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BTA rolls out new logo

Posted by on July 7th, 2011 at 10:34 am

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), Oregon’s largest bike advocacy group, is refining their identity and brand. One of the first pieces of that process is a new logo…

Old logo on the left.

BTA Communications Director Margaux Mennesson says they’ve been working with North, a local brand strategy company, for the past several months to “clarify the BTA’s identity and brand essence.” More aspects of this effort will emerge over the next month, Mennesson says, with a formal unveiling set for their Annual Meeting on August 10th (a new website is in the works too).

BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky says the design elements in the new logo were driven by the new branding effort. Sadowsky calls the logo an evolution of the old one…

“The grey interior represents a road with a bicycle lane. The orange represents both the classic transportation orange and a reference to our work to improve safety. We have complementary colors that both highlight safety and take us into other areas.”

The BTA’s branding and identity revamp are part of a larger strategic planning effort. Stay tuned for more about that and the other big changes going on at the BTA.

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  • paul July 7, 2011 at 10:48 am

    hmmm… No sir, I don’t like it.

    Is that the bike lane on the top of the logo? Not very compelling. And I don’t know if it’s my color settings or what but the “safety orange” they are referring to seems more like tangerine to me. I guess it’s alright but and I suppose it’ll grow on me. It’d probably look pretty cool on a jersey of similar colors…

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  • OnTheRoad July 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I hope they didn’t pay much for this.

    If you have to explain a logo, it is not a good logo.

    And if it doesn’t make sense even after it’s explained – Fail.

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    • Mike July 7, 2011 at 11:19 am

      Agreed. This looks as tough very little thought was put into it, which I am sure was not the case.

      Really too bad. Portland has so much creative talent to pull from, and this is what is chosen.

      I don’t see how this helps to “clarify the BTA’s identity and brand essence.”

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  • Dave Thomson July 7, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I’m a supporter of the BTA, but if they hadn’t put the word “bicycle” in there you would have no idea what BTA was about. Definitely a step backward from the old logo.

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  • Editz July 7, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I dare someone to send it to Brand New so the pros can dissect it.

    http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/

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    • John Lascurettes July 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

      It would be summarily trashed. I can see moving away from a bicycle wheel for a logo, but the execution of the new one is horrid; from its use poor use of font choice (and abysmal kerning) and it’s nearly unreadable letter contrast. Just. Bad. Really bad.

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  • Scott Mizée July 7, 2011 at 11:24 am

    soooo…. I just got my reflective stickers in the mail. Does that mean I’ll get some new ones to stay current with the branding? ;)

    I’ve never been a fan of the spokes in the old logo, but I agree with some of the commenters above. I’d be curious to see the other options that were rejected to pick this one.

    Kind of reminds me of what happened when Connecting Green changed to “The Intertwine” People often have negative reactions when a change like this is introduced–sometimes these reactions are justified and other times not.

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    • Scott Mizée July 7, 2011 at 11:27 am

      the two lines that are supposed to be representative of a bike lane do not communicate that idea at all–even after it is explained.

      I’m the first to admit that it is easy to be a critic and hard to create a good design, but I’m really having a hard time understanding why this design was chosen. Would the folks at North care to elaborate?

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      • OnTheRoad July 7, 2011 at 11:39 am

        If the two lines at the top are the bike lane, what is the empty space at the bottom? If the bike lane is at the bottom, what are the two lines — the center line of the road?

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        • Elliot July 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

          Ha, that’s what I wondered too. Maybe it’s a sidewalk – a token nod to the WPC?

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        • KJ July 8, 2011 at 1:07 am

          that space drives my aesthetic meter nuts. it’s so.. jarring….

          sorry BTA it looks really cheep =(

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  • BURR July 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

    should have left well enough alone

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    • beth h July 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      Agreed.
      I’ll miss the spokes.
      ..::snif::..

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  • Case July 7, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Directionless, similar to my perception of the BTA’s advocacy as of late.

