SUMC conducted an evaluation of the first 18 months of CDOT’s Bike Chicago program, which aims to distribute more than 5,000 bicycles directly to Chicago residents.

June 18, 2024

Media Contact  
Megan Perrero, Senior Communications Specialist
[email protected]


CHICAGO, June 18, 2024 – The Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC), with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, conducted and published an evaluation of the first 18 months of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Bike Chicago program. The program aims to put more than 5,000 bicycles directly in the hands of Chicago residents. 

The evaluation report assesses the program’s impacts on those who have already received bikes to examine how Bike Chicago and similar programs can expand biking; influence attitudes towards active transportation; put more destinations within reach; and build new transportation habits. The report provides an overview of the program’s history, its operations, relevant research findings, quotes from users, and future recommendations for the project. 

“Bikes strengthen communities, alleviate poverty, and lessen air pollution,” said Pete Lauer, SUMC Program Manager, who served as lead on the evaluation report. “However, creating a bike culture takes time and energy, so by freely providing access to brand new bicycles, the city is generating a cultural impact that coincides with changes to the built environment.”

CDOT distributed nearly 1,900 bikes by the end of the evaluation period. Among program participants who responded to SUMC’s survey for the report, nearly two in five said they ride their new bikes three or more times a week, with one in eight riding daily. In open responses and interviews, many participants shared how the new bikes allow them to travel freely instead of relying on family members or other cost prohibitive mobility options. Access to bikes also led participants to completing more trips within their own neighborhood.  

Unlike other U.S.-based programs that are either smaller in scale or require participants to apply for vouchers for e-bike purchases, CDOT covers the entire cost of a single-speed bike, helmet and lights. This approach helps remove cost and administrative barriers, particularly for marginalized communities, and provides near-immediate access to mobility. To date, the majority of the bikes have gone to residents in areas with high levels of public transit and mobility or economic insecurity. The program is remarkably cost efficient, reaching residents at a total cost of around $650 per bike, including the bicycles themselves, helmets, locks, and lights, and training and supportive programming. 

Bike distribution began in summer 2022 and will continue into 2026. As of spring 2024, CDOT has distributed 2,000 of the bikes and is on track to distribute all 5,000 by the end of 2026.



SUMC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public interest organization and international thought leader working to replace car-centric transportation with people-focused shared mobility to fight climate change, promote equity, and strengthen community. Learn more at