New Name for Alta Bicycle Share: “Motivate”

With a new name, Motivate is telling cities more bike-share stations are on the way. Photo: Citi Bike

After new management took over in 2014, injecting capital and expertise that’s expected to turn around a sputtering operation, the company formerly known as Alta Bicycle Share has adopted a new name: Motivate. (A verb! Very active transportation-y.)

Motivate operates bike-share systems in New York, DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, making it the dominant player in the American bike-share market. While the company isn’t releasing details about how it plans to upgrade the problematic software and equipment that’s held back system growth in those cities and stalled the launch of systems elsewhere, today’s announcement promised a new wave of expansion.

“As cities change and grow more rapidly than ever, only bike share is flexible and personalized to keep pace,” CEO Jay Walder said in the statement. “Now, with the backing of new ownership, Motivate is positioned to deliver even better service to cities and bring bike share to scale.”

Walder told U.S. News that changes are underway now in preparation for peak bike-share season. “We’re trying to use the winter to be able to get things done,” he said.

Public presentations about adding Citi Bike stations started up last month in New York.

  • blindeke

    i guess i’m a curmudgeon, but i don’t like the change

  • Jeff

    It sounds like the name of a non-profit who uses bikes to get teenagers to stop doing drugs or something.

  • Reader

    It’s nice to see Jay Walder touting his own biking credentials with a great quote about riding in the city.

    “When I get on a bicycle and I take that ride I feel connected in different ways,” he said. “It’s very tactile, everything about the city is jumping out at me.”

  • Brooklynite

    Great name. Looking forward to adding the Motivate swag to my pile of WebVan,, eToys, UrbanFetch and t-shirts.

  • Jeff

    “everything about the city is jumping out at me.”

    Quite literally, in my experience!

  • ocschwar

    It’s never a good sign when a corporation feels the need to shed a brand. Grow a spine, guys. Fix your financing problems and move on. Don’t try to cover them up.

  • pelican58

    Are they planning to go back to 8D software in NYC? That’s would be a much bigger improvement than a silly name change.

  • this is definitely a prelude to bigger changes, not the main event.

  • Thats a really dumb name.

  • JoshNY

    I never loved the name “Alta” (reminds me of “Altria”). Maybe this one will grow on me.

  • Canonchet

    One hopes that motivation begins at home, with a commitment to responsive customer service and systematic repair and restocking of bike docks.

  • dporpentine

    Christ on a crutch. That’s the name you give to a crappy Greek yogurt bar, not a bike share company.

    Names are pretty reliable signal of how smart a company is. In this case . . .

  • com63

    Who thinks we are going to see a wholesale swapping of bikes and kiosks this winter for a system that doesn’t have bugs? That would be great, but a pretty major undertaking.

  • qrt145

    Is the name seriously just “Motivate” and not something like “Motivate Bicycle Share”? If so, it’s ridiculously cryptic. Even Apple was really called “Apple Computer”, and only dropped the computer part after they became so famous that plain “Apple” wouldn’t be cryptic except to Forrest Gump.

  • AnoNYC


  • Cold Shoaler

    That’s what I thought. Maybe not the best pitch to novice riders. Glad he’s enthusiastic about actually riding, though. Motivate(d) like.

  • BBnet3000

    They may only have to change out some electronics and not replace the entire stations. I certain hope so…

  • com63

    I was just thinking that Bixi’s problems have been holding up expansion and maybe the best way to expand is just to abandon their technology altogether and go with an entirely new bike, rack and kiosk.

  • J

    Who are the ad wizards that came up this one?

  • “Alta” is a real word that just means “higher,” or “upper” (kind of like Uber if it had an umlaut), and is related to Alta Planning. “Altria” is a made-up marketing wordoid intended to invoke altruism, when in fact it’s a company dedicated to killing people with nicotine addiction. Pretty easy to tell them apart.

  • JoshNY

    Yeah, I get that, just saying that they sound similar.

  • How about we eliminate the kiosks altogether – the major cost and user-UNfriendly part of any bike-share system!

  • Dallas

    After Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch of the West…
    The First Thing the Guards did was to say..
    “Hail to Dorothy! The Wicked Witch is dead!”
    The Second Thing was to burn all their “Wicked Witch of the West” underwear.
    Changing from “Alta” to “MOTIVATE” is final proof that the WITCH is DEAD!



Bay Area Bike Share to Expand Tenfold By 2017

Bay Area Bike Share will expand to a 7,000-bike system over the next two years and venture into Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville. San Francisco’s system will dramatically increase to 4,500 bikes, and San Jose’s will expand to 1,000. The mayors of all five cities announced the expansion today along with Motivate, the system’s operator (formerly known as […]
Shared bikes in Shanghai. Photo: Mark Gorton

Bike-Share as a Speculative Venture

New York, you may have heard, is about to get invaded by a swarm of bike-share companies - often described as "dockless" bike-share because they use "smart locks," not fixed stations, to secure the bicycles. But dockless systems have been operating in American cities for some time now. The real distinguishing feature of the new arrivals is that they're financed like Silicon Valley start-ups.