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  • Jim Lee July 7, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Any outfit obsessed with “brand essence” is fundamentally irrelevant.

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  • Elliot July 7, 2011 at 11:43 am

    The “bike lane” wasn’t clear to me at all – just looks like a couple white lines. Since there’s only one bike lane and no centerline stripe in the “road”, you have to guess we’re looking at a one-way road. In that case, you intuitively assume it would be set up to show traffic traveling left-to-right. So, we’re looking at a left-aligned bike lane? Confusing. If the “bike lane” was on the bottom, it might read slightly better, but still wouldn’t be very compelling to me. Bike lanes are so 2000s! We have cycle tracks now.

    If the top stripes are a bike lane, what’s with the white space on the bottom? A sidewalk?

    The old spoke/wheel motif was a little too obvious, perhaps even corny… but at least it was identifiable.

    The slight curvature of the BTA letters, combined with the edge of the B touching the left side of the circle, makes it feel unbalanced. But that does make me look at it a little longer to try and figure out what’s going on, so maybe that was purposeful.

    The colors are fine, definitely an improvement over the old-school, 90′s teal.

    I’m not really concerned about any implications about the role/identity of the BTA – it’s just a logo, after all – but the design is interesting to think about.

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  • rootbeerguy July 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    i wonder if it would look better with the chainring-shaped on the outer circle… just a thought…

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  • captainkarma July 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Wondered what they’ve been up to lately…

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  • Mindful Cyclist July 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    “The grey interior represents a road with a bicycle lane.”

    I just looked out my window at work. There is a bike lane there, but the road did not get painted gray.

    And, as far as safety goes, doesn’t yellow seem to be much more common in the cycling world?

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  • Spiffy July 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    horrible…

    BICYCLE
    BTA
    TRANSPORTATION
    ALLIANCE

    that’s how it reads to me… it’s easier to read if the name is separate from the acronym like it was in the old logo…

    they took out the spokes and left nothing to identify it as a bicycle logo… bike lane? puh-lease! it’s a couple white stripes to distract you from the rest of the horrible design… they could have at least put one of those bicycle stencil symbols in there so it looked like a bike lane… or even an arrow with “BIKE” written sideways… nobody looking at this logo with think that’s a bike lane… likely because there are no other stripes on their “road”…

    and what’s with the convex design of “BTA”? they trying to make it pop out?

    one thing for sure, it doesn’t clarify their identity…

    seems like a waste… they should have just solicited logo ideas from the bicycle community and they would have saved a lot of money…

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  • anonymous July 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Massive Fail.
    Meaningless and empty graphic designed to water down any potential anti-bike bias (by removing any and all obvious visual references to bicycles).
    Brilliant stroke of whateverness.

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    • ADJPDX July 8, 2011 at 8:37 am

      Spot on analysis. If that agency spent 15 minutes on the logo design, I would be surprised.

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  • ANONYMOUS July 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    At first glance I thought it *could* be the sidewall of a tire, but I def don’t see a bike lane or a road. I also agree with the other posters that the color contrast makes it difficult to read and the BTA lettering distortion makes it look oddly skewed. I reminds me a bit of a retro sports team logo..

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  • Psyfalcon July 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    I like orange.

    Still, orange does not belong on big bulbous letters. The “B” looks like a mangled pumpkin.

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  • Nick V July 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    My first comment was apparently erased because I put in a cheap plug for my own graphic design services. I hate to add to the negativity, but the new logo looks forced and thrown together at the last minute. Everyone has their own opinion and they’re entitled to it, of course, but I wish I had known that the BTA wanted a new logo. I’d have given them some options to use for free.

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  • Bill Stites July 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Kinda hoping someone will chime in with a positive comment and say why they like it … cause it won’t be me.
    I highly prefer the original, and not just cause we’re used to it.

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  • Mark Ray July 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Scott Mizée
    . Would the folks at North care to elaborate?

