This summer, the city of Chicago will launch a bike-sharing program with 75 docking stations and hundreds of bikes, with plans to expand to 400 stations and thousands of bikes by next summer.

The three-speed bikes will be painted the same color as the city's flag poles and are designed to stand up to the rigors of regular city riding. The program is being run under the name Divvy and is being operated by Alta Bicycle Share of Portland, Ore. The program will cost $22 million a year to operate but is expected to eventually pay for itself from user-fees and sponsorship money.

Memberships will cost $75 a year, or $7 per day, and will allow for unlimited trips under 30 minutes. An hourly surplus charge kicks in after the first half hour.

If things go well in this first phase, it is expected that the Divvy network would grow to include more territory covered by more bikes and docking stations. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pledged to build 645 miles of new bike paths by 2020, so it's probably a good idea to get ahead of the curve with bike sharing and start planting the seeds of a more bicycle-friendly future in the windy city.

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