Share your ideas on bike sharing

(Associated Press file photo )
October 29, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

The Chicago Department of Transportation is hosting meetings this week for suggestions on where to place stations for the city's $19 million bike share program, which is expected to launch this spring

Chicago, here's your chance to play a role in the city's upcoming bike share project.

The Chicago Department of Transportation is hosting meetings this week for suggestions on where to place stations for the city's $19 million bike share program, which is expected to launch in the spring.

Next year, city residents and tourists will be able to "check out" bikes for a fee, ride them and return them to any bike share station, CDOT said. The initial bike share service area will span between 63rd Street and Devon Avenue and from the lakefront to California Avenue.

The meetings will be 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Lincoln Belmont Public Library, 1659 W. Melrose St., and 6:30-8 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Charles Hayes Center, 4859 S. Wabash Ave. There were meetings Monday at Union Station and the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

On Monday morning, Going Public checked out one of the bike share bikes used in Boston's program. It had an adjustable seat, a space in front for bags and purses, and a guard to protect pants from the chain. Helmets will not be included with the bike share rental, CDOT said. The agency still is fine-tuning the look of Chicago's bike, but it will be similar to Boston's.

Membership will cost $75 per year for unlimited rides and $7 per day. The first 30 minutes will be free. CDOT hopes to have 4,000 bikes and 400 stations in place by spring 2014.

The program already has seen delays—bikes were supposed to be on the streets this summer. The bike company, Alta, had software difficulties with its program in New York, but a CDOT spokesman told the Tribune that Chicago's installation delay was not tied to New York's program problems.

Questions also have been raised about Alta being awarded special treatment in winning the city contract because of the company's ties to CDOT commissioner Gabe Klein, who served as an Alta consultant. CDOT said the delay was to ensure the infrastructure was in place.

For now, the agency is seeking feedback from potential bike users. For those who can't attend this week's meetings, CDOT has a website where users can suggest bike station locations or vote on locations that already have been suggested.

As of Monday afternoon, the most popular site for a station location was the intersection of Division Street and Milwaukee and Ashland avenues in West Town. One commenter said the location, in the middle of a "vibrant business district," would allow residents to run errands by bike instead of by car.

And that's the intention of the bike program, which encourages short trips. CTA riders with a tricky commute may consider using these shared bikes.

CDOT expects to have bike share spaces at stations across the CTA system—when the program gets in gear.

Show your boos

Mobility Lab, a Virginia-based transportation think tank, is hosting a Halloween contest. If you spot a Halloween costume on the CTA, snap a photo and share it on mobilitylab.org. Winners will get some swag.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: UIC-Halsted Blue Line

No need to be blue, UIC students and employees. CTA's clean team, the Renew Crew, was at the Near West Side station Monday morning. GP spotted a duo fixing lights near the Halsted Street entrance. That was just one of 28 items on the station to-do list, according to the CTA's website. Though there is no major problem with the station, it could use a little local flavor. Riders can see UIC from the platform, but the station doesn't feel like it's tied to the college or the neighborhood. Maybe a few posters on the platform would work. "Scarface" or "Animal House," anyone?

Next up: Dempster Purple Line

tswartz@tribune.com

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