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Divvy debut: 700 bikes ready to ride Friday

Divvy annual member Christine Burd was one first Chicagoans try out brnew Divvy bike last month. Sun-Times File Phoby

Divvy annual member Christine Burd was one of the first Chicagoans to try out a brand new Divvy bike last month. Sun-Times File Photo by Rosalind Ross.

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Updated: July 30, 2013 8:25AM



Seven hundred brand-new bicycles — available through the city’s new Divvy bike-share program — will be among the public transportation options for Blackhawk fans going to the city’s Stanley Cup celebration Friday.

The bright blue three-speed bikes will be stocked by no later than 12:01 a.m. Friday in all but four of 65 bike-docking stations scattered throughout Chicago for Divvy’s debut.

Four bike-docking stations along or near the Blackhawks parade route and rally won’t be open until noon Friday to prevent fans from climbing on top of them to get a better view of the celebration, said Peter Scales, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Those four stations are at Clinton and Washington; Clinton and Madison; Daley Center Plaza, and at Michigan and Randolph near the Cultural Center.

More than 1500 cycling fans already have signed up for $75 annual Divvy memberships. Despite a downpour, about 30 showed up Thursday evening for a special Daley Center Plaza event that allowed “founding” bike-share members to be the first to ride the bikes.

“Rain is a sign of birth, renewal and change,’’ Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said beneath an umbrella. “So maybe this is auspicious and not a bummer.’’

Other riders can get a one-day pass for $7 for an unlimited number of 30-minute rides from one bike-docking station to another within a 24-hour period. Only credit or debit cards are accepted at docking kiosks.

If Blackhawk fans grab a Divvy bike Friday morning near Union Station and ride it to the Divvy docking station at Dearborn and Madison, they could face a $2 late fee if crowds of people slow their ride and they go over the 30-minute limit.

If that happens, Elliot Greenberger, Divvy marketing manager, urges riders to call the 24/7 customer service number on their bikes. He anticipated that “we’d be understanding with those edge-case scenarios.’’

If riders find a docking station already full, they should hit the “Station Full” button on the Divvy kiosk to get a 15-minute extension and notice of the closest docking station with open slots, Greenberger said.

Despite the crowds expected downtown on Friday, Scales said Blackhawks fans may want to consider Divvy as an option to get them a few blocks closer to the celebration.

“It’s going to be a beautiful day tomorrow,’’ Scales said. “If they need to cover three, four, five blocks quickly, they could buy a 24-hour pass and try it out.’’

Five Divvy vans will be electronically monitoring bike availability by station so Divvy can “rebalance’’ bike supplies throughout the day, officials said. By Monday, 75 docking stations will be open for use.

The Divvy bikes are brand-new three-speeds with “step-through” frames, a bell, a front basket, adjustable seats and covered gears.

At Thursday evening’s founding member event, Christine Burd, 39, a financial systems analyst, said she appreciated the chain guard, which allows her to ride a bike in dress slacks without worry. As the raindrops waned, she hopped on a spanking new Divvy bike for a ride home through puddles to the West Loop.

“I used to commute every day on my bike, so a little rain is no big deal,’’ Burd said.

Divvy is operated by Chicago Bike Share, a wholly owned subsidy of Alta Bicycle Share, Inc., which also manages bike-share programs in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Divvy’s Chicago debut already was delayed by two weeks to ensure that officials had ironed out any kinks. Before that, it was originally scheduled to offer 3,000 bikes for rental at 300 stations last summer.

To see a map of Divvy bike-docking stations, go to divvybikes.com/stations.



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