It’s official: Lyft acquires Motivate, promises dockless e-bikes in existing markets

Get used to saying Lyft Bikes.

For the past month there’s been widespread speculation that ride-sharing giant Lyft would purchase Motivate, the bike share company that operates Portland’s Biketown system (among many others).

Now the deal is official, which means Lyft is the owner of the contract between Motivate and the City of Portland. And with Motivate’s existing presence in major cities like New York (Citibike), Chicago (Divvy), Washington DC (Capital Bikeshare), San Francisco (Ford GoBike) and others, it gives Lyft 80 percent of all U.S. bike share trips and a massive mobility footprint.

Here’s the press release we just received from Lyft (emphases mine):

Introducing Lyft Bikes

We are excited to announce that Lyft has reached a transformative agreement to acquire Motivate, the largest bikeshare operator in North America. Together Lyft and Motivate will revolutionize urban transportation and put bikeshare systems across the country on a path toward growth and innovation.

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PBOT has sent five companies letter of intent to join dockless e-scooter pilot

Promotional image from Bird, one of the companies Portland is in contact with.
(Photo: @Bird on Instagram)

The Oregonian has just reported on a letter sent from PBOT Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Director Leah Treat that solidifies the City’s intention to allow private companies to test dockless e-scooters in Portland this summer.

“… Companies could be notified by in the next couple weeks with more information,” The Oregonian reporter Andrew Theen writes, “Portland sent the letter to Skip, Spin, LimeBike, Bird and Goat.”

Here’s the text of the letter (dated May 29th):

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is planning a four-month pilot for dockless electric scooters beginning this summer (the “Pilot Period”). The pilot will help the City of Portland determine whether dockless e-scooters can support the City’s equity, mobility, and climate action goals.

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City of Portland considering pilot of dockless electric scooters this summer

Care to scoot?
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

In an attempt to ride the wave of a mobility revolution sweeping cities across the globe, the City of Portland has confirmed they are considering a launch of a program that would allow private companies to operate dockless e-scooters in the public right-of-way during a pilot period later this summer.

The scooters will be of the “dockless” variety, meaning they won’t need to be parked in a designated area or at a special kiosk. At least that’s how they work in most cities. Dockless e-scooters are newcomers in the shared mobility space and have only been launched in about four U.S. cities since last fall.

Details of the future Portland policy and potential operational restrictions private companies would have to abide by have not been made public yet. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has just started to talk about the program publicly.

The first public mention of the plans (that we know of) came Tuesday night when PBOT bike share program manager Steve Hoyt-McBeth was on the agenda of the monthly Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting. “The scooter share model is similar to dockless bike share,” read the agenda item. “Scooters are available for checkout in public space for short, one-way trips for a small fee and do not require any infrastructure to complete the trip.” Hoyt-McBeth wanted to ask the committee for specific guidance and feedback, “on electric scooter rental, including evaluation criteria and protecting pedestrian access and safety.”

Sidewalk space has put e-scooters in the eye of a media and political storm in other cities. San Francisco’s experience has been nothing short of a “saga“.

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