Getting Around Chicago with Divvy Bikes

Did you know it’s Divvy Week? They didn’t ask me to write this post or anything. I just figured it was timely.


Over the winter, I cashed in a Groupon deal for an annual Divvy Bike Share membership. I’ve seen the deal pop up again, so if you’ve been thinking about Divvying, keep an eye on Groupon, although in honor of Divvy week, you can get some perks if you sign up this week. The price of an annual membership is $75, or $125 if you’d like some extra perks. I think my Groupon deal was $65 for the $125 membership. Either way, this is much cheaper than buying my own bike and paying for maintenance. Although I have a friend who has her own bike, but also has a Divvy membership for when she doesn’t want to bike round-trip. You can also by 24-hour passes for $7 ($5 this week).

You can read all about how Divvy works on their website, but the basic idea is that you can “check out” a bike for 30 minutes at a time. (Annual members have a “key,” otherwise, you can buy a 24-hour pass online or at a Divvy station.) You can take unlimited trips, but you get charged if you go past 30 minutes with one bike without returning it. (You can always check it back out.) Divvy isn’t meant for taking a leisurely ride around town (although I’ve seen Divvy bikes on the Lakefront Trail). It is designed to get from point A to point B. There are stations all over Chicago*, and apps you can download to look up station locations, as well as how many bikes or docks are available at each station.


*Right now, there are no stations north of Berwyn, west of Kimball, or south of 59th Street. This doesn’t affect me, but you can suggest new stations on the Divvy site, and I assume since they are only in their second year (right?), there will be more stations to come.


^^ This station had zero available docks, so I had to check the app to find the nearest one that did. Because there are so many stations, I didn’t have to go very far. Also, the Divvy peeps are often driving their Divvy vans around town, moving bikes around to better accomodate available bikes and docks.

Divvy bikes aren’t fancy. They have 3 speeds, and they are a bit heavy, so they don’t go very fast (I often get passed by cyclists on their own, nicer bikes). But they have a spot on the handlebars where you could strap in your stuff (with an attached bungee cord thingie), and a flashing tail light and a flashing light on the front (for visibility). You can adjust the seat high. They have kickstands. And a bell. That’s about it.

The one drawback of Divvy is that you do have to provide your own helmet. I don’t ride without one (although I’ve seen plenty of folks who do … I like my head too much), so if I’m planning to ride a Divvy at some point when I’m out, I have to lug my helmet with me. It’s cumbersome, but what can you do? Maybe someday Divvy will offer up helmets for rent at their stations? I have no idea. It would be handy if they did. Because I would love to be able to Divvy to the Lakefront Trail, run, and then Divvy home. But I don’t think running would be enjoyable if I have to bring my helmet with me.


I think this helmet was $30 at Target.

Despite the helmet issue, and the slowness of Divvy bikes, I’m a fan! I love not having to worry about bike maintenance, or worry about my bike being stolen. I love the flexibility of being able to ride a bike without having to do it round-trip, or planning much more beyond bringing a helmet and a backapack.

I’ll admit, I haven’t been on a bike much in the past 10-15 years,  and certainly never on roads as busy as they are in Chicago, so I was a bit nervous during my first few Divvy rides. But I quickly got used to it. Many roads here have bike lanes, or you can get around via side streets so that getting chance to enjoy the unique experiences in Chicago. Although I have yet to attempt Divvying in the Loop during rush hour.

Right now, when I Divvy, I use a Camelback backpack to lug my stuff, and strap my helmet off the bottom of it. I kind of would like something a bit cuter – anyone have any recommendations?

Are you a Divvy member? What do you use Divvy for? Do you have your own bike in the city? When do you use it? 

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13 Comments on “Getting Around Chicago with Divvy Bikes”

  1. Back in the day, Rich used to always train/bike commute to me in the Summer to avoid parking. I did not ride my bike much when I lived in the city, but I wish I had! We used the public bike share in Paris while we were there and it was so convenient. Maybe when I get a new job I’ll Diivy from the train!

  2. One of my best friends swears by Divvy – although once, she rode her bike to brunch, consumed a few cocktails, and rode home (which I don’t condone). But she takes them to and from work all of the time (sans cocktails, of course).

    I also saw a group of people ON Lake Shore Drive riding Divvy bikes. Since we were stuck in traffic, I told them that the lakefront path would be a safer option for them, but they told me to go fly a kite.


  3. I am intrigued by biking around the city on days when I don’t have as much time to walk and/or where I need to go requires more than one mode of transportation but I am terrified of riding a bike in the city so haven’t tried Divvy yet. Hoping to get over my fear and give it a try though…

  4. I need to sign up for Divvy. I would love to use it to get to work. I’ve ridden my own bike a few times but I spend the whole day worrying that it’s going to get stolen.

    And I agree about the whole awkwardness of carting your helmet around. I suppose you could just run with your helmet on. Pretend you’re doing a Muddy Buddy or something.

    1. I do have a bike of my own, but it’s at my parents house because I was too chicken to ride in Chicago, so it didn’t seem worth the hassle. If I rode to/from work, I could keep my bike in the basement of my building, so now that I’ll be living so much closer to the office, I might rescue my bike from their garage. When Robert bikes to work, he’s able to bring his bike into the office, but he works for a very small office. At home we keep it in our garage and keep the garage locked. So yeah, definitely paranoid about getting stolen. When I was in college, someone came through our backyard and onto our back porch (we lived in a vintage walk-up) and stole my roommate’s bike – I don’t remember if she had it locked to the porch and they had to damage the [wooden] porch to steal it, or if she didn’t have it locked. Either way, they came up on our back porch, just a few feet from our back door. Creepy.

  5. Thanks for the tips. I think Divvy is a fantastic idea. As for the helmet problem, I guess some people are claiming that the risk of bike accident-related head injuries across millions of bikers is minuscule vs. the odds that people who don’t bike/exercise will have health-problems. Therefore, they would rather see lots of helmetless riders getting exercise over just a few who are wearing helmets. Anyway, I’m not going to take chances to see if they are right, so I’m wearing mine!

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