Divvy Bike Guide

The Divvy Bike system is one of the best new ways to get around the city on a budget. Divvy Bikes are one of the nation’s most successful urban bike sharing programs.  Basically, you sign up, find a Divvy Bike station near you, enter A code, grab a bike and you’re off! Chicago has a gigantic network of more than 580 Divvy Bike stations that you can pick up and return your bike to.

Chicago Divvy Bikes

Whether you don’t have a car, are looking to explore the city on bike or just want to get some exercise, Divvy Bike is for you. It is more convenient than owning your own bike because at any time, you can drop it off at a station and get a cab or an Uber. Or if you go home with a friend, you don’t need to take your bike with you! It is also a bit cheaper than buying your own bike, and you don’t have to worry about maintaining your bike or if it will get stolen.

If biking isn’t for you make sure to read our Guide to Getting Around Chicago to learn about all of your options.

How to Get Started

The first step to taking a spin on the blue bikes is to download the Divvy app and choose a pricing plan. Plans start at $3 for a single ride and go up to a yearly membership for $99. Our recommendation is to buy the daily pass for $15 which gives you unlimited 3-hour rides.

Once you have chosen a plan and paid, you use the app to find a Divvy Bike station near you. Here, you can get a code from your phone and you enter it to get your bike. It’s that simple! Once you are done with your ride, find a Divvy Bike station near you using your app and lock the bike back in. You do not need to drop it off at the stand you got it from! You can use any kiosk to drop it off, making Divvy even more convenient. Once you drop it off, you just need to wait for the green light and you’re all good!

Not only does Divvy save you money, you are also reducing your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win!

Currently, there are over 580 stations available around Chicago. If you look at their system map, it looks like there is a stand every block or so. This makes it very convenient for you, as you will most likely always be near a stand. With other similar services, stands could be limited making it hard to finish your return. Not with Divvy!

If you are a Chicago native, or just someone in town for a visit, you should consider using Divvy Bikes. You save time by avoiding traffic, you save money on gas/ride sharing, and you are going green. Download the app and get started today!

Chicago Travel Apps to Download Right Now

We’re so thankful that the days of getting lost in a new city are over! With smartphones, there are countless Chicago travel apps to help you navigate the city and beyond.  But there are so many apps to choose from. Free Chicago Walking Tours is here to help.  And you know we are listing the best free ones.

Before your trip, make sure to download these apps to help you navigate Chicago so you can focus on the important things like having the time of your life.

Transit Stop: CTA Tracker

Chicago Travel AppsThis is by far the most helpful Public Transportation app for navigating The Windy City. Transit Stop has live updates on the trains and busses in the Chicago. You will get detailed maps, arrival times, and be able to plan your route. In Chicago, public transportation is cheap. Take advantage of that while you are here! Don’t forget to check out Free Chicago Walking Tours Guide to Getting Around Chicago

 

 

SpotHero for Parking

Chicago Travel AppsFor those of you who are brave enough to drive around Chicago you need to get this app ASAP.  In fact, anybody living in or visiting a large city should have it. In a nutshell SpotHero allows users to find and purchase discounted parking spots all over Chicago. Say buh-bye to the days of paying full-price for parking!

 

 

 

Chicago Visitors Guide
Chicago Travel Apps

This handy app is a virtual version of the Chicago Visitors Guide by our friends at Choose Chicago. This app is 100% free and provides unbiased information as well as recommendations for the best restaurants, bars, and live entertainment is going on during your time in the city. It’s like your own personal concierge!

 

 

Ventra

Chicago Travel AppsIf you’re going to be in Chicago for a while (say, more than 2 days) and you’re going to ride public transportation (buses and trains) then you should consider downloading Ventra, Chicago Transit Authority’s payment system. This app won’t make or break your Chicago experience. You still need an actual Ventra card to board buses and trains, but you can skip some of the lines with this app.

 

 

Uber and Lyft

Chicago Travel AppsWe try not to take sides in the ride share battle. So we offer $5 off your first Uber ride and $5 off your first Lyft ride. Why not try them both and decide for yourself? If you need to get somewhere and don’t know your way around or if there are no trains or busses nearby, just open up one of these apps and your driver will magically appear. Rides are cheaper than taxis and your credit card is stored in the app for payment – no exchanging money! Hooray!

