CHICAGO, IL – When Ald. Matt O’Shea worked with city officials on a pilot program in 2018 that would help bring Divvy bike service to the Beverly neighborhood, he did so with the understanding that providing bikes to local residents would only enhance what was already an active, health-friendly environment.
But over the past two years, the process of actually bringing Divvy stations to Beverly has taken much longer than O’Shea (19th Ward) originally hoped. The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t helped matters, but now, a week after the Chicago Department of Transportation and ride-sharing service Lyft announced that Beverly is part of an expansion to Chicago’s Far South Side, the progress that O’Shea has been patiently waiting for is starting to take shape.
By the of end of 2020, O’Shea expects 11 Divvy stations to be in place throughout Beverly, which is part of a $50 million expansion Lyft is donating to bring Divvy to more underserved neighborhoods.
City officials announced last week that 66 new stations will be installed with the hopes of adding 10,500 more electric-assisted bikes to the city by 2021. According to the Chicago Tribune, Lyft is providing $77 million for transportation improvements, including bike lanes, signage and sidewalk improvements over the next nine years. In addition, the Department of Transportation indicated that financial investments by Lyft will help to fund 16 ½ miles of bike lanes on the Far South Side.
“It’s been a long time coming,” O’Shea told Patch on Wednesday. “It was welcomed news that we were finally going to start seeing some infrastructure and bikes showing up.”
He added: “It’s been frustrating, but I’m glad it’s finally coming).”
The Metra Rock Island line has always made Beverly a logical choice for Divvy service. With destinations along the line including the Beverly Arts Center, Saint Xavier University and some of the main intersections that run throughout the neighborhood, providing Divvy hubs at various locations only made sense to O’Shea.
But after plans seemed to be placed on hold until earlier this year and then with the pandemic setting in, O’Shea wondered when next steps to actually bring Divvy to Beverly would actually take place. Last week’s announcement changed that and sets up a timeline for the 11 new docking stations to installed starting in coming weeks.
After work begins in early August, O’Shea anticipates more stations will be added in September and October. By the end of the year, docking stations will be located at:
The Metra stop at 91st Street
The Metra stop at 99th St.
The Metra Stop at 107th Street
The Metra Stop at 115th Street
The Intersection of 103rd and Western
The Intersection of 111th and Western (Beverly Arts Center)
The Intersection Near 103rd and Kedzie
The Intersection of 111th and Kedzie
The Intersection near 111th and Lawndale (Mt. Greenwood Park)
2 E-Bike stations at Saint Xavier University (103rd and Lawndale) and in North Beverly at 92nd and Hamilton Ave.
Divvy first launched in Chicago in 2013 and since then has expanded to various neighborhoods around the city. But with Beverly being located in the city’s southwest side, O’Shea realized it would take time for the project time to expand to this area. While he has always known Beverly to be neighborhood where families enjoy being outdoors and exercising, he said that Divvy’s presence will be a welcomed addition to the neighborhood.
During the six-month pilot program in 2018, the Beverly/Mt. Greenwood/Morgan Park area exhibited more ridership than several other wards combined, which made O’Shea hopeful that the service would one day find a permanent home in an area where so many residents could enjoy having bikes at their disposal.
“I think it’s going to be huge for our community,” O’Shea said. “I like to think I represent a very healthy community – you walk down the street and you see people walking, riding their bikes and jogging. We are a very active community so I think we will have strong participation with this. I’m glad the South Side is being looked at.”
This article originally appeared on the Beverly-MtGreenwood Patch