    Happy to. Our goal for the redesign was twofold – to communicate a strong, unified and forward-looking vision for BTA, and for maximum impact and clarity in use on fender stickers, bags, shirts, etc.

    We did not think it was necessary to continue using literal references to biking in the logo itself, because the words are there to explain the organization, and there’s already plenty of awareness of BTA. Though it was nice of Rob to mention the bike lane rationale behind the graphic at top, we never envisioned it as something that would be overtly evident, just nice subtext for the strong, direct graphic approach.

    All that said, we really appreciate any feedback, good and critical, in our collaboriations with BTA. We believe strongly in their purpose and vision and want to do right by them. We hope you’ll reserve some judgement as you see the logo(s) being applied throughout the entire identity system over the coming months.

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    • Scott Mizée July 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks Mark. That helps clarify a few things.

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    • Rol July 8, 2011 at 3:46 am

      If the words are there to explain it, and there’s already plenty of awareness of BTA, why even have a logo at all? I mean isn’t the purpose of a logo partly to communicate non-verbally (i.e. graphically) and partly to increase awareness?

      Also, far from presenting a strong and unified vision, this logo has several distracting elements that clutter it. It seems clear someone (or more like too many someones) over-thought it, and the result is uninspiring.

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    • drew woods July 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      what’s up with the horrible letter spacing in the BTA section? it seems really off to me. it looks like the convex distortion was applied with its center in the wrong place.

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  • Daniel Ronan July 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Not to add to the fire, but why is orange being used for the purposes of safety? This color is meant to promote caution, not a fun and adventurous attitude that bicycling brings. The logo and its defining concepts, to me, seem reactionary.

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  • peejay July 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Hate to pile on, but I can’t help myself. There’s literally nothing right about the logo except that there are no typos. Why are the words not all the same point size? What is the purpose of the curve? Nothing makes sense at all. This is on par with the Gap redesign from last year, or the brain-dead AOL rebranding. Ugh.

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    • pam July 11, 2011 at 8:06 am

      I kept looking at the new logo trying to figure out if there is a curve, or is it just an optical illusion. Thanks for confirming it’s not just me.

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  • Liz July 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Not an improvement. What on earth was even wrong with the old logo??

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  • wsbob July 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    The new logo is an improvement over the old one. The initials ‘BTA’ are spaced better. A result of this,with the slight arc of the three letters, is, they look muscular. Looks more ‘New York’ like than Portland or Oregon, but that’s o.k. .

    The way in which ‘Bicycle’ and ‘Transportation’ are laid into the design, makes those two words and the meaning they connote, readily apparent upon seeing the logo. As it should, ‘Alliance’ underscores ‘Bicycle’, ‘Transportation, and ‘BTA’. I do like the blue of the old design, but orange ain’t bad.

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  • Steve Durrant @ Alta July 7, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I like the little auto lane at the top with the rest of the street for people.

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  • Chris July 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Why not hold a BTA logo design contest.

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    • Gabriel Amadeus July 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

      Man, then it would really be a shit-storm!

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    • beth h July 8, 2011 at 8:35 am

      Once upon a time ODOT held a contest to redesign Oregon’s [automobile] license plate. After sifting through thousands of entries ODOT finally settled upon one supplied by a professional graphic designer.

      Not sure the outcome would’ve been any different this time around — except perhaps that many more graphic designers (and other creatives) live here now.

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  • bumblebee July 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I know from first-hand experience how challenging it is to design a good logo; that being said, I’m baffled over how this latest “evolution” qualifies as an improvement. It screams “amateur.”

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  • Tonya July 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I like it. I think the slight arc in BTA looks a little weird, but otherwise striking. Got everyone’s attention for sure! :)

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  • f July 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Everything is so wrong about that logo. Except the fact that I keep looking at it to find more things wrong with it.

