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From 4 wheels to 2 wheels — Lyft looks to add CitiBike to its fleet

Uber could be trying to acquire Motivate from under Lyft's nose

It’s no longer enough to simply dominate the highways. Ride-sharing companies are now looking to expand their domain to bike lanes and sidewalks as well That’s being evidenced by Lyft, the San Francisco-based transportation giant that is reportedly close to closing a deal to acquire Motivate, the company behind the hit bike-sharing program Citibike. It is the largest bike-share program in the U.S., and according to The Information, this deal would cost Lyft about $250 million.

But before Lyft gets too comfortable in its acquisition plans, it may need to contend with its rival Uber, who is reportedly hoping to steal the Motivate deal right from under Lyft’s unsuspecting nose. As per a new report from Axios, Uber is now considering making an offer for Motivate as well. It’s unclear how much Uber would need to offer to convince the bike-sharing company to abandon its existing deal, but we would imagine that it’s well north of $250 million.

In recent weeks and months, a growing number of transportation companies have emerged that utilize not automobiles, but rather two-wheeled vehicles in order to move people from Point A to Point B. Not only are companies like LimeBike gaining in popularity, but other companies like Bird are beginning to capitalize on even more innovative forms of transportation like electric scooters. In fact, not so long ago, Lyft jumped on the e-scooter bandwagon by launching its own pilot program in San Francisco.

But while these scooters may be the trendier option these days, bike-sharing is already a well-established system, especially as far as Motivate is confirmed. The company is behind New York City’s perennially popular CitiBike, Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, Chicago’s Divvy, San Francisco’s FordGoBike, and Boston’s Hubway. In total, Motivate was responsible for at least 75 percent of the 35 million bike-share trips taken in 2017. That’s a 25 percent increase over 2016 data.

Needless to say, this is a booming market, and one that Lyft (and Uber) seems eager to get into. Indeed, not so long ago, Uber made a similar acquisition when it purchased Jump, a Brooklyn-based bike-sharing company, for about $200 million. Unlike CitiBike and other Motivate-run programs, Jump operates a dockless system, which offers commuters a bit more flexibility in terms of pick-up and drop-off locations. It’s significantly smaller than Motivate in terms of total bikes and total number of users, however, which could be an enormous boon to Lyft should the deal ultimately go through.

Though The Information reports that both Lyft and Motivate have agreed on the terms of the deal, it has yet to be finalized. And with reports of Uber trying to muscle its way in, we might be further from a conclusion than we think. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on the latest developments.

Updated on June 9: Uber may be trying to acquire Motivate, too. 

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