Bike share has quickly become a popular form of transportation for people across Chicago. Chicagoans use bike share for running errands, commuting to work, recreation, and more. Most popular among the different bike share options is Divvy. Divvy bike docks cover more than 100 square miles of Chicago, giving commuters a quick and environmentally friendly way to get to work. Divvy, however, has no stations south of 87th street leaving South Side residents without this option. A new pilot on the South Side has taken off to offer residents dockless bike share.
A six-month pilot kicked off May 1st that allows riders to locate and unlock bikes through an app as opposed to a designated station such as the ones used by Divvy. Four different vendors have implemented this new system. Zagster’s Pace bikes and Uber’s Jump bikes are expanding their initial fleet of bikes.
Both Pace and Uber’s bikes offer “lock-to” equipment that the city wants these bikes to have. The city requests that cables or u-locks be provided to lock bikes onto bike racks or other stationary objects. The idea behind this is to avoid sidewalks that are cluttered with bikes.
The bike share companies Ofo and Limebike, which have also been a part of this pilot, will not expand. Each of these companies is limited to 50 bikes each due to their wheel lock technology that allows the bikes to be left anywhere. Ofo and Limebike have fought against this policy stating that “lock-to” equipment is inconvenient for bike riders. Although they are unable to expand at this time, the vendors are still allowed to participate in the pilot.
Zagster’s Chicago market manager, Dave Reed, says the company has surveyed riders and found over half use the bikes for commuting or running errands. The company is also working to install more bike racks to create more space for bike parking.
It is unclear if the dockless bike share companies have plans to expand into the North Side.