Bike sharing selection process “tainted”, competitor alleges

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A resident tests a bicycle in Portland from the Nice Ride bike sharing system in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by BikePortland.

Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times reports today that the selection process to select a bike sharing manufacturer and operator (“vendor”) is “tainted”, according to Bike Chicago owner Josh Squire. You may be more familiar with the name Bike & Roll, which operates many bicycle rental facilities on the lakefront, as well as the Millennium Park Bike Station (McDonald’s Cycle Center) on behalf of the city. 

The complaint centers around several alleged improprieties and failures to follow the city’s own procurement rules: possible discussions that commissioner Gabe Klein had with Alta Planning + Design president Mia Birk at the gala both John and I attended back in October 2011. (I must note that Alta Planning and Alta Bicycle Share are separate corporations.) The complaint also regards the quick turnaround time for the first request for proposals and that a second request for proposals canceled the first and without explanation.

Read the full story and the City’s response on the Sun-Times website. Read our full coverage of bike sharing.

Full disclosure: Bike and Park is a sponsor of Grid Chicago and is affiliated with Bike Chicago and Bike & Roll.

13 thoughts on “Bike sharing selection process “tainted”, competitor alleges”

  1. The RFP process in Boston also wasnt quite right. The first RFP was cancelled and a second one issued with very little coverage. Alta quickly won that one.  In the process most of the terms were changed which just so happened to better suit the Alta business model.

  2. I frankly don’t care if the process was greased or not. I want bike share and I don’t care how hard they have to push to get it to come through.

    1.  Thats not a good attitude to have. To be successful, you need good implementation. A botched launched can screw up bike share in the city for years, because people associate the failed implementation with the technology as a whole.

      Is it possible that Alta will be the best operator for the city, and Public Bike System the best bike/station provider? Possibly. But wouldnt it be better if they were chosen because they actually are the best, and not because they are good buddies with those making the choice?

  3. I am sure the process was greased. Why wouldn’t it be? Of course it was. I feel bad for the people who truly thought they had a chance.

    The good news is that I like the Alta system here in DC more than I did the current Chicago system. Those bikes are too heavy and look like something grandma would ride.

    Still, it would be nice if they somehow did away with the pretense of fairness and just went with who they wanted in the first place. Would save everyone time, money and hassle.

    1. The B-Cycle program in Chicago was not something the city supported well aside from some space on Daley Plaza and other locations. Josh Squire told me that he got a loan from the Small Business Administration to start this pilot.
      I don’t believe the ordinance requires that there only be one bike sharing operator in the city, but only that the city would enter an agreement (for liability and revenue sharing) with a single operator.

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