Former Divvy GM Elliot Greenberger left for Lyft in 2017. Now Lyft is buying Divvy's operator. Credit: Chicago Sun-Times

Lyft drivers are behind the wheel in a large percentage of cars on Chicago roadways—and now the ride-share company is looking to gobble up many of the bikes on the streets too.

The San Francisco-based transportation company is buying Motivate, the private company that operates Chicago’s bike-share system, Divvy. The cost? At least $250 million, according to a report published by tech news website the Information, which says the two companies have agreed to the terms of the deal but not finalized it. A spokesman for Lyft declined to comment. Motivate didn’t respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Motivate, headquartered in Brooklyn, runs 11 different bike systems across North America. It both owns and operates some cities’ bike-share programs such as CitiBike in New York City and Ford GoBike in California. But it has a unique public-private arrangement with the city of Chicago—the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) owns the city’s bikes, stations, and vehicles, while Motivate is paid to run it.

In buying Motivate, Lyft is leaping further into the urban transportation arms race by banking on docking bicycle systems to beat out the new wave of dockless bike shares. Uber—Lyft’s rival—bought the dockless electric bike start-up company Jump in April, which it has since been renamed Uber Bike. Meanwhile, LimeBike has begun testing Chicago as a new destination city with a pilot program on the south side that rolled out last month.

Divvy—about to celebrate its fifth anniversary—launched in the summer of 2013 at the cost of nearly $28 million. It has expanded its fleet from only 750 bikes at 75 stations to 6,000 bikes at 580 stations across the city. According to Motivate, there were over 400,000 rides taken during the month of May.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Elliot Greenberger—Divvy’s general manager—left the program at the end of 2017 to join Lyft, as a market manager for southern California.