JUST BIKE IT: As the sponsor of the city of Portland’s bike-sharing program, Nike plunked down $10 million to provide 1,000 branded bikes as part of a five-year deal. Called Biketown PDX, the two-wheelers have a signature swoosh and are bright orange, the same shade as a Nike shoe box. Nike has more than 5,700 employees living in Portland, Ore., a company spokesman said Friday.
With 350 miles of bikeways covering 8.5 square miles, Oregon’s capital — and Nike’s home state — has one of the largest and oldest biking circuits in the country, dating back to the Seventies. The city of 600,000 also has one of the highest percentages of commuters who cycle their way to work — 7.2 percent for nearly 20 years, according to Portland Bureau of Transportation’s chief information officer Dylan Rivera. “It’s been a phenomenal success. We said we’d give it six to 12 months before we’d consider expanding adjacent locations or expanding the square footage.”
Before Nike was chosen from a field of dozens of other national and local contenders, Portland planned to launch its bike program with 600 bikes using solely a $2 million federal grant. Nike’s $10 million deal also included branding rights, and Nike being Nike, there are limited-edition bike wrap designs inspired by select footwear. Portland cyclists now have the option of cruising through the city on an Air Max version. Adhesive wraps are used to reflect the color schemes and designs inspired by Air Max footwear.
And Nike is even knocking off its own idea at the company’s Beaverton, Ore., campus. Last month, the company rolled out 400 bikes for employees to use on campus.
Unlike Citibike’s bike-sharing program in New York, Portland’s Biketown uses “smart bikes with dumb stations instead of dumb bikes with smart stations.” Rivera said. Designed by Social Bicycles, a Brooklyn company, the Nike-supported bikes have eight gears, reflective features, solar panels, a GPS unit, security locks for riders’ convenience and individual baskets. Instead of relying on expensive docks and kiosks, Social Bicycles uses wireless technology and a locking system on the bike.
The company has 27 bike share programs including ones in Beverly Hills, the University of Virginia and Kraków, Poland. Biketown is operated by Motivate, the largest company managing bike share systems in the U.S. A local Portland company, Holy Spokes, operates the Biketown WHQ program.