Portland Bike Share Still Shopping for Sponsors

Nearly a year after Portland Bike Share was supposed to launch, local vendor Alta Bike Share is still trying to reach a deal with potential corporate sponsors, a document from the Portland Bureau of Transportation shows.

A Dec. 4 memo from Alta Bike Share vice president Mia Birk to PBOT staff says the bike-share operator is "continuing to make progress on resolving the outstanding issues of the agreement" with a title sponsor.

"In our experience, these agreements take multiple iterations to resolve," Birk writes the city, "and we are confident that we will come to a final version in the coming weeks."

That sponsor's name has been redacted from the document, obtained by WW in a public records request. But sources and previous documents indicate the company, which would have is logo on the city's fleet of rental bicycles, is likely to be health insurer Kaiser Permanente.

The memo also shows Alta is waiting from responses from two other smaller sponsors, including a bank that showed "renewed interest" in November.

After months of delay, Portland officials have recently started moving forward with the bike-share system.

City Commissioner Steve Novick and PBOT asked the state Nov. 21 for a $2.5 million grant to fund the second phase of the project, and PBOT has scheduled meetings to discuss the bike-share system with members of City Council in recent weeks.

But as WW reported in August, the money from potential sponsors is arriving so slowly that that the bike-share program will need a loan from the city to launch by its planned start in spring 2014. 

Bike Portland pointed out earlier this afternoon that PBOT and Novick's Nov. 21 grant application appears to claim Portland Bike Share had locked down corporate funding. "Bike share private sponsorships are secured," the application says.

But the Dec. 4 memo shows no agreements have been reached.

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera says the grant application only "expressed our confidence that we will finalize agreements to launch bike share in 2014. We are currently in negotiations."

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