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  • Alan 1.0 July 7, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Hopefully the new logo is not begging the question, but what is BTA’s stance regarding the mandatory sidepath law? (ORS 814.420)

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  • Schrauf July 7, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    It seems retro or vintage. The paleness of the colors, and especially the font. Vintage is not bad. I’m sure it will grow on me.

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  • Gabriel Amadeus July 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Hmm, North usually packs a punch, but I have to agree with some of these sentiments. While the old logo was a pretty bleh, this fella is off the mark.

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  • jim July 7, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    This is very plain looking. I would expect much more from Portland than just trying to merely rework an old logo. Why not make this a contest? There are so many talented artists out there, I think we could do so much better and have some fun with it at the same time. If they did pay some freind some money for this, I would just call it a wash and start over.

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    • Nick V July 8, 2011 at 9:49 am

      “Contests” are normally frowned upon because they essentially mean that whoever starts them is getting free work from a whole lot of people and then, maybe, rewarding only one. In this case, I would have been glad to donate some time. The publicity that it gets at this site alone would do many artists good!

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  • matthew vilhauer July 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    if were to grade this on a pass fail grading scale it would fail. okay… it would fail if graded on a curve as well.

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  • Al from PA July 8, 2011 at 4:39 am

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    A foretaste of BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky’s brilliance?

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    • kittens July 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      the old one was broken. it doesn’t translate well to multiple formats legibly. Unfortunately, neither does this one.

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  • Rachel.db July 8, 2011 at 7:44 am

    The arc of the letters “BTA” make it look like they are melting.

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  • AllenInk July 8, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Re: Mark/North … this is a very confused marketing assumption: “and there’s already plenty of awareness of BTA.” Really? What about all the NEW people moving to Portland every day? What about increasing awareness to those who have glazed over it? AND … why … if there’s plenty of awareness do you need to cram the entire name of the organization in? That seems like a contradicting statement. Also … did you just use the phrase “identity system?”

    My assessment is … too much thinking went into this and not enough design.

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  • beth h July 8, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Just out of curiosity — how much does a new logo design cost these days?

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  • Ethan July 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I can see the utility this logo would have that the more complex (old) logo did not. I like where the type is headed. I agree about the kerning, and the ever so slight arc to “BTA” gives me pause too. I disagree with the idea that the symbolism must be immediately obvious (what the heck does a Nike swoosh signify exactly?) but I agree that a bike advocacy org might want something that clearly ties the mark to cycling at a glance.

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  • Ryan July 8, 2011 at 10:22 am

    The assumption that there is already plenty of awareness of the BTA is, in my experience, only true within the bicycle community. My non-cyclist friends and coworkers don’t know the BTA from the PTA. Even if that weren’t the case, what’s wrong with having something clearly bicycle-themed? I don’t hear beer companies saying, “Well, we don’t need anything beer-themed in our ads because everyone knows we make beer.”

    Sorry to be a naysayer, but I think this new logo is terribly boring and non-descript. I much, much prefer the old one, and not because I don’t like change, I just don’t think this is a good change.

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  • Dave Cary July 8, 2011 at 11:45 am

    That’s an arc for the letters “BTA?” I thought it was melting or just sloppy placement. And the color contrast is about as exciting as milk toast. Is it too late to send it back for a little (or lots of) rework? And what’s wrong with inviting ideas before a decision has been made? Obviously you’re going to get them anyway.

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  • Tall Steve July 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Yeah, I’m disappointed too. The way the words are arranged on the logo, it seems like the “strong, unified and forward-looking vision for BTA” is that “BTA” is an obstacle between “Bicycle” and “Transportation”. Was that the intended message?

    Maybe the BTA should partner with Times Up and use their logo. Or how ’bout a sharrow with “BTA” added? Perhaps something with a human figure since roads are for people? At least replace that vague gray area with a section of Portland’s bike map.

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  • OnTheRoad July 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Tall Steve
    …”BTA” is an obstacle between “Bicycle” and “Transportation”. Was that the intended message?

