Alta, B-Cycle on Portland’s shortlist for bike sharing contract

Alta, B-Cycle on Portland’s shortlist for bike sharing contract

Bike share demo-17-17DSC_3069-9

And then there were two.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland announced this afternoon that they’ve narrowed their choice of vendors to manage the city’s $4 million bike sharing system to just two candidates: Alta Bicycle Share and B-Cycle.

Alta is the spinoff of locally headquartered Alta Planning + Design, a world-renowned planning firm known for its expertise in bicycling and walking. Alta’s President, Mia Birk, gained notoriety in the 1990s when she was bicycle coordinator at the Portland Bureau of Transportation. B-Cycle is based in Madison, Wisconsin and was formed in 2008 through a partnership between Trek Bicycle Corportation, Humana (a health services provider) and Crispin, Porter + Bogusky (a PR firm).

In a memo released today, the City’s Chief Procurement Officer stated that Alta and B-Cycle scored the highest of the four initial proposers and will now move into a final, oral interview stage of the selection process.

Alta has been on a major roll in the bike sharing business. In just a few years, they have emerged as the top bike sharing provider in North America. In March they secured the contract to provide a bike sharing system for the City of Chicago and last year they won a coveted contract for New York City’s system. That system will be the largest in North America with 10,000 bikes and Alta President Birk said winning the contract was a “game-changer” for her company and for bike sharing in general.


While B-Cycle and Alta are competitors in one sense, their business models are very different. B-Cycle, with its backing from Trek, is focused on selling its bikes and kiosks, while Alta is a full-service operator that manages the entire system, from providing all the equipment to planning where the kiosks should be located.

Both companies took part in a public demonstration of their systems in downtown Portland in September 2011. I shared thoughts on each of their bikes (Alta uses bikes from Bixi, a system developed by the City of Montreal) in a recap of that event and you can watch a video demonstration of the B-Cycle system and learn more in a recap by Joseph Rose of The Oregonian.

PBOT expects to roll out their 740 bike system in spring of next year. Learn more on the Portland Bike Share website.

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