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Nike bought Portland a $10 million bike share program

Nike bought Portland a $10 million bike share program


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Portland's status as a bike friendly town is hardly in dispute. Just look at the city's No. 4 ranking in Bicycling magazine's top 50 favorite towns, or at Fred Armisen's aggressive, whistle-blowing cyclist in Portlandia ("Bicycle rights!"). This summer, Portland is getting a new addition to its bike infrastructure, and in a familiar shade of orange, too. Nike, which has been based in the Portland area for over 40 years, is buying the city a $10 million bike share program, unsubtly called "Biketown."

Portland's city council originally authorized a system of 600 bikes, but with Nike's sponsorship it will grow to 1,000, officials say. The bike is Nike-orange, with a front basket shaped like the company's shoebox and emblazoned with the familiar swoop logo.

No docks, no kiosks

The Northwest's newest bike share system will have a distinctly East Coast flavor. Motivate, the company that will operate the program, is based in New York City. And the bikes will be built by Social Bicycle, a Brooklyn manufacturer, which claims that its bikes eschew expensive docks and kiosks by incorporating communications and locking mechanisms within the bike itself.

City officials love bike share programs because they promote wellness while also offering new ways for both residents and tourists to get around town. And corporations love them because they offer exclusive branding rights as well as opportunities to contribute to a city's transportation network.

Even when they break down, just as New York City's Citi Bike program did frequently at first, bike share programs have proven to be pretty popular across the board, which helps explain their rapid growth in the US over the last few years: over 60 US cities and 500 cities worldwide now have them.