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Proof That Bike-Share Generates More Foot Traffic Than Free Parking

“Divvy user Richard Hurh at the Smoke Daddy docking station. Photo: John Greenfield

[This article also appeared in “Checkerboard City,” John’s column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]

As I’ve written, the 32nd Ward’s Scott Waguespack is a good guy, and he’s one of Chicago’s best aldermen. A key independent voice and reformer, he’s sort of the Eliot Ness of City Council. He made headlines for leading the opposition to Richard M. Daley’s much-hated parking-meter contract, as well as Rahm Emanuel’s fishy reboot of the deal. Waguespack is generally a strong supporter of sustainable transportation, and he bike commutes regularly—he’s been doored or struck by cars on multiple occasions.

It’s a bummer when a politician you respect is on the wrong side of an issue you care about. So I was distressed to read quotes from the alderman that seemed critical of Chicago Department of Transportation initiatives that convert car parking spaces to productive uses like Divvy bike-share stations, on-street bike racks and “People Spots” seating areas. “Bike shares, People Spots … what will that do to businesses?” he asked at a community event this spring.

alderman_scott_waguespack

Alderman Scott Waguespack.

In early July Waguespack voiced concern over a proposal to swap car spaces for a new People Spot in front of Dimo’s Pizza, 1615 North Damen in Bucktown. “Loss of parking is huge. Everyone wants more. And this removes two [spaces],” he told DNAinfo. These comments suggested that the alderman hadn’t grasped the concept that it’s far more important to bring customers to a retail strip than it is to bring automobiles.

I recently talked to Waguespack’s chief of staff, Paul Sajovec, who clarified the alderman’s position on parking-space conversions. “With Divvy stations, our goal in working with CDOT was to have a maximum number of stations in the ward with a minimum amount of parking spaces removed,” Sajovec said. The ward was generally able to work with the transportation department to find station locations that didn’t require parking conversions.
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