Divvy Savvy at Open Gov Hack Night

This is a guest post from our igniTech intern, Lissette Lagunas, who is joining us for the summer. Lissette will be writing about the different breakout groups at hack night, starting with Transportation.

How many of you use Divvy as your means of transportation? How many riders have ever had the issue of stations being empty when you need it or full when you want to return it? At Open Gov Hack Night, the Transportation Breakout Group discussed these issues to find solutions for smooth riding. Open Gov Hack Night happens every Tuesday starting at 6 pm at 1871,  located on the 12th floor at 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza.

Divvy bike sharing station

Transportation Breakout  

Steve Vance, who leads the Transportation breakout, brought up a great topic at Open Gov Hack Night:  potential updates for Divvy’s software system. The idea came from a well-known user of the Divvy bikes, a customer who takes over 200 trips a year,  who was complaining that he encountered many empty or full stations and this was disrupting his travel plans. He said that Divvy’s re-balancing, where Divvy moves bikes from one station to another, is unacceptable. Divvy responded that they re-balance from 6 AM to 11:59 PM, but the customer said he wasn’t trying to use the system outside those times.

This is no bueno. So, the group came up with the idea to create a website or app to address the re-balancing issue. There are websites that Chicagoans can already use to get information about if stations are full or empty. This first is BikeIt which is an app that predicts availability at the docks and information on trends.  Next is Ride Scout which notifies you when the dock is full. And finally, the official  Divvy website tells you about the amount of bikes and how many are empty at a station.

However, these sites don’t solve the initial problem of re-balancing because the timings of re-balancing are not on point. For example, when riders want to go home there won’t be any bikes at a station near them while five or six blocks away they are full or empty.


Possible Solutions

A few Transportation participants discussed some potential solutions to this problem. Gabe wants to have a ticker on the  website that has a live update of up to 8 hrs and designed a visual this chart that is showing how many docks are empty and full in the recent past.

Steven suggested that it would be useful for apps or the station kiosks to alert users when a van would be arriving to make a station less empty or less full (by adding or removing bicycles).

Eric posed a question to the group, “Which is worse: the number of customers not being able to get a bike or not being able to return a bike?” He thought of creating a survey for Divvy users to find out more.

Andrea suggested Divvy users should have an extra 15 minutes when going up a hill. For those who have a limited time on the bike and need to go up a hill to make it on time should get extra time. Going up a hill takes great energy and riding it after work is not easy. Divvy has a 30 minute rule, if you turn a Divvy bike to its station within 30 minutes you avoid over charges. This is  so that Divvy stations are not empty or full.

To Get Involved

The transportation breakout group still has much to discuss and in need of solutions. If transportation is your means of travel then come to Open Gov Hack Nights and join in on the discussion of Transportation on Divvy Savvy. Transportation is open to anyone who is interested in bikes, buses, metra, or the CTA trains.