Sources: Portland bike share talks break down, Uber now in line for major expansion contract

A Jump bicycle in Seattle.
(Photo: Seattle Department of Transportation)

Sources say the Portland Bureau of Transportation has ended bike share contract negotiations with Lyft and is now jumping on board with Uber.

PBOT sought bidders for a major bike share system expansion last fall and opted to stay with Lyft, the company that owns Biketown operator Motivate Inc. Portland’s current contract with Lyft ended in April and PBOT had been negotiating an extension of that agreement since December. As The Oregonian reported in January, the plan was to stay with Lyft and complete a seamless transition to a larger service area and launch an all-electric bike share fleet this summer.

That plan appears to have shifted.

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Lyft and transit partners launch ‘Ditch your car’ contest in Portland

It’s very true. Try it!

“We spend so much time, money, and effort driving around cities. Wouldn’t it be great if we could leave our cars at home sometimes?”

That’s the headline for a new contest just launched by ridesharing company Lyft. The “Ditch Your Car” challenge is a partnership between Lyft and local public transportation providers including Biketown, TriMet, Portland Streetcar, and Zipcar.

50 lucky Portlanders will be chosen through an online sign-up form to participate. They’ll be given $549 in ride credits to use for one month. Winners will get $300 credit from Lyft, a 1-month Zipcar membership (with free activation), plus $100 drive credit, a 1-month TriMet and Portland Streetcar pass, and a 1-month Biketown membership (good for 90 minutes of Biketown a day for a month).

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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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Lyft to acquire Biketown operator Motivate for $250 million

Portland’s bike share system is now managed by Lyft while it uses bikes and technology owned by Uber.

On the same day Biketown launches a major service area expansion and host of other changes, Lyft is finalizing a $250 million deal to acquire Motivate, Inc. — the company that operates Portland’s bike share system.

The deal has potentially huge implications for the future of not only bike share in Portland, but the sharing of all types of last-mile solutions including bikes, electric-bikes, and “micro-mobility” vehicles like electric scooters.

It’s also sort of an awkward mess. Here’s why: The bright orange bikes Motivate uses in the Biketown system were designed and made by a company known as Social Bicycles, which was re-launched as Jump Bikes in January. Then in April, Jump was acquired by Uber, Lyft’s main rival. That means Portland’s bike share system is now managed by Lyft while it uses bikes and technology owned by Uber. What could possibly go wrong?

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