CHICAGO
07/10/2013 04:27 pm ET

Divvy Ridership In Chicago Growing Fast Within First Week Of Launch -- But Mostly Among White Bicyclists

In the scant two weeks since its launch, Chicago's large-scale public bike sharing program is already off to a blazing start.

The Divvy bike share program logged 2,200 registered users as of Monday; according to DNAinfo, that's a jump from the June 24 sign-up numbers of 1,500.

Save a few complaints over glitches like docking stations that won't lock a returning bike and redistribution issues (both of which Divvy said it's working on) rider responses have been overwhelmingly positive.

Chicago's quickness to embrace the new program — something that's already a viable transit staple in many major European cities — Scott Kubly, CDOT's deputy commissioner, told DNAinfo Divvy's ridership is "high" for a roughly week-old program and that it took a year to reach similar ridership numbers with DC's Capital Bike Share program.

While the new program is posting promising numbers, several analyses show Divvy is overwhelmingly being used by whites since the distribution of stations leave many black and Latino Chicagoans behind.

Overlaying census data with a Divvy map of proposed station locations, a Tribune analysis shows nearly half of all whites in Chicago live within a quarter mile of locations designated for Divvy rental and drop-off.

The city and Divvy have long maintained the placement of stations — at least initially — is determined by where demand is already highest, i.e. dense, highly congested neighborhoods. With declining populations in many parts of the South Side, the residents in that part of the city, most of whom are black, have less bike share access.

According to WBEZ, black West Side neighborhoods that include North Lawndale and East and West Garfield Park have just two of the 400 planned bike-sharing stations.

The distribution is on-trend with how bike sharing breaks down among racial groups in other cities with similar programs, such as those in Boston, New York City and DC, the Tribune says.

According to the Chicago Business Journal, Klein said the program will expand to the less-dense areas of the city — after the program proves its viability.

As the service continues to grow, however, RedEye has one important reminder for any stripe of Divvy users: Get off the sidewalk.

Photo by Flickr user danxoneil.

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