I Finally Rode a Divvy…and I Hope I Never Have to Again
DNAinfo reports that, with over 365,000 trips, Divvy riders have biked for over 1 million miles! That’s fantastic, isn’t it? Divvy stations are expanding, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Since Divvy launched I’ve been wanting to give it a try. I finally had a chance last weekend during Open Streets Chicago.
Collecting the Divvy
The Kiosk is a touchscreen and takes about 1-2 minutes to get your code. Well, at least it’s supposed to be that quick. What actually happened to us was this:
Me: ** poke the screen **
Divvy Kiosk: …
Me: ** poke poke **
Divvy Kiosk: …
Me: ”UGH! Jason, you do it.”
Jason: ** poke the screen **
Divvy Kiosk: … “Please dip your card…”
It worked for him, but it was a bit slow. When he was finally done, the machine spit back an error message.
Crap! Not good, because my sister’s partner had already gotten his Divvy bike out and was adjusting it. Okay, try again.
So Jason tried again. Same slowness, but at least it processed. Two $7 day-passes for us. We hurried over to unlock the bikes.
You really have to give them a good yank to get them out–hard to do if you’re holding coffee in your hand like I was.
Then time to adjust the fit. This was also a little hard to do because I started hearing “TICK TOCK TICK…” in my head. In Chicago, you only have 30 minutes between stations.
It didn’t help that I heard my sister grumbling at the Kiosk because her order didn’t get processed the first time either. She also had to go through the whole thing twice.
In all, with our group of 5 (on 3 cards) it took almost 10 minutes for all of us to be ready to roll…so off we went, in a hurry.
Riding the Divvy
It was a short ride (obviously) but it was a heavy and uncomfortable one. Pretty soon, I couldn’t wait to get off the bike. Nothing felt right. Not the handlebars, the reach, the pedals, or the saddle. The saddle was the worst! I had to adjust the height twice while waiting at a light because the saddle was so gigantic I couldn’t get it right. Seriously, I joke about my “big butt Sally saddle” a lot… but those things on the Divvy bikes are monsters!
All I could think about the entire time was how much I missed MY BIKE. How I wanted to be on MY BIKE. How light and perfect Bubblegum is. I missed her. Badly.
Returning the Divvy
As the clock continued ticking and we approached that 30-minute mark I started to panic that we wouldn’t make it. You don’t even get charged that much if you’re late, but it still made me really anxious about time. I don’t like that feeling when I’m traveling around.
When I finally pushed the bike back into the dock I felt a huge rush of relief. Both for having it returned and for being off the clunky thing.
Post-Ride Thoughts on Divvy
Will I Join?
When I first heard about Divvy, I suggested to Jason that we get a membership. That’s how excited I was about it. I wanted to join even though there were no stations anywhere near us, nor were there any future plans to get any close to us. I thought that it still might be nice to have, just in case we want to take the bus or train into downtown or something.
Jason immediately disagreed with that idea, mostly based on the argument that we have our own bikes. “Why would we pay to use other bikes that aren’t fit to us?” he asked me, “Especially if there aren’t any stations near us.” I knew he was right, but I still secretly decided that once we moved closer into the city we’ll get one.
So, do I still feel that way? Once we live close to stations, will I become a member?
While I think having a membership makes sense for many people, it doesn’t for me. I will always choose to ride my own bike; the bike I’ve spent the past 3 years with, adjusting to fit my body perfectly. Fit is really important to me, because I have back problems and an injured knee. I can’t ride on a bike that hurts my body for a long period of time. My mom also has back problems and her quick ride on the Divvy with us was NOT good for her back.
Tips for trying Divvy
Don’t get me wrong. I still like Divvy and am in favor of bike share programs (and I welcome them to my backyard–this is not a NIMBY statement). I would love to see Divvy stations everywhere in the Chicagoland area.
The bottom line is that, even though it was an uncomfortable ride, I still got to where I needed to go quickly. My complaints and issues with Divvy aren’t necessarily problems with Divvy–it’s more about my personal riding preferences.
I see bike shares as an effective way to show people that cycling is a practical option for transportation systems. I like that people can choose between Divvy, bus, taxi, or train (or a combination). If I’m really in a pinch, I would definitely rent a Divvy again.
I’m glad that I tried it and I encourage everyone to give it at least one ride. Who knows, you might love it! Here are some tips based on my experience to help make it a more positive experience for you:
- If you’re in a group, wait until everyone has their code before undocking the bike. I didn’t realize that you have a few minutes until the code expires, so that will help ensure that everyone undocks at the same time.
- Before the code expires, pick our your bike and try to do some adjusting while it’s still docked. That way, you don’t lose precious time adjusting it!
- If you don’t have a phone with an internet connection, do not ride on a Divvy spontaneously. Know exactly where the next dock is before you rent a Divvy. You do not want to panic because the clock is almost out and you realize you were wrong about where the next station is located…
- If you do have a phone with an internet connection, it is still a good idea to know exactly where the next is before you even start pedaling away from the dock.
- If you have fun riding, but find it uncomfortable, don’t be discouraged from bicycling in general! You can get a much lighter and/or more comfortable bike that is fit to your body. I promise!
- Down & Divvy by Nadarine // Tiny Fix Bike Gang
- Bike Share Everywhere! (this blog)
- My Experience with Divvy Today: Smooth and Slow (Steven Vance @ Steven Can Plan)
- Divvy Riders Surpass 1 Million Miles (Emily Morris @ DNAinfo)
- Imagine a Road with No Cars: Open Streets Chicago (this blog)