The city hasn't announced a sponsor for Portland's forthcoming bike share system, but it's close enough to an agreement with one big-money sponsor that branding is being hammered out.

Earlier this month, transportation Commissioner Steve Novick told the Mercury "significant commitments" were on the table for bike share—which has struggled all year to secure millions in sponsorship funding. That's confirmed in the latest progress report filed with the city by Alta Bicycle Share, which last year won a contract to get bike share up and running in Portland.

The memo—previously obtained by Willamette Week—was given to Portland Bureau of Transportation staff on December 4. The document makes clear nothing's been finalized. But there's also a sense that Alta's close to reaching an agreement with a "title sponsor," which would pay a substantial amount to lend its name to the system (think Citibank to New York's Citi Bike). And Alta seems to be holding out hope the city will make its spring 2014 rollout target for the system.

From the memo:


Whether or not the city's firmly secured the roughly $5.5 million needed to purchase, set up, and operate a 750-bike system for five years has been debated recently. reported yesterday agreements had been reached, pointing to a recent application PBOT filed for state grant funding.

The application says at one point: "Bike share private sponsorships are secured and available before the initial system launch in 2014." That caught my eye when I first looked over the application, too, but the context of that sentence is important.

It's an answer to this prompt: "Describe how and when these steps will occur. If unknown or unconfirmed, explain or describe necessary steps for funding assistance." So it seems the city could be merely saying it will carry out its plans for the grant funding (it wants to use the money to expand the bike share system) ONCE bike share sponsorships are secured. It's confusing.

At any rate, as Willamette Week pointed out yesterday, the Alta memo was submitted weeks after the grant application, and is fairly unambiguous as to the state of negotiations. But if Alta wants to meet the spring 2014 target date, it will need to move quickly. PBOT has said it will take an estimated six months to purchase and install a bike share system here. Spring ends in late June.