If you’ve spotted people riding powder blue “Divvy” bikes around the city of Chicago, you’ve seen a bike-sharing program in action that may soon be coming to Evanston.
Aldermen approved a resolution Monday night authorizing the city manager to apply for a grant that would extend Chicago’s regional bike sharing system to Evanston as a pilot program. Money would come from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), which plans to fund $17.5 million in bicycle and pedestrian alternatives in 2013-14 through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program, created by Congress in 2012.
If CMAP approves the program, Evanston would be required to match 20 percent of the cost of $427,500, or $94,500, which would come from the parking fund or short term bonds, according to city documents. City staff are also seeking financial support from Northwestern University, NorthShore University HealthSystem – Evanston Hospital and Rotary International.
Evanston is applying for grant funds in connection with the cities of Chicago and Oak Park, in order to connect a bike sharing program throughout all three cities.
Chicago launched its bike-sharing program, called Divvy, in the spring of 2013. As of Aug. 1, there were 117 stations installed around the city, and 4,000 members around the Chicago area.
Under the Divvy program, members can rent bikes and return bikes to any station within the network. Riders can buy yearly memberships of unlimited 30-minute rides for $75, or pay $7 for a 24-hour pass. Each docking station has a touch-screen kiosk where riders can enter the credit card information to rent a bike.
Divvy bikes are made of a one-piece aluminum frame to protect cables from vandalism and bad weather, and the heavy-tires are filled with nitrogen so they stay inflated longer, according to city documents.
If the grant is approved, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz told council members that Evanston will likely have eight docking stations, including sites downtown, on the south side of Evanston, at the Fleetwood-Jourdain community center and near the grocery stores on Chicago Avenue.
Other cities that have bike-sharing programs including major metropolitan hubs like New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, as well as smaller municipalities like Minneapolis, Boulder, and Columbus.