In February 2019, Portland bike-share program Biketown debuted five new bikes featuring vibrant, multicolor and geometric designs in celebration of Black History Month. The bikes are the first in the Nike-sponsored company’s year-long Culture Collection. This initiative invites a diverse group of local Nike employees to create designs that reflect their cultures and communities, which make up the unique social fabric of the City of Roses.
The Biketown Black History Month collection
During Black History Month in February 2019, the bikes were wrapped in designs that drew inspiration from vintage posters and sociopolitical art of the 1960s and ‘70s civil rights movement. They also included elements associated with traditional African fabric designs, like the front basket’s West African kente cloth pattern. Against Biketown’s signature solid orange motif, the Black Culture Collection bikes’ modern design stood out in striking fashion.
“The Black History Month bike wrap design is an opportunity for us to reflect our city’s creativity and rich African American culture, and to highlight our commitment to celebrating a diverse and inclusive Portland,” said Nike’s Karol Collymore, Senior Manager, Global Community Impact, Oregon.
The challenge to design the African diaspora-inspired bikes was led by the Nike Black Employee and Friends network. Nike color designer Marcellus Johnson (who also worked on the color scheme and design elements for the brand’s Black History Month-inspired footwear collection) created the unique bike wraps.
“Design and the arts let us tell our stories in authentic ways,” said Johnson. “I drew from Pan-African culture and used methods of print and collage relative to our journey in a way that speaks to how we as a people can reimagine our future. Through textiles rooted in continental Africa, I wanted to create a visual that embodied a point of view about our connection and journey.”
Biketown’s celebration of Black History Month included a collectable companion book. Produced by local makers Scout Books, the book featured a map of select African American-owned business located near Biketown stations. Highlights include QTPOC (queer and trans people of color)-focused Ori Gallery and eateries like Akadi and Kee’s Loaded Kitchen. The books were available at each business on their map (see the full list online), while supplies lasted.
The Culture Collection continues
These special designs join 2018’s Design Challenge Collection, which featured community-designed patterns inspired by Portland landmarks. And more special collections will roll out throughout 2019 (including veteran-designed bikes for National Military Appreciation Month in May). No matter which bike design you get, borrowing a bike from one of Biketown’s 145 stations is the perfect way to discover the city’s many communities.