising,” said Adamson.

DePaul sophomore, Jacquelyn Adams, climbs onto a Divvy bike at the State Street and Van Buren Street station.

In addition to serving as transportation for commuters, other young Chicagoans enjoy Divvy bikes for recreational activities. “Divvy bikes make getting around the city fast, easy and fun,” said Michelle Cunningham, a 21-year-old DePaul student. “I love that I can grab a Divvy in Old Town and drop it off by my friend’s place in the South Loop.”

Divvy field mechanic, Willie Jackson, finishes working at the Columbus Drive and Randolph Street station.

Divvy has proven that there is strong demand for bike sharing in Chicago. Their ease of use and extensive network of stations has solidified company as a mainstay Chicago transportation. Young riders are drawn to the benefits of the bike sharing company and their overall numbers will likely continue to grow. 2018 marked a change in the pricing for Divvy. Now riders can opt for a $3 single ride for 30 minutes or less. Additionally, Divvy introduced the new $15 “Explorer Pass” which grants unlimited 45-minute rides during a 24-hour period.

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