by Tom Shelton for SUST 210
By now, most people have heard of DIVVY, unless of course you live under a rock. For those of us who do live under rocks, DIVVY is the new Chicago bike share program which aims to take back the streets from those pesky gas guzzling motorcars. Everyone upcycle your driving gloves into biking gloves, because the suburbs are looking for a piece of the action!
According to our public radio folks at WBEZ, the suburbs of Oak Park and Evanston have applied for federal funding to expand DIVVY out into the suburbs. How much funding you ask? Well, the US Department of Transportation has provided $25 million for the DIVVY program that could become the largest in the nation if the expansions are approved.
Wonderful — Oak Park and Evanston are getting another alternate form of transportation! Wait a minute; don’t Oak Park and Evanston already have CTA and Metra? Yes, they do! Cool, now all those high income folks can ride their bikes to the train and get to work even faster! Does anyone else see a trend here?
What about the long advocated-for Red Line expansion project to the south suburbs? How about expanding DIVVY in those communities, where people currently have less income and fewer public transportation opportunities? Oh wait, that’s not happening yet. According to Gabe Klein at DIVVY, they are expanding to Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood in the spring, but no other comments were made about the criticism that DIVVY does not serve the poor areas on the South and West side of the city, let alone lower-income South or West Side suburbs like Maywood or Cicero. How much further is the program really going to go in some of the poorest and most violent areas in the nation? What about the depressed low-income south suburbs or places like Joliet?
Alternative transportation is all well and good, but when it’s not paired with a program to assist those who cannot even get transportation when they need it because of socioeconomic status it really does nothing but generate profit. With all the problems in the new rollout of the CTA Ventra system, I’d like to see what people on the South and West Sides of the city as well as their neighboring suburbs have to say about DIVVY coming their way.
Each week during the Fall 2013 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 210 Sustainable Future online class at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts on suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.