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My Divvy relationship is complicated

  • A Divvy bike parked on State Street in the snow. Snow came down blanketing Chicago Thursday January 2, 2014 making the morning commute difficult but creating fun memories for tourists and locals . B583438877Z.1 (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune) ct ....OUTSIDE TRIBUNE CO.- NO MAGS, NO SALES, NO INTERNET, NO TV, CHICAGO OUT, NO DIGITAL MANIPULATION...
A Divvy bike parked on State Street in the snow. Snow came down blanketing… (Nancy Stone / Chicago Tribune )
May 29, 2014|Ryan Smith, @ryansmithwriter

Dear Divvy,

I think it’s time we talked about our relationship. Wait, don’t freak out, I’m not breaking up with you. It’s just that Chicago Bike Week marked our four-month anniversary. As with any healthy partnership, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and evaluate things.

I remember being skeptical about you last year. A bike-sharing program administered by the city sound like another expensive boondoggle, much like ... well, don’t get me started on parking meters. I also figured Chicagoans who want to pedal around the city already own a bike, and tourists would stick to goofy Segway tours.

But then I moved to a new apartment and spied one of your hundreds of docking stations adjacent to my building. I soon gave in to temptation with you one frosty winter morning while in a hurry to Jewel. I found myself perched on your saddle another day when I wanted to zip to the nearest Blue Line stop without waiting for the slow-ass Halsted bus.

Sure, I was worried what my friends might think. You’d gotten a little bit of a reputation as a magnet for wide-eyed cycling noobs who ride on the sidewalk or the wrong side of the street. And let’s face it, you’re not the sexiest creature on two wheels. You’re big, heavy and an eye-searing sky-blue color—the Babe the Blue Ox of bicycles. But as Elaine from “Seinfeld” once said about men’s bodies, you’re “utilitarian, for gettin’ around, like a Jeep.” 

You remember what happened next, right? One 24-hour pass led to another and soon I rushed into a Groupon for an annual membership and we were hitched.

But 130 rides have passed, which in biking terms means the honeymoon period is officially over and I’m ready to vent a little about your flaws. Several encounters have been plagued with janky gears or busted seats, or a station that was completely empty or full. Sometimes when I insert my key or return a cycle in your docking station, I hold my breath and wonder if the light will turn green or red.

Remember that sub-zero day the entire docking station froze over, and I waited for customer service as my face turned the color of one of your frames? And who could forget the time a beer bottle broke in your ill-fitting basket when I hit a pothole, spilling all over me? And please, let’s do something about that 30-minute limit on rides. As much as I enjoy feeling like a poor man’s Jack Bauer desperately trying to locate a bomb while racing toward a station, I’d really appreciate a more leisurely ride. Would an hour be too much to ask?

I’m glad we could talk about this, Divvy. I love you, but that doesn’t mean you’re perfect. Let’s grow together as rider and bike-sharing program.

Kisses,

Ryan

Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.

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