The Chainlink

As many of us take our first Divvy rides over the next few days, jot down your experiences, impressions or any tips you may have for using Divvy.

I'll start:

I got to Daley Plaza a little past five this evening, for the Pre-Launch Divvy Ride.  My first impression was: man, that's a lot of bikes sitting there!  I checked in at the Divvy tent--and was pleased to find out I didn't need to activate my key fob yet: my paper invitation was all I needed.  Each bike was tagged with one of our names; there was literally a bike with my name on it on the plaza.

Many recognizable faces on the plaza.  I caught up briefly with Anne Alt & Julie Hochstadter, saw John Greenfield scoping things out, chatted with Elliot Greenberger (Divvy's PR guy) and Eddie Imlow (Divvy's General Manager) who was managing to be everywhere even while being hobbled by crutches.

It began to drizzle.  Then it began to rain.  Then it began to REALLY RAIN.  My free cup of gelato from the nearby gelato truck began to melt in the warm raindrops.  An amazing number of people squeezed under the three little tents.  And lots of folks plastered themselves up against the front of the Daley Center, against the windows, trying to stay dry.  I didn't hear much of Gabe Klein's speech, as the windy storm was howling at its height right about then.

Only a few Divvy cyclists had left the plaza when I found my Divvy bike and headed north, first on Dearborn, then up Clark to Fullerton, then up Orchard to Diversey and finally to Wilton.  Diversey & Wilton was the furthest north operational station tonight, which is why I picked it.

Locking up was a little tricky.  I tried several times, but couldn't make the green light come on or the lock activate. Shortly after, four more Divvy riders arrived to lock up.  One had used the Washington, DC bike share, and slammed--really slammed--the front wheel into the lock tower and the green light came right on.  I tested the lock by lifting the rear wheel and tugging the bike backwards, but the lock held.  We all tried the same thing and successfully locked all five bikes.  **TIP** Don't be gentle when locking up, it seems you need to really slam the front wheel forward into the slot. And don't walk away from the bike until you're sure it's locked--you're re$pon$ible for it until it's secured.

Oddly, even now, after three hours, the Diversey/Wilton station still reports zero bikes and fifteen open docks on the CycleFinder app, even though I know at least five bikes are locked there, possibly more.  Perhaps that station isn't communicating properly with the mainframe computer?

Other impressions from my ride: the bike is big, heavy, comfy & cushy.  It absorbed potholes and bumps beautifully, but you had to really work at moving off the line at a green light.  The three speeds seemed kind of close together, and didn't really provide much difference from first to third.  The front rack with integrated bungee cord held my bag and water bottle securely.

Be prepared to be the center of attention during the next week, while Divvy is still new.  I had other cyclists stop to ask me how I liked the Divvy.  Pedestrians and motorists gawked and stared at the bike.  I got one "Whohoo!  You got the first ride!  I chickened out in the rain..." from a pedestrian I passed.

**Tip** Spend a little time experimenting with the saddle height.  The post is helpfully marked off in inches, so you can replicate the height quickly each time.  I stopped and changed it three times during my ride: I've decided 4-and-a-half-inches height seems right for me.

I have no experience checking out a bike yet.  One of the guys who was locking alongside me had an activated key fob, but it didn't release the bike.  That may have to wait until the system is officially open tomorrow.

Have fun!  I look forward to hearing about your first Divvy rides.


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I tried it out for a friend Sunday,got the 24 HR pass at a station in Wicker after downloading the app. we rode downtown foupnd a station and checked back in,after that it was a disaster. Returning to the station to pick up another bike we found the station under repair. OK walk 2 blocks to the next station w/ 5 bikes availiable (according to the app) only one was left and was being checked out. Walked 4 blocks to the next station to find 2 with a red light on and the one we got needing a brake adjustment or something to release the drag on the front. An hour later we return to the original station to find it NOW working! WHEW! We get the bike ride towards our destination but those 3 closest ones had a total of one open dock so we left it at the nearest one showing several docks. Now...we take off on foot waking the final mile. Lesson learned $11 shorter. Great money maker, terrible transportation alternative.

