Lyft completed its nearly year-long effort to buy Motivate, the largest U.S. bike rental operator, and said it would invest an additional $100 million into its largest bike market, New York City. Lyft said it planned to more than triple the number of available bikes there over the next five years. Motivate also runs systems in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C., owning essentially a monopoly on bike rentals, thanks to exclusive or semi-exclusive contracts with cities. Look for Uber (and its Jump Bikes service) and Lime to try to challenge those agreements in the coming years.
Lyft is now building up its own bike- and scooter division that will absorb Motivate and is run by a former Tesla supply-chain executive. Lyft also appears to be doubling down on a bike rental model that relies on physical stations, rather than the “dockless” model pioneered with bike rentals in China and electric scooter rentals in the U.S. Caroline Samponaro, Lyft’s head of scooter, bike and pedestrian policy, said at a conference Thursday that those stations could eventually be used as battery charging stations for e-bikes. “We’re playing a long game, and that should be clear,” she said.