One of the things we love about making bike racks, street furniture and other public amenities is how they can transform streetscapes, letting people know that this is a destination, not just a thruway. And one of the best examples of it just hit the streets of Portland, in the form of a new bikeshare system called “Biketown”.
The bikes and the racks that make up the Biketown system aren’t just reliable and well-designed; they’re also orange. Bright, eye-catching, unignorable orange. The bold color (and the odd name) both stem from the fact that Nike (Oregon’s most famous company) kicked in several million dollars to make it happen. And no, in case you’re wondering, it’s not pronounced “Bikey-town” -- though plenty of us call it that anyway.
Regardless of how you say it, the system’s impossible to miss. Driving through the city’s downtown or east side, chances are good that you’ll catch a glimpse of orange every minute or two, and the overall effect is powerful. Portland’s got plenty of bike infrastructure, of course, but if you’re not riding a bike, it’s easy to ignore. A 60-foot long row of bright orange fins, on the other hand, is a quietly exuberant reminder that bikes are part of what makes the city – as ordinary and indispensable as bus stops, storefronts and parking lots.
It’s exciting because it means that everyone who travels through the city must, sooner or later, acknowledge the existence of biking here, not as a temporary anomaly, but a permanent fixture. It’s the sort of subtle shift in perception that organized rides and awareness campaigns try to engineer, but rarely succeed at. A similar shift happened when NYC’s Citibike program launched, helping to shepherd along a citywide embrace of bikes, bike lanes and bike commuting that eventually earned it the title of Best Cycling City in the US.
Now, Huntco didn’t make these racks, but we love them just the same. They’re elegant, they’re sturdy, they look great. And more important, they make the city better for everyone.