Divvy announced Oct. 6 that it will apply a student discount to its annual subscription for students at Columbia College, DePaul University, Northwestern University, Rush University Medical Center, University of Illinois at Chicago and other Chicago-area colleges.
Divvy, Chicago’s bike sharing service, has given college students discounted rates in recent years and is complementing an even larger discount with a $55 annual membership as opposed to the usual $75 cost.
Hannah Helbert, marketing coordinator at Divvy, said the company reached out to every Chicago-area college it had previous contact with. Although Helbert said Divvy plans to expand the discount to more colleges, it has had six institutions sign on for the discount, as of press time.
“We think using a bike to get around is great for college students, and we definitely want to encourage that,” Helbert said. “We know that college students are paying a lot of different expenses, and we just wanted to make [Divvy] more available to college students.”
Divvy has given $10 annual discounts to colleges in the past, but this will be the first time the company has given a widespread discount. Similar to Divvy’s current pass system, the student discount allows unlimited rides for an annual fee. One stipulation to the unlimited access is that it only covers rides lasting 30 minutes or less, Helbert said. Members will be charged a fee for every additional half hour exceeding the initial 30 minutes of riding.
Providing this discount to students will also provide Divvy with a way to track rider demographics. The discount can help accurately show how many students are Divvy riders, Helbert said.
“It’s a really great system for students to use,” Helbert said. “You don’t have to worry about storage or maintenance. If you go home on winter break for a month, the bikes are still here and ready to go.”
Divvy is a possible solution for students who do not plan to ride all year or have long periods of time where their bike would be unused, said David Dolak, a senior lecturer in the Science & Mathematics Department and a co-founder of C4, the college’s cycling association.
People who live in the city do not leave their bikes out because of potential thefts. He said more students using Divvy could combat the increase in bicycle theft on campus.
“If you leave your bike, it’s about losing parts,” Dolak said. “There used to be bikes in front of [the] 600 [S. Michigan Ave. Building] seven or eight years ago that would be there for a number of days. I don’t know if that was students not coming in every day and using that bike, but they would always lose parts.”
Dolak said he has noticed that people who use public transportation in combination with biking are also more likely to use Divvy bikes.
However, if the student discount is publicized enough, Dolak said he thinks more students may use the service because the college has a Divvy station on campus near the Papermaker’s Garden, 728 S. Wabash Ave.
“Everybody should bike who can and who live close enough,” Dolak said. “The more the better, but some people are not comfortable in urban traffic.”
Ben Davidson, a senior journalism major, said he considered getting his own bike but did not feel comfortable riding on the street and has used Divvy in the past when he wanted to ride.
“I was about to get my own bike [because] I was living really close to the lake trail, but I just moved to the west side of town, so I didn’t get a bike,” Davidson said. “I thought about getting a Divvy pass like a U-Pass, but I haven’t done that because I don’t really foresee doing a lot of bike riding this winter.”
Davidson said Divvy has been mostly successful in Chicago he thinks an annual student discount is a great idea. However, he said it is not one that he will be likely to use because of its time constraints and extra charges.
“My biggest criticism of Divvy is that instead of the 30 minutes before you have to check it in, they should give you an hour,” Davidson said. “That way you can get a little bit of relaxed enjoyment on your bike ride. I think it’s strictly for transit, and I think there should be a little more enjoyment in it.”