Lyft Buys Bike-Share Company Motivate, Operator of Citi Bikes and More

The purchase price is a rumored $250 million.

In its acquisition of bike-share operator Motivate, Lyft will now manage Citi Bikes. (Credit: Amy Sussman/AP Images for Citi)

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Lyft has purchased the bike-sharing company Motivate, which operates Citi Bike in New York and many other bike-share systems nationwide, the New York Times reports.

It follows the news this spring that Uber had purchased Jump, the dockless electric bike-sharing startup, for around $200 million.

Motivate accounts for 80 percent of bike-share trips in the U.S., Lyft says. It operates not just New York’s Citi Bike but also Ford’s GoBike in San Francisco, Capital Bikeshare in D.C., Nice Ride Minnesota in Minneapolis and systems in Chicago, Boston, Portland, Oregon, and Columbus, Ohio, The Verge reports. These systems are traditional docked bikes, as opposed to the recent wave of dockless bicycles popping up in cities all over the country.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although The Verge says that the price was rumored to be around $250 million.

Lyft is taking over Motivate’s “technology, corporate functions and city contracts,” CNET reports. Its bike maintenance and servicing operations will remain a stand-alone business, possibly because they are unionized, a source told CNET.

It is unclear how or if Lyft will integrate Motivate’s bike-share systems into its app, but looking to Uber could provide some clues. Uber allows riders to reserve a bike directly within the Uber app. Many Motivate systems don’t require an app for picking up a bike, though the app speeds up the process.

The acquisition, Lyft said in a blog post, “demonstrates Lyft’s commitment to a more sustainable world as part of our Green Cities Initiative” and comes soon after the company announced that all of its rides would be carbon neutral through the purchase of carbon credits. “We will invest to establish bike offerings in our major markets and pursue growth and innovation in the markets where Motivate currently operates.”

“We are particularly excited to work with cities on delivering innovation, including providing dockless and pedal-assist electric bikes to riders around the country, and Lyft will put resources behind the work that the Motivate team has begun,” the company added.

Motivate has 800 employees. It was not clear at press time how many will be moving to Lyft, how many are staying with the bike-maintenance arm of the company and whether anyone will lose their jobs.

The New York Times notes that while the bike-share market is not yet huge, it could eventually cut into the ride-share market if it continues to grow. “Offering alternatives to car rides allows Uber and Lyft to keep people using their services when taking a car makes little sense, particularly for short trips,” says the Times.

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Rachel Kaufman is Next City's senior editor, responsible for our daily journalism. She was a longtime Next City freelance writer and editor before coming on staff full-time. She has covered transportation, sustainability, science and tech. Her writing has appeared in Inc., National Geographic News, Scientific American and other outlets.

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Tags: bike-sharelyftciti bike

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