 

 

Download these Chicago travel apps and you will be navigating our city like a pro!

Did we miss an awesome app? Let us know!

Your guide to getting around in Chicago

Chicago is the countries 3rd largest city (as of July 2014) which means that you have access to all the bells and whistles as it pertains to getting around. Bikes, cars, buses, trains, boats – all are available to help you get from point A to point B in Chicago. But all of these options can be confusing. We’re here to help you sort them out.

Chicago Public Transportion

Besides walking – which we we talk about a little later – using public transportation in the City of Chicago is the most economical way of getting around. And with hundreds of bus routes, high-speed rail and our famous “L” trains it’s convenient too. Chicago is home to the country’s second largest public transportation network (more than 1.7 million rides per day). This system is operated, managed and serviced by the Chicago Transit Authority.

bus

Here is a quick breakdown of your options provided by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA):

  • Buses – CTA operates 1,865 buses, 128 routes and 1,354 route miles.* The bus routes are all numeric (i.e. route 36 or route 151). Our favorite app to help you manage arrival times of buses at specific stations are Ridescout & Ventra. Speaking of Ventra, make sure you read this section below on what exactly Ventra is and how to use it.
    • Full bus fare: $2.00
  • “L” Trains – The “L” stands for elevated, as in the trains run above the ground. These trains are often the most efficient to connect commuters to long(ish) distances within the city. The lines are organized by color. Blue, Red, Purple, Pink, Yellow, Green, Orange & Brown. There are trains that run to O’Hare (Blue Line) and Midway (Orange Line). Check out this “L” train map to familiarize yourself with the routes.
    • Full “L” train fare: $2.25
  • Metra – This is Chicago’s high-speed rail that connects the city with the surrounding suburbs. Because of how much ground is covered with these trains,  your best bet to learn which route is for you is to visit the official Metra website or Contact Us with any questions on planning your trip.

Visit CTA Fares & Tickets information.

Now is a great time to talk about Ventra. Ventura is the contact-less payment system used by the CTA. Ventra has an app that allows you to purchase mobile tickets and track arrival/departure times for buses and trains.

Buses will still accept cash (exact change only, $2 per route) but you will have to purchase a Ventra ticket when you ride the “L” trains. There are two options:

  1. Purchase a disposable ticket. The cost is actually $3.00 when you buy a single ticket from the Ventra machine at the train station. This includes your ride, up to 2 transfers and a $.50 limited use media fee. We have no clue what the limited use media fee is.You can also purchase a 1-day pass (still disposable) for $10. This pass is good for unlimited rides on CTA buses and “L” trains for 24hrs. If you think you are going to ride the trains and buses a few times in a day this is a great option.
  2. Purchase a plastic Ventra card and load cash balance or longer-term passes. This will cost you $5 initially when you purchase at the vending machine or a local retailer – the good news is you can covert that $5 into a transit credit by registering your account online at Ventra.com within 90 days. This is a great option if you’re going to be using public transportation for a week or longer.
    • 3-Day Pass – $20
    • 7-Day Pass – $28 ($33 if you include Pace bus service that services the Chicago Suburbs)
    • 30-Day Pass – $100

Chicago by Bike

bikes

Depending on which blog/news outlet you read Chicago can rank anywhere from the #2 most bike-friendly city in America to #6. Either way that is pretty dang good. Currently Chicago has over 200 miles of protected bike lanes in the city, 18.5 miles of off-street bike lanes along Lake Michigan and more than 13,000 bike rack spots. If you’re a cycling enthusiast than we probably won’t tell you much that you don’t already know. But if you’re visiting the city sans bike and are interested in riding, then make sure you check out Divvy.

