Launch of Chicago Bike Share Delayed Again; Are Citi Bike's Problems to Blame?

It turns out New York isn't the only large city struggling to get its heralded bike-share system off the ground. Chicago's rush to launch Divvy has hit a snag, delaying the program's launch by two weeks.
June 13, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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After a year delay, Chicago's Divvy bike-share system was supposed to launch with a 'big bang' this month. Now comes word that the big bang is more of a big dud. "Divvy was supposed to open for business Friday, capping off Bike to Work Week," reports Tim Akimoff. "But a statement posted on the program’s Tumblr site on Tuesday afternoon said the launch was being pushed back 'to ensure we have the necessary time to test stations and ensure the system is fully functioning.'” Apparently a late arriving part is at least partly to blame for the delay in constructing the system's docking stations. 

It's unclear if the delay for testing is related to the technical problems plaguing New York's bike-share program; both systems share the same operator, supplier, and buggy software system. Although Citi Bike has proven incredibly popular since launching at the end of May (annual memberships exceed 36,000), the WNYC Data News Team estimates that at any one time a tenth of the system's docking stations are malfunctioning.   

"In fact, it turns out the nation's largest bike share is beta testing the entire software system," write Andrea Bernstein, Steven Melendez and Kate Hinds. "Other than in Chattanooga, Tennessee (31 stations, 300 bikes), the software system used in New York has never been used anywhere. Even in Chattanooga, where the system launch was also delayed, the system isn't perfect, ten months after that city's launch."

"New York's bikes look just like the ones in Boston, Minneapolis, Washington, DC, and London. Those cities -- which used the same software developed for Montreal, North America's first large-scale bike share -- did not experience the kind of software issues New York is having," they add. "But New York's bike share underwent a brain transplant before it came to the Big Apple."

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Published on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 in WNYC: Transportation Nation
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