Public Bike Share Delays, Snafus, and Improprieties

By LASIS Staff

It hasn’t made big headlines yet.  But look carefully, and you’ll find that the media has been chirping about the city of Chicago’s selection of the company to run its public bike share system, which looks like it may have been less than kosher.

A formal protest was launched by Josh Squire ,President of Bike Chicago, who alleges that “the entire RFP process was tainted.”

Mr. Squire competed and lost in the Chicago contest.

So are his allegations legitimate or just sour grapes?

We reviewed the complaint, and in our estimation, Mr. Squire has it right.  There were many improprieties, and lots Chicago will now have to answer for.

With public bike shares rolling out all across the country, we wondered whether any other cities might be guilty of improper conduct. And though we can’t say for sure, we didn’t have to look further than our own backyard.

New York City Department of Transportation:  Say it ain’t so. 

We obtained this timeline, which includes these facts pertinent to the New York bids.

  • November 22, 2010: New York City issued its RFP for the operation of its bike share program.
  • December 8, 2010:  DC Director of Transportation, Gabe Klein, who helped choose Alta (the very same company that would be chosen in NY) for the bike share in Arlington (and through that, the bike share in DC), steps down.
  • January 2011 – March 2011:  Mr. Klein is a consultant to Alta in responding to the New York RFP.

This is the same Mr. Klein who now states that he recused himself in the Chicago selection of Alta — despite evidence to the contrary.

It seems the selection of Alta was preordained in New York.

This is especially so because its supplier, Public Bike Share Company, had been having problems for many months before Alta’s selection in New York.

The situation has not improved.

Press reports now tell us that the software Alta had planned on using in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is kaput.   This is the same software that Alta would be bringing to New York.

To date, Alta has yet to receive funding (or at least announce it has any).

More and more, citizens are demanding transparency.

And it seems that as far as public bike share system RFPs go, we’re not getting it.

UPDATE:  August, 2012:  We hate to  say “we told you so”, but there are now serious delays in Alta’s bike share systems in both Chicago and (more importantly, to us), New York.  So:   We wish we’d been wrong.  But we told you so.



2 Responses

  1. Max says:

    Where did you get this info? Why isn’t this being written about in the mainstream press? Either the info you have is wrong, or you’re way ahead of the media on this one!! But it does seem odd that you wrote this back in May and the company running the NY Bike Share is not responding to inquiries.

    And no working bike share program here in the city yet!

  2. Clive says:

    It’s over six months later and more delays have been announced. The city is blaming it on Hurricane Sandy, but that’s just a convenient excuse. The delays would have happened anyway.

    Alta is now promising a smaller bike share, a year late. We don’t even know if it will deliver then. It’s bikeshares across the country continue to have problems.

    Finally, some people in New York are examining the problem.
    Good Gotham piece — though the press needs to do some more digging. There’s something rotten in the state of Alta.


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