Chart showing the progression of annual member sign-ups. 

The day after Divvy – a bike sharing system in Chicago operated by Alta Bicycle Share – started signing up members, enrollment dropped by 80.2%. The next day it dropped by 57.9% and then 55.7% after that. The progression was 732 in the first day, 145 in the second, 61 in the third, and 27 in the fourth day. Since day two, daily enrollment has never exceeded 121 sign-ups in a day.

The Bike to Work Day Rally on Friday, June 14, had almost no impact: there were 6 sign-ups that day, with 6 sign-ups the day before. This was the first time that a station was visible to the public and Divvy staff were out there talking to people and allowing some test rides. The next day, however, there were 12 sign-ups. Even launch day, June 28, was weak, especially given that the new system was given a lot of attention that day and weekend in the press. The Monday after Friday’s launch saw more than launch day.

In a system that has so far focused on a few stations in neighborhoods (like West Town/Wicker Park, South Loop and Lincoln Park), this might not be surprising. Nor is it surprising that memberships were low from the period enrollment opened to the first station being installed – because there was nothing out on the street to catch people’s attention and you had to know about it by being told, online or from a friend.

“What is this?”

I expected, then, that memberships would jump once the system went live, to at least a rate higher than the period when membership was open but there were 0 stations installed. But that hasn’t happened. If the rate of new annual members doesn’t start increasing as stations start increasing, I will be very concerned. Currently, most trips are taken by 24-hour pass holders, and the most popular stations are near the lakefront, telling me that the system is used mostly by (confused) tourists.

Riding a Divvy bike on Dearborn Street.

I could, of course, try to compare us to New York City’s rapid explosion in annual member sign-ups for Citibike, also run by Alta Bicycle Share. I’m sure readers would poke holes in that comparison, rendering any argumentation here useless. Now that there are 75 stations are in place, the rate of post-launch annual membership enrollment should be vastly higher than the rate of pre-launch annual membership enrollment. The period when there were 0 stations had a higher rate of enrollment than the period that followed it during which stations were being installed.


Pre-launch, days 1-16 of enrollment (with 0 stations)
1,152 memberships, 36.5%, average of 72 members per day

Pre-launch, days 17-30 of enrollment (with 1-68 stations)
320 memberships, 10.1%, average of 22.9 members per day

Subtotal: Pre-launch, 30 days of enrollment (with 0-68 stations)
1,472 memberships, 44.7%, average of 49.1 members per day

Post-launch, days 31-55 of enrollment (with 68-75 stations)
1,685 memberships, 53.4%, average of 67.4 members per day

Total: days 1-55 of enrollment (with 0-75 stations)
3,157 memberships, 100.0%, average of 57.4 members per day


View the membership data for yourself (XLS).

P.I was told two weeks ago that marketing for Divvy would soon begin on Chicago Transit Authority bus shelters and “City Information” signs, both advertising infrastructure operated by JCDecaux under its contract with the City of Chicago. I think this will have minimal impact, but it’s definitely worth putting out there.