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Biketown launches ‘Design Challenge’ to flood streets with art on wheels

Posted by on February 14th, 2018 at 7:30 am

They do it for shoes; why not do it for bike share bikes?

Portland’s Nike-sponsored Biketown bike share system has just launched a promotion that will result in a new collection of specially wrapped bikes. The Biketown Design Challenge invites everyone who lives in Oregon to go beyond the bright orange colorway and dream up a creative color scheme and design. Five winners will be selected for the designs that best represent each of Portland’s five quadrants — Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest, and North.

“The design challenge will highlight not only Portlander’s love for BIKETOWN,” reads an official statement about the contest, “but also its artistic, creative and innovative culture.” Each entry should reflect the individual’s personal spin on what makes their chosen quadrant unique.”

Mark Parker, Nike’s Chairman, President and CEO, says the contest is, “a celebration of Biketown and the community that’s embraced it.”


Submissions are due by March 7th and 50 finalists (10 from each quadrant) will be chosen by a panel that includes: Mark Parker; Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler; William Rihel of the Regional Arts and Culture Council; Joy Alise Davis, Design+Culture Lab LLC founder; Victoria Frey, Executive Director of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA); Don Tuski, President of Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA); and Elizabeth Leach of the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.

The finalists will then be voted on by the public beginning April 14th. The five winning designs will be announced in May and each of the them will end up being wrapped onto 10 bikes. The 50 Design Challenge bikes will debut in their respective quadrants starting in May. These new bikes will be added to the fleet of 1,000 Biketown bikes that already feature custom “sneaker bikes” and rainbow-infused “BeTrue” bikes that were launched last summer as part of Pride Week.

Sharpen your pencils and get over to the official Biketown Design Challenge website for all the details.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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Scott Mizéefred ihleJ.E.CaptainKarmaSilkySlim Recent comment authors
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There’s art, and then there’s creativity sucked through the meat grinder of corporate advertising.


I’m a fan of BIketown, but I loathe when ridiculously wealthy corporations use contests to squeeze free work out of artists. Especially when many artists can barely scrape by in this city.

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley

No mention of cash prizes for winners? You’d think Nike could set aside a small amount of its obscenely huge tax cut to reward the artists’ time to do this.


On a side note I’m pretty happy to get a few more in the fleet that aren’t orange. I know shouldn’t care about being judged but in my head I feel everyone staring (and saying “you tourist!” with a menacing tone).

fred ihle
fred ihle

Design work for spec’… if I’m not mistaken, Nike’s CEO came up through design, i’m surprised this is signed off on.

I have an idea: I need some plumbing work done for my business venture, my airbnb. But, I really don’t feel like paying for it. I think I’ll arrange a contest and have four different plumbers each do the work, then my family and I will vote on the job we think is done best, and instead of paying them for their work, i’ll let them put their sticker on my toilet so that my patrons see their name each time they use the john. All the hype surrounding this event will drive more attention and therefore business my way, but hey I was fair to the plumber, right?

Scott Mizée

So I’m the only one who wants to whine about feeling disenfranchised that the 5th Quadrant was left out of that screenshot above? No love for North. 😛