Divvy’s Winter Medalist campaign is a tour de frigid


Zachary Keltner

Divvy’s new Winter Medalist program will run throughout February and reward riders for taking cold weather trips with tiered accolades.

By Mayan Darbyshire

As winter weather leaves snowdrifts on streets and sidewalks, Divvy wants to see whether its riders have what it takes to brave the blizzards and go for gold.

The launch of Divvy’s first annual “Winter Medalist” campaign, a four-week-long competition which began Feb. 5, has riders earning medals and bragging rights with each cold weather trip they take. 

Kelly Goldthorpe, director of Marketing and Rider Experience at Divvy, said the timing was perfect to implement an idea they had been  playing with for two years.

“We know that people love to ride Divvy in the summer. That’s obviously when we see the most ridership,” Goldthorpe said, “But we also know that our riders love a good challenge.” 

The campaign consists of three tiers: bronze for the completion of just one trip or more, silver for completing five or more and gold for completing 10 trips. The trips are tracked through riders’ accounts. Achieving gold will net riders  an invitation to a victory event March 4 at Emporium Arcade Bar in Logan Square, according to the bar’s website. 

Kerdia Roland, a bike courier and entrepreneur living in the Loop, rode Divvy more than 6,200 miles in 2017, making him Divvy’s top rider. Roland said he was excited for the victory event because he loves meeting people.

Roland, 23, who has a lot of experience in cold weather, said bicycling in the winter was a challenge. He put baby powder in his socks to keep his feet from sweating and getting cold. 

Roland said riders need to be careful of the temperature as it can cause serious harm.

“The wind can cause a cold flu, pneumonia, things of that nature,” Roland said. “So make sure you can cover from your nose down to your mouth and your neck as well.”

Chicago hit record low temperatures this year and the recent snowstorm gave Chicago almost 7 inches of snowfall. 

Goldthorpe said Divvy bikes were well equipped and serviced for the colder weather and trekking through snow, but she encourages riders to to take precautions by wearing helmets and high visiblity clothing while bicycling.

“With more snow in the road and bike lanes that aren’t as clean as they typically are, it’s just really important to stay alert while riding,” Goldthorpe said. 

Julia Gerasimenko, advocacy manager at Active Transportation Alliance, an advocacy group that partnered with Divvy and the Chicago Department of Transportation to implement Divvy in the city, said she was pleased with Divvy’s creative tactics but still wants to see more government support for bicycle infrastructure. 

“It’s a good strategy to get people on their bikes, but when people are biking and seeing that you can still do it comfortably in the winter,” Gerasimenko said, “That joy of the experience will motivate them to take even more rides.” 

Roland makes a living on a Divvy and said he encourages others to get out there and stay safe while doing it.

“It is a fantastic way to not only generate income but a way to really stay healthy and find that healthier you, a fitter you.” Roland said.