Evanston was abuzz in late September with talk of bicycles and places to ride them. Even before residents and City Council members talked about bike paths and bike routes at the Sept. 29 City Council meeting, the Green Living Festival and Bike the Ridge demonstrated with gentle persuasion the joy, ease and importance of replacing the gas pedal with the bike pedal.
As bicyclists of all ages enjoyed the vehicle-free two-mile stretch of Ridge Avenue, Jerry Stermer, director of the State’s Office of Management and Budget, announced that the State would invest $3 million in the Divvy bike-sharing program, adding 700 new bikes and 70 docking stations in Evanston, Oak Park and Chicago. Evanston will receive eight stations. Together, Evanston and Oak Park will put in a total of $200,000 in matching funds for the project – $108,000 from Evanston.
The grant, said Mr. Stermer, is “to expand the Divvy program so that suburbs can participate in the bike-share program.” The expansion, he said, will “reduce the carbon footprint and make communities far more livable and healthy. … I applaud the leadership of Evanston, Oak Park and the City of Chicago for this collaboration to move us forward to a healthier lifestyle.”
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said the added bike stations “will increase our transit-oriented development possibilities.” In answer to a question from the audience she affirmed that it is possible to bike from Evanston to Wrigley Field and added that one could also bike to U.S. Cellular Field, formerly called Comiskey Park. She thanked Gov. Quinn for “having wonderful people like Jerry being a part of State government, and she thanked Mr. Stermer “for always being here for Evanston and the State of Illinois.” She said, though, “There is one thing you left out: It’s a lot of fun to ride a Divvy bike.”