I tried to grab a Divvy bike at Monroe Harbor on Friday night. Waited in line behind two other people; the first guy was able to get a bike, the second guy went through the whole process and then got an error. Then he started over with his friend's credit card and it worked. Then I went through the numerous, extremely slow touch screens that were less responsive than any I've used in 15 years (it often required literally 5-10 attempts before the screen would register a button press) until finally, at the very end, I got a mysterious error: we cannot process your request at this time, or words to that effect. I think it was the same problem the guy in front of me was having. Zero indication as to the cause of the problem, zero indication as to how I might resolve it, zero indication as to whom I might contact to get answers to these questions. As there were several people behind me in line I didn't really have a chance to keep fighting with it.

I later heard that numerous other people leaving the harbor the same night had similar problems with the Divvy station there.

A transportation network that only works sometimes isn't much of a transportation network. If you can't trust it to get you home and must have alternative transportation arranged because it fails so frequently, you might as well just go with your alternative transportation to begin with.

It's on the east side of State north of Randolph - by Walgreens and not far from the Chicago Theater.

Vondo said:

... according to the app, they show a station at Randolph and State, but unless I totally missed it, it's not there? Anyways, I dig it, my key fob is on its way!

I'm sorry to hear that you had such a frustrating time.  I've really been enjoying using the system.

Did you try calling the toll-free phone number that's on the big Divvy sign at the end of each station?

Eli said:

I tried to grab a Divvy bike at Monroe Harbor on Friday night. ...got a mysterious error: ...zero indication as to whom I might contact to get answers to these questions.

As I stated, there were several people in line behind me and the line was growing longer and longer. I didn't think it would be appropriate to make them wait while I called customer service.

Perhaps you still could have called the number so Divvy would know about this problem and fix it as soon as they were able. It might not of helped you or those in line at that moment, but it could of helped out the system in the future.

+1

Davo said:

Perhaps you still could have called the number so Divvy would know about this problem and fix it as soon as they were able. It might not of helped you or those in line at that moment, but it could of helped out the system in the future.

I lost my Divvirginity tonight.

A nice young man in India named Kevin helped me get activated (after I found some kids sitting on a stoop to help me read the number on the fob.)

Reading here was helpful in knowing that it takes some elbow grease to undock and dock the bikes.

Not sure that I ultimately saved any time or distance walking due to the limited locations in this area, but not really any problems besides the dock turning green but not grabbing when I went to dock the last bike.

A bit concerned that the docks at Damen/Cullerton and Damen/Coulter were almost full-- given the limited number of stations locally I would have had to return to the place I got the bike if there had not been any remaining spaces.

Welcome to the club!  I have found that the folks in India who answer the phone are really very helpful.

You know you can sign on to the web site and check on your trips to be sure that the system properly recorded you returning the bike?

h' 1.0 said:

I lost my Divvirginity tonight.

A nice young man in India named Kevin helped me get activated (after I found some kids sitting on a stoop to help me read the number on the fob.)

Reading here was helpful in knowing that it takes some elbow grease to undock and dock the bikes.

Not sure that I ultimately saved any time or distance walking due to the limited locations in this area, but not really any problems besides the dock turning green but not grabbing when I went to dock the last bike.

A bit concerned that the docks at Damen/Cullerton and Damen/Coulter were almost full-- given the limited number of stations locally I would have had to return to the place I got the bike if there had not been any remaining spaces.

Yup, I looked at that last night. Each trip recorded as just over 5 minutes....

Lisa Curcio 6.5 mi said:

Welcome to the club!  I have found that the folks in India who answer the phone are really very helpful.

You know you can sign on to the web site and check on your trips to be sure that the system properly recorded you returning the bike?

h' 1.0 said:

I lost my Divvirginity tonight.

A nice young man in India named Kevin helped me get activated (after I found some kids sitting on a stoop to help me read the number on the fob.)

Reading here was helpful in knowing that it takes some elbow grease to undock and dock the bikes.

Not sure that I ultimately saved any time or distance walking due to the limited locations in this area, but not really any problems besides the dock turning green but not grabbing when I went to dock the last bike.

A bit concerned that the docks at Damen/Cullerton and Damen/Coulter were almost full-- given the limited number of stations locally I would have had to return to the place I got the bike if there had not been any remaining spaces.

Whoa, I had no idea you could view your trips on the Divvy site.

 

Three of my trips don't reflect where or when I docked the bike. I hope I don't have $3,600 of fines headed my way... :)

You might want to call the 800 number and talk to one of those nice folks in India. :-)
 
Alex Z said:

Whoa, I had no idea you could view your trips on the Divvy site.

 

Three of my trips don't reflect where or when I docked the bike. I hope I don't have $3,600 of fines headed my way... :)

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