Lyft completed its acquisition of Motivate, the largest bike-share operators in North America, and in celebration, it announced that it will funnel $100 million into a dramatic expansion of Citi Bike in New York City.
With 12,000 docked bikes, Citi Bike is the largest bike-share system in the US. Now, thanks to a five-year $100 million investment from Lyft, it is on track to become one of the largest bike-share programs in the world. Citi Bike would grow to 40,000 bikes over that period, doubling its service area by 35 square miles, the company said.
More pedal-assist e-bikes will be added to the fleet as well, but Lyft would not say how many. “A significant portion” will be e-bikes, a spokesperson said. “We are still learning from our pilot how best to prepare for the L train shutdown, but early results show that demand for pedal-assist bikes is extremely high, and our investment will help meet that demand.”
And the bikes will be docked, rather than dockless, suggesting that Citi Bike’s experiment with dockless bikes over the summer has not lived up to its potential. “Citi Bike has been successful as a dock-based system and we want to build on that success,” the spokesperson added. “There may be some refinements along the way and will follow the city’s lead, but we believe the docked model has proven very successful.”
Citi Bike does not receive subsidies from the city, but it does retain exclusive rights to operate bike-share in its service area. That will make it tougher for some of the upstart dockless bike startups to expand, like Lime, Jump, and Pace.
As such, Citi Bike’s competitors are not happy about the news.
“After 5 years of operating in wealthier NYC communities, Citi Bike is now asking for another five years to expand and is still not committing to serve all New Yorkers,” said Josh Gold, senior policy and communications manager at Uber, which owns Jump, a pedal-assist bike-share company that is currently operating in Staten Island. “The city should work with all parties to ensure access to everyone who wants to ride a bike to get around their communities — not one company which has long left outer-borough New Yorkers stranded.”
A spokesperson for Lime added, “New York’s transportation equity problem requires an immediate solution — and the best solution for New Yorkers is for multiple companies to compete, delivering the most options to every community.”
The city is currently debating whether to lift its ban on e-bikes and scooters. New York is one of the last major markets to prohibit dockless vehicles. Lyft announced its acquisition of Motivate last July, a few months after Uber bought bike-share startup Jump. Both companies are jockeying to become one-stop shops for all types of available urban transportation, including cars, bikes, scooters, and more.
In addition to Citi Bike, Lyft also operates Ford Go Bike in San Francisco, Divvy Bike in Chicago, Blue Bikes in Boston, and Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC, in addition to other cities. But Lyft doesn’t have any immediate plans to grow those fleets right away.
Lyft also revealed a mock-up of its newly branded bikes and scooters that it intends to launch in additional markets in the near future.