DOWNTOWN — Electric scooters are here to stay in Chicago.
Starting Tuesday, Divvy stations in and near Downtown will accommodate classic bikes, e-bikes and electric scooters, making Chicago’s Divvy system the first in the country to also accommodate scooters in the same docking stations as bikes and e-bikes.
Divvy has already retrofitted over 230 docked stations to include scooters and will integrate 1,000 scooters into the system by the end of June, according to a statement from the Chicago Department of Transportation and Lyft, which operates Divvy.
Scooters will be available to existing memberships and the $5 per year Divvy For Everyone (D4E) membership program.
People who use the electric scooters can now dock a scooter at a regular Divvy station Downtown and use a cable that will allow them to walk the scooter to a public rack or other legal parking location, officials said.
This year, scooters will operate as far as Armitage Avenue, Damen Avenue and Pershing Road. Scooters will not be allowed on the Lakefront Trail, Chicago Riverwalk or Navy Pier, city officials said.
CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi joined Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st), and representatives from the Chicago Loop Alliance and Lyft for a ribbon cutting at the James R. Thompson Center Tuesday.
Biagi credited broad interagency collaboration to permanently bring electric scooters to Chicago.
“You’re looking at just a piece of the partnership that delivers this kind of innovation for Chicagoans all over the city,” Biagi said. “That’s been a long road to this point.”
Divvy representatives handed out 300 $5 Divvy ride credits to celebrate the launch.
The city launched the Divvy bike share program in 2013 with the light blue bikes Divvy is now known for. Since then, the city has routinely expanded the program in an effort encourage car-free transportation options.
Electric scooters first became available in Chicago through a pilot program in 2019 that received mixed reception, leading to a second pilot in 2020. Even though there were fewer complaints about the scooters in the second pilot, some alderpeople said in 2021 they still weren’t sold on them being a fixture in the city.
“We’ve worked hard, come through a lot of challenges with respect to people’s skepticism as to whether or not these scooters can work in a Downtown environment and throughout the neighborhood,” Brookins Jr. said. “With this new docking system, and with the other scooter companies coming on board and being mandated to geofence, and to come up with other technologies to keep pedestrians safe and the scooters away from cluttering up the city streets, it is a great day.”
Kiana DiStasi of the Chicago Loop Alliance said options like electric scooters are “transformative to the evolution of Downtown Chicago” and will “encourage access throughout all neighborhoods in Chicago through affordable options.”
Future announcements will be made as electric scooters are added to more neighborhoods. Biagi said CDOT and Lyft are also working on new docking systems where electric bikes and scooters would be able to charge when placed in them.
The city announced in April three other electric scooter companies, Lime, Spin and Superpedestrian, will put 3,000 scooters on city streets. They’re expected to begin operation this summer, city officials said.
Lyft’s Divvy For Everyone program, which previously only applied to Divvy bikes or e-bikes, now also includes the scooters. The program provides a one-time $5 annual membership fee to qualifying residents of Chicago and Evanston, and includes unlimited 45-minute trips for one year.
Lyft is also extending the $5 first year membership to renew for as many years as riders qualify for the next 12 months. The company will also be crediting current D4E accounts $10 each month to use towards e-bike minutes, officials said.
CDOT and City Colleges of Chicago are also offering free annual memberships for full- and part-time City Colleges students.
Divvy is expected to complete its service expansion to all parts of Chicago later this year.
“Part of our job is to create as many opportunities as possible for people to move around the city in a way that’s affordable, in a way that’s safe, in a way that’s accessible and that’s what we’re all about,” Biagi said.
“It creates an opportunity for people to move around, get where they need to go, keeps transportation money in people’s pockets, and not on gas and not on insurance and on paying for their car. So there are a lot of important ways this helps make a change for Chicago as a city but for residents as individuals.”
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