As Portland works feverishly to launch a 750-unit bike share system this year, there's a bit of worrisome news. The Canadian company we've been planning to source those bikes from filed for bankruptcy yesterday. From the New York Times:
OTTAWA — The Canadian company that designs and builds the bicycles and supporting technology for bike-sharing systems around the world, including those in New York and London, sought bankruptcy protection on Monday.
Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal, told reporters that a failed, if ambitious, international expansion plan and a financial dispute with some United States cities, including New York, had forced the move by Société de Vélo en Libre-Service, a nonprofit company, better known as Bixi.
The move will allow the company, which was spun off from the city of Montreal, to continue to operate in the short term. But untangling the financial and legal mess surrounding its operations will most likely be a more protracted business.
Bixi is a long-time business partner of Alta Bicycle Share, the Portland company that's working to secure sponsorship money to purchase and run a system here. So the company's bankruptcy poses a big question: Once Alta gets the cash, will there even be bikes to purchase?
According to Mia Birk, Alta's vice president, the answer is yes. She tells the Mercury:
"This is a legal restructuring, which is a common option for companies who need assistance with financial and operational issues. All our bike share systems and call centers are operating normally. We are continuing to communicate with Bixi and our bicycle supplier, DeVinci, as we normally do. Ultimately, we are confident that this will be a positive result for Portland. Our 2014 system will launch as planned."
Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick says he's aware of the bankruptcy filing, and that he's been told by Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat that "it's nothing to worry about."