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.”

About the Divvy Bike-Sharing Program

Created by the Chicago Department of Transportation in 2013, Divvy is Chicago’s bike-sharing system, with 3,000 bikes and 300 stations across the City. Participants pay an annual membership fee, currently $75, said Sharon Feigon, an Evanston resident who uses a Divvy bike as part of her daily commute. “The bikes are free for up to 30 minutes,” she said. A member can ride a bike for 30 minutes, drop it off at a Divvy station and pick up another Divvy bike.Ms. Feigon, executive director of Shared-Use Mobility Center, said the expansion of Divvy bikes and stations represents “a great step forward for Evanston.” She added, though, that the City “has to move forward and put in the infrastructure.”