    Oh, Snap.

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  • kittens July 8, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I agree with everyone else. Bad. There are so many awesome directions to go with abstract bike shapes and parts. This looks like something from 1995.

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    • wsbob July 8, 2011 at 10:01 pm

      What is it that people objecting to this design, are expecting the BTA to have for a logo? Something more sophisticated? Arty? Intellectual?

      I think I understand correctly that the BTA at least had it’s origins in a ‘grass roots’ support for improvements transportation that supported bike use. Is the BTA still a grass roots organization, and does it consider itself so? If so, aren’t simple, direct logos like this one, are supposed to convey that idea to people seeing it?

      No doubt, people can come up with very slick, cool, clever logo designs, but if the designs don’t accurately reflect the identity and intentions of the organization the logo is being used to represent, that’s not good.

      Maybe the BTA should knock out some trial T-Shirts or bike jersey’s…on white…or a shade of blue…with the new design on it. Let some people wear them around and gauge the reaction to them in that way.

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      • kittens July 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm

        Because the BTA literally represents the bike activist community (somewhat) we take this perhaps a little too personally. Logos are powerful things. And when done right, are metaphors of the direction and essence of the organization. Also important consider as a visual statement people might want to put on their car or bike. Like the “Keep Tahoe Blue” or the Human Rights Campaign equal sign or even the University of Oregon O stickers. I can’t see this BTA thing getting any traction. This is just so bland and amateurish, I expect better.

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        • wsbob July 11, 2011 at 8:52 am

          Kittens…I see those points you’ve raised. Still, it’s not clear to me what critics of this design expect the BTA to conceive of for its logo, in part, because they haven’t particularly described what they’re looking for.

          There’s certainly no end of slick, corporate, power implying type logos around. I imagine lots of people would like BTA to be more powerful than it perhaps is, but it probably wouldn’t be smart to go with such a logo for what I believe is still thought of as a grass-roots organization.

          The proposed logo design isn’t something I’d say is beautiful, but it’s simpler and more effectively conveys its message than did the former, spoked version. It’s somehow more approachable. If people aren’t liking this logo design, they need to tell the BTA more specifically what they expect in a different version, rather than just leaving the organization hanging with a bunch of formless complaints about the logo.

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          • anonymous July 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm

            “It’s somehow more approachable.”

            For whom? Bicycle activists? or automobile drivers who’d rather not have to confront a logo that reminds them of bikes?

            There’s playing it safe — something the BTA has been accused of in the past — and then there’s going back into the closet, which seems to be where the BTA is headed nowadays.

            Ick.

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          • wsbob July 12, 2011 at 12:12 am

            “It’s somehow more approachable.” wsbob

            “For whom? Bicycle activists? or automobile drivers who’d rather not have to confront a logo that reminds them of bikes? …” anonymous

            Sorry for not saying: the general public. Why would this logo design proposal not remind people that see it, of bikes?; It says ‘bicycle’, right on the logo.

            You didn’t offer any specific ideas about what you would like the BTA to have offered in the way of a logo design. Do you want a logo design in the shape of a bicycle? Or…something else?

            I’ll admit that I’m not much familiar with how lobbying works, or how aggressive BTA has been of late, in promoting improvements in road infrastructure for bike travel.

            The highly contested ideas of Rep. Mitch Greenlick (Greenlick, apparently more or less out of the blue…had an idea to improve bike trailer safety; most people responding to bikeportland stories about the idea didn’t like his idea.) that some time back, sprung up here in bikeportland, had me wondering if the BTA had ever so much as contacted Greenlick, before….he introduced his idea for what was an extreme bill proposal…about ideas to improve road conditions for bike use.

            Greenlick is local…think it’s Cedar Mills where he lives. Haven’t met Greenlick, but someone I’m inclined to think is a reliable source, tells me Greenlick “…has strong opinions, but listens.”. If he listens to the BTA…whether or not he likes it, I’d like to think the organization has the moxie to run ideas past him…that he in turn might consider working on with the organization to craft into bill proposals, thus actually getting something constructive done, and avoiding the boondoggle that Greenlick seemed to more or less bring about on his own with his bill proposal.

