Divvy South Side Profile: David Peterson, Pullman Resident + Advocate

Have you heard? Chicago’s beloved bike share system, Divvy, is finally expanding to the entirety of the city. MUSE has been asking residents in a swath of Far South Side communities from Beverly to the East Side where stations should go, where they’d ride, and how to improve mobility in these places, along with helping build excitement for the expansion.

Recently, we spoke with David Peterson, Jr., Executive Director of the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum in Pullman about why he is a cyclist and how he sees the prospect of Divvy’s expansion helping the South Side in a myriad of ways.

What is your connection to Pullman?

Pullman is where I grew up. I used to ride bikes around here when I was young. I got back into biking as a teenager and as a young adult, I rode with Slow Roll Chicago.

What is Slow Roll?

[Slow Roll does] neighborhood bike rides for equity and inclusion. People don’t know that these are living, breathing communities with good people here. When riding with us, people from the neighborhood are inspired, because they see their neighborhood from a different lens. People in the neighborhood ride their bikes pretty frequently individually, but when they see us collectively going through the neighborhood, it’s always a big spectacle. That’s why we do it, we like to include everyone in this biking conversation so we can let them know that this is something that is accessible to them as well.

What does it mean to be a cyclist?

To be a cyclist to me is to be an explorer. Someone who steps out in a place outside of their comfort zone and just rides. We ride for relaxation, we ride to clear our heads, we ride to explore. I ride frequently throughout the week – the lake shore bike path, through neighborhoods, all over.

How would South Siders use Divvy?

People would use Divvy near the different schools, when they get off of Metra, or coming to the Pullman National Monument. They could get a Divvy to explore the neighborhood, which is pretty big to walk, but on a bike it would be much more accessible.

What would Divvy’s expansion mean for Pullman?

Divvy coming would give us the capacity to give people more options. I think there is a great opportunity for Divvy to increase mobility in the neighborhood, making it more bikeable. Mobility is the ability to move around at your leisure and Divvy could give students the ability to ride to and from school, or just to ride for recreation on the weekends. And people here are interested [in biking], they just don’t have the access. Divvy coming in would give people more options for those wanting to bike.

To bike through Pullman is somewhat of a challenge because there is not a lot of bike lanes here. When we get tourists from around the world, some of them would love to be able to access Pullman by bike, but they can’t. Divvy coming in would give us more bike access in the neighborhood, it would give us more access for outdoor recreation.

How would more bike access impact health?

In our community we have extremely high levels of diabetes, hypertension, and things of that nature. A lot of people have not ridden a bike since they were kids and they don’t have access to a bike.

Also, we need safe spaces for people to be able engage in outdoor recreation. When you see more bike lanes, you see that this is a neighborhood that cares. It lets you know that people in the neighborhood care about their health and wellness, that people get out and exercise. Here, you don’t see that in the abundance that you should, so we want to increase that.

Visit www.divvybikes.com/blog for the latest updates about Divvy’s expansion, biking tips, and other news.