New York City

Motivated to ride a bike? Bike-share company changes name

January 14, 2015 By Karen Matthews Associated Press
Motivate will be competing with CitiBike. AP photo
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Now that it has moved from laid-back Portland, Oregon, to amped-up New York, the company that runs bike-sharing programs in New York, Chicago and other major cities is changing its name from Alta Bicycle Share to Motivate.

“I think it represents action, I think it represents energy, I think it’s reflective of movement,” Motivate CEO Jay Walder, who took over last fall after a career in public transportation, said Tuesday. “We wanted the name to reflect our energy and our passion and our connection to the things that make cities great.”

The change won’t affect the names of programs that Motivate manages in the U.S. and in Toronto and Melbourne, Australia. Citigroup has naming rights to New York’s Citi Bike through 2024, while Chicago’s system is called Divvy, Seattle’s is Pronto Cycle Share and in Columbus, Ohio, it’s CoGo.

Citi Bike, the largest bike-share system in the U.S. with 6,000 bikes, began operating in 2013 and has been plagued with technical glitches that some riders blamed on absentee management from Portland-based Alta.

Officials announced in October that partners from the developer Related Companies and the gym chain Equinox would take control of Alta, move it to New York and hire Walder as CEO.

They promised to expand Citi Bike to 12,000 bikes by the end of 2017 while extending the system’s reach into Queens, upper Manhattan and additional Brooklyn neighborhoods.

The cost of an annual membership went from $95 to $149, with the promise that bikes and docking stations will work better than they did in the past.

“We’re trying to use the winter to be able to get things done,” Walder said.

A former CEO of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority who also managed transit systems in London and Hong Kong, the 56-year-old Walder is touting the charms of the two-wheeled ride now.

“When I get on a bicycle and I take that ride I feel connected in different ways,” he said. “It’s very tactile, everything about the city is jumping out at me.”

Beyond New York, Walder sees bike-share programs expanding in every city Alta is involved with. “You’re seeing the vision in every city that they want to do more,” he said.

The next frontier may be car-centric Los Angeles, which is seeking bids to run a bike-sharing system. “Our company is very much looking into that,” Walder said.

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