Divvy Bikes is Chicago’s bike-sharing program with 4,760 bikes spread across their 476 stations throughout Chicago. Divvy bikes are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  You will want to read the how-to-guide provided by Divvy for all of the important details, but the basics are this:

  • You either purchase an annual membership online or, most likely, you will purchase a 24hr pass at the Divvy bike station near you. $9.95 for 24hr pass, $75 for annual pass.
  • 24hr pass purchases receive a code they enter into the bike station that allows them to use the Divvy bike for 30 minutes. Riders need to return the bike to any Divvy station within 30 minutes. You will be charged ($2 – $8) for any overtime. See Divvy pricing schedule for more details.
  • Rinse and repeat – you can do this for up to 24hrs with the $9.95 pass. It’s unlimited.

Tip: You could theoretically return and re-rent your Divvy bike immediately for those trips that are longer than 30 minutes. But if you’re going to ride for miles and do not want to stop, you’re better off renting a bicycle for the day from a bike shop. Bikechicago.com (Bike & Roll) is a top-rated bicycle renting and tour company in Chicago. $9/hr, $30/half day and $36/full day.

Chicago By Car

uber

There are plenty of options for getting around by cars in Chicago – you can drive (if you’re brave or have to), you can hail a taxi (easy breazy) or grab an Uber or Lyft (our personal favorite).

Taxis
If you’ve taken a taxi before then you are in good shape. There aren’t really any curve balls that will be thrown at you unless you take a city-based taxi from O’Hare airport and they drive you to a suburb – then you will be charged time and half. Please find below the rate schedule for taxis in Chicago as of January 1, 2016.

  • $3.25 base fare
  • $2.25 each additional mile
  • $.20 for every 36 seconds time elapsed
  • $1.00 first additional passenger
  • $.50 each additional passenger after the first additional passenger
  • $50.00 vomit cleanup fee
  • $4.00 Illinois airport departure tax

Private Transportation
Technology companies such as Uber & Lyft are taking the country by storm offering customers the ability to quickly schedule a car to pick them up and take them to their destination within minutes from their smartphones – and most of the time it’s cheaper than a cab.  Our two favorites are Uber & Lyft.

Both Uber & Lyft work in the same way. You download the app, setup an account, add your credit card information and start booking your rides. It really is so easy. Once you try out one of the companies it will be hard to go back to the traditional hailing a cab – especially in bad weather. Some other aspects of this type of ride that we love is not having to exchange cash or even get your wallet out. The transaction is all handled through the app with the credit card information you provided and saved to your profile. The drivers are rated by users (on a scale from 1-5). If drivers are poorly rated they risk having their driving privileges suspended (i.e. – can no longer make money). Drivers are therefore have an incentive to provide great service and get great reviews.

If you haven’t tried Uber or Lyft we have a special new customer promotion for you. You can get your first Uber ride for free (up to $15) and you can get $50 in Lyft ride credits (5 separate $10 credits) by signing up and using their apps today. New customers only.

Driving & Parking
We’re not sure where to start with this one. Driving in any city, including Chicago, can be a pain in the butt. Traffic into and out of the city, especially in the rush hour morning and evening, can drive just about anyone crazy. If you have (or want) to drive we recommend downloading either Google Maps or Waze. These two transit apps will ensure that your drive will be as fast as it possibly can be.

Parking is an entirely separate can of worms. So you made it to downtown Chicago and you still are sane? Great, but now you much find where to park. Chicago is not making it easy on your either. We have free parking on the streets, we have paid parking on the streets and we have permit-only parking on the streets – so make sure you are paying attention!

For those of you that are less adventurous and want to be sure you’re in a proper parking spot we have some good news. Once again technology comes to the rescue with a couple of apps helping you find the closest and cheapest parking available in the city.

  • Parking Panda will help you locate a parking spot by providing an address, city, neighborhood or zip code. They bill themselves as the #1 Parking App.
  • SpotHero operates in the same fashion priding itself on how quickly you can find, secure and pay for parking on their app.

Chicago by Boat

That’s right, boats. Chicago Water Taxi operates between a few popular locations along the famous Chicago River in the heart of downtown Chicago. Chicago Water Taxi Day Passes ($8 on weekdays, $10 on weekend), 10 ride passes ($17.50 weekday, $30 weekend) and a monthly pass for $60.

*Chicago Transit Authority, Spring 2016