Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dissing Divvy

Have you seen these around town?

They're cute, beach cruiser style, with teeny tiny blinking lights. Most of the riders are tourists. Most of the riders are rising on the sidewalk, oblivious to pedestrians scrambling to get out of their way. Most of the riders are helmetless.

Our alderman 46th ward James Cappelman is a huge supporter of Divvy. He calls it ride sharing. Of course it appears that way=$7 for a 24-hour Divvy pass.Except FIRST you have to pay $75 for a membership. Those tourists thinking they're getting a deal, get a credit card shock. That is if they still have their brains in tact. I see so many people on these bikes, all without helmets. Isn't it a city ordinance to ride with a helmet.

Next question regarding the Divvy program in Chicago--the bike stands are on city sidewalks. Do they rent the sidewalk? Does Chicago get a kickback or portion of profits?

Last year, the city of Chicago announced a controversial $65 million contract with ALTA Bicycle Share to operate a 4,000 bicycle bike-share program in the city. Chicago selected the politically connected ALTA despite the fact a local company, Bike Chicago, placed a bid that was nearly 40 percent cheaper.

Key facts about the Chicago Divvy bike share program:
  • First year cost of program is estimated at $28 million
  • Five-year contract is between city and ALTA is worth $65 million
  • Five-year cost is $17,105.26 per bike
  • Only $375,000 in annual membership fees collected year to date
  • Only $259,000 in 24-hour pass fees collected year to date
It’s quite surprising that poor revenues roughly equivalent to 7 percent of first-year costs during summertime’s peak ridership months translates to performance “beyond expectations.” If this is considered good performance, just how low were expectations to begin with? Perhaps the rosy comments from City Hall are more about political spin than hard facts.
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Don't get me wrong--I LOVE bikes and the whole idea of bike sharing is just so great. If it was actually a local bike shop or program that hired real people to help the renters get a good fit and quick over view of bike safety and also fitted the customer with a helmet. Make the helmet part of the package. Instead tourists are jumping on for what they think is a quick, cheap ride without real lights and without any head protection.

Divvy bikes are not helping the local economy or local cyclists.

On the other hand it makes Chicago and its politicians feel good about being green--green like money in their pocket.

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