Bike sharing in Chicago
July 22, 2012 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know what's going on with Chicago's bike sharing system? I'll be visiting in October for 1.5 weeks and planned to sign up for a month-long membership with b-cycle but am not so sure anymore.

I've googled the news but I'm guessing my google-fu is not up to snuff. I'm getting returns that claimed the city was going expand its bike-sharing program with another company in 2012 (not b-cycle) but then some other company cried foul and well. It's now the middle of summer in 2012 and with Chicago's winter, I'm guessing there will be no bike share program expansion this year (sucks). Is this right? Can anyone shed any light on the progress?

Or can anyone actually recommend the b-cycle program in Chicago? It's gotten pretty bad reviews on yelp and I notice that the station locations are very, very limited. That being said, however, I will be in the city for 1.5 weeks. I'm not sure where I'll be staying in the city yet but I'm planning to do a lot of sight-seeing and exploring. Bicycle rentals per day are really expensive, like $35 per day, whereas a month-long membership with b-cycle is $35 and the first hour is free and $5 per additional half-hour. It seems like the more cost-effective option if I can keep track of my time. Is Chicago bike-friendly? Should I just buy a week-long CTA pass instead?

posted by bluelight to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (8 answers total)
If it's one or the other - than yes, a CTA pass will be a better option than a bike.
posted by kickingtheground at 12:32 PM on July 22, 2012

Response by poster: @kickingtheground: OK, but why is a CTA pass better?
posted by bluelight at 1:38 PM on July 22, 2012

yeah, if you have to choose, the CTA pass will probably be most useful (depending on where/how much you need to get around). that said, Chicago is pretty bike-friendly, and is really fun to bike in because it's super flat, and there's a beautiful and well-maintained trail along the whole lakeshore.
posted by dizziest at 1:39 PM on July 22, 2012

I'll link it anyway, but you probably saw this article from the Chicago Tribune? It indicates that the program will be operational by the end of the year (2012). Knowing Chicago, that will probably mean more like next summer.

The Active Transportation Alliance might know the current status of the program. I would suggest contacting them, as there doesn't seem to be any recent info on it on their web site.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:00 PM on July 22, 2012

Chicago is bike-friendly and plenty of us bike year-round, but renting a bike can be expensive. Most of my out of town guests have found it too costly to rent a bike for a day and you're right, b-cycle is not outside of the touristy areas. Some of my guests have used a CTA pass and then used the bike share for an hour or two. They picked it up in Lincoln Park and biked South to museum campus. This short trip gave them a taste for biking on the lakefront but was still affordable.

I suggest getting a CTA pass but trying out the bikes one day or a few hours to bike along the lake. There are other bike rental shops that rent by the hour or day instead of the bike share as well. We have bike lanes (and even a few protected lanes!) but you should be comfortable biking in traffic if you intend to go off the lakefront trail.
posted by Bunglegirl at 3:32 PM on July 22, 2012

but why is a CTA pass better?

In terms of cost:

7 day pass - $23
3 day pass - $14
1 day pass - $5.75

vs $35 + $10/hour

However, biking the lakefront - priceless.
posted by she's not there at 4:52 PM on July 22, 2012

The bike sharing is still in the works, and likely won't be by October. The best resource I've found for keeping track of what's going on with it is Grid. You may want to place an ad on the Bikes section of Craigslist asking about renting a bike from an individual.
posted by smich at 9:46 AM on July 23, 2012

vs $35 + $10/hour

B Cycling isn't $35 + $10/hour, it is $35/month for UNLIMITED hour-long rides at no additional cost ****OR**** $10 for a one hour ride if you don't buy the month membership.

For week-and-a-half length bicycle rental, most rental shops will give you a price far, far less than $35/day. You will have to call them to ask about that option, however. It would be worth calling a few of the area bike shops that do rentals (vs. the bike rental companies) to see if they will give you any kind of a deal.

Another option is to buy a bike from craigslist when you get there, or try used bike shops like this one. You can usually buy a used bike for about the same price as what you might rent for a week, but of course it takes more footwork on your end. At the end of your trip, donate the bike back to a used bike shop or just leave it on the street with a sign saying 'free bike'.
posted by flug at 10:28 AM on July 23, 2012

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