            Guess I’ll have to go to BTA’s website and see if there’s any info there about what efforts they’re making towards legislative action, because the organization certainly doesn’t seem to have been in the news much lately.

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          • Gerik July 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm

            wsbob, in response to your questions from July 12, 2011 at 12:12 am about BTA’s working relationship with Rep. Grenlick here is a refresher: http://www.bta4bikes.org/btablog/2011/01/13/for-kids-and-families-focus-on-mobility-and-safety/

            And if you are curious about our work in the 2011 Legislature more broadly: http://www.bta4bikes.org/btablog/2011/06/15/three-wins-for-transportation-partners-at-the-oregon-state-legislature/

            All decidedly more important than the color or kerning of our new logo, in my opinion.

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        • wsbob July 12, 2011 at 10:32 pm

          “wsbob, in response to your questions from July 12, 2011 at 12:12 am about BTA’s working relationship with Rep. Grenlick…” Gerik

          Gerik…I appreciate your posting the refresher. Not sure I’d previously read your piece on the BTA’s blog. Re; Greenlick, what you’ve written about the BTA’s relationship with him is brief. Seems to say: Until Rep Greenlick calls us, the BTA is not calling him. Seriously?

          Doesn’t sound very proactive, but maybe the BTA is thinking he and…maybe other legislators as well, would just turn the organizations uninvited suggestions down, so might as well save time and energy… . I hope that’s not true, because it seems to me that the people serving as legislators really would benefit from listening closely to rational, well formulated suggestions for law proposals from both citizens and organizations. I want to respect and appreciate Greenlick’s willingness to serve the public…and I do, to a certain limit. It seems to me that he sorely needed some help on the bike trailer bill, and could probably have got so much more done with it, if he’d just run the bill proposal past a few more ordinary folks, or groups like the BTA…before throwing it into the media fan.

          I did have some knowledge of two of the three pedestrian and vulnerable road user supportive bills the legislature passed. Didn’t know about SB 415 allowing police a looser distinction in determining the possibility that the vulnerable road user law has been violated. That bill sounds potentially good. We’ll see how it works in practice.

          The brouhaha here, over the BTA’s proposed logo is intriguing. What do people want? They’ve got an opportunity to say…right here in comments to this story, but they don’t say. I’d like to see this logo on some nice fitting T-shirts or jerseys. Got a feeling the dimension will have it looking just great. I’d rather not be accused of being sexist, so I’ll just say I can think of some fit people that logo would look superb on.

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  • Brad Ross July 8, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Does this mean that all of the BTA signage that I personally paid for in 2010 is obsolete? Wish I’d have known.

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    • are July 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm

      that’s right, it is no longer called BTA and you are forbidden to display the former logo

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  • BEN July 9, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    BTA! Why!? You are too good for this logo. Please reconsider. This is aesthetically a nightmare. The kerning is off, the colors are dull, and it looks rudimentary. There are so many awesome designers in Portland, I’m sure someone would happily redesign this logo.

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  • kit July 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I am a graphic designer and this is not valid logo update. Sorry BTA, but it looks like a student did it. The old one was just fine.You could finesse it for an update or tap into the wealth of design talent here in Portland for a complete revamp. side note: I do love the response to this, showing how the general public reacts to design…and just when we thought you all didn’t care.

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  • anonymous July 13, 2011 at 11:00 am

    As of today (7/13), the BTA hasn’t yet updated their logo in their web site header or at their blog header. Perhaps they’re waiting for more comments?

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  • Ed H. April 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Yeah, I’m posting 9 months later. I’m about to get a new bike, and would like to have an OLD BTA-logo sticker on it. Anyone have one of the old logo stickers lying around they’re willing to part with?

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