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Local company in running for $200 million NYC bike-share contract

Posted by on March 16th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

City of Portland bike sharing demonstration-22

Alta Bicycle Share would operate
a system like this on the streets of
New York City.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Crain’s Insider, a New York-based business news publication, says two companies remain in the running for a $200 million contract to run a bike-share program in New York City. According to Crain’s, B-cycle and Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share are competing for the lucrative contract.

Alta Bicycle Share is a spinoff of Alta Planning + Design, a company that helps cities around the world plan and implement biking and walking facilities. In September of last year, Alta Bicycle Share launched Capital Bikeshare in Washington DC. That system is one of the largest in the U.S. with over 100 kiosks offering members 1,100 bikes accessible through a key-card system.

New York City DOT is looking to launch what would be by far the largest bike-share system in the country with an estimated 10,000 bicycles spread over 600 stations.

Alta’s experience in New York City (if they win the contract), could offer important lessons for Portland (if we ever decide to pull the trigger). One of the stumbling blocks for Portland’s efforts has been a pledge by Mayor Sam Adams that it does not use public funds. Similarly, the NYC system is going to be privately financed through a system of sponsorships and user fees.

Representatives of Alta Bicycle Share declined to comment on this article.

On April 8th, former Director of the Washington DC Department of Transportation, Gabe Klein, and Alta Bicycle Share President Alison Cohen will present a lecture about bike-sharing at Portland State University. More details on that event here.

– Read more about Portland’s on-again, off-again efforts to launch a bike-sharing system in our archives.

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  • Tim Davis March 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I hope Alta wins!! Whether they get the NYC contract or not, they definitely need to build the bike-share system in PDX. It’s about time…

    Of course, I’d also be happy to also see some progress made (after seemingly centuries of waiting) on an integrated bike trail network. These two things are the ONLY way we will be able to pry 90% of metro-area residents from their cars. I’m confident to cycle on any street (as are 99% of BikePortland’s readers), but painting lines or arrows on a street will do almost nothing to increase the percentage of traveling by bike (especially to and from work) in the metro area. Other cities are literally building trail circles around us. Sorry to digress here… 🙂

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  • Brandon Van Buskirk March 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    If Portland ever does the bike sharing thing, we should paint them golden rod & dub them “yellow bikes.”

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  • Todd Boulanger March 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Or Yellow Bikes Part B

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  • Todd Edelman March 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    I don’t understand. B-Cycle is a bike share system and Alta is a consultancy. What solution is Alta providing? Are we sure it is not Alta AND B-Cycle?

    This process has gone extremely fast. I have serious doubts about the plan for NYC to make money from this, and undoubtedly will mean that nasty companies making unsustainable things will support cycling there. This is bikewash.

    Related, the no public funds stance of Sam Adams makes little sense if one considers bike share to be a type of public transportation, and which makes most sense to be seamlessly integrated with it. Does PT in PDX pay for itself or make money?

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  • Todd Edelman March 17, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Oh, I see that Alta operates Capital Cycleshare in D.C….

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  • Chris I March 17, 2011 at 6:42 am


    In response to your comments about public funds, I would argue that it should receive subsidies because it is a form of transportation, because all transportation is subsidized. As much as the auto and airline industries would want you to believe, they do not cover all of their capital and operating costs.

    However, in this time of budget austerity, the best approach may be to start up a pilot program that is budget neutral, using areas of the city that will have very high utilization (tourist areas, for example). Once the non-subsidized pilot is working, they can expand it to other sectors of the city using some public money.

    Because I love posting it:

    Select Oregon in the menu and you will see exactly how much is paid by “user fees”.

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  • Paul Cone March 17, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Declined to comment? What kind of marketing is that?

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  • spanky March 17, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I talked to an employee of alta who said frankly that Portland is not a candidate for a bike share. The main problem is the population density is too low. They said that that there are some smaller bike share companies that have programs in places like boulder who might be able to work with Portland though.

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  • PorterStout March 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Is it also that in a place like NYC, you have lots of folks that might be interested in riding a bike but don’t currently own one because there’s no room in their 300 sq ft apartment, and because there’s still insufficient infrastructure for most folks to feel like it’s worth purchasing one, etc? In a place like Portland, most people who would be interested already own a bike and already ride it. Maybe it’s an issue of the size of the “untapped market potential.”

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