When the slick orange Nike bikes hit Portland this summer, they were greeted with skepticism from some quarters.
The bikes seemed to have everything; their own app, locking stations, distance tracker, sweet design. But they were criticized for missing something major: helmets.
Now, a group of cyclists are starting a petition to urge Nike to bring helmets to BikeTown. They put up the petition just yesterday, and it's already received hundreds of names.
"I'm a big advocate of cycling and while I love bike share programs like BikeTown, once thing that I'm noticing on the roads is the vast majority of the people that I see on Biketown bikes aren't wearing helmets," the man spearheading the petition told WW. (He spoke on condition of anonymity, as he'll be illegally placing stickers advertising the petition on BikeTown stations.)
He created a site, where you can pledge your support to encourage Nike to provide helmets to riders by sharing the petition on Facebook, leaving your first and last name or Snapchatting an image.
"Don't get us wrong, BIKETOWN is a great bike share program in PDX.," the site reads. "Unfortunately, unlike other bike share programs, BIKETOWN doesn't provide a life-saving accessory to their riders. Helmets."
In addition to the online campaign, the group is also placing stickers right next to where you enter your code to rent a bike with the Snapchat code on it, making it easy to send the snap and pledge support.
When WW spoke with Portland Department of Transportation director Leah Treat, she defended BikeTown's decision to not include helmets.
"Seattle tried a helmet vending option. They're the only city I'm aware of, but I don't think it's gone very well, which is why other people haven't adopted it. There are issues with hygiene. There has to be a means in place to get those helmets sanitized and back into the system," she said.
But the petition organizers believes it's worth it for Nike, "a smart enough company" to take the time to come up with a creative solution.
"Years ago, I was hit by a garbage truck while riding my bike and a helmet saved my life," he says. "There are other bike share programs that offer helmets to their customers. It's something that's possible and it sounds like it is something that is an added expense, but as far as I'm concerned, I think the added expense for the city and Nike is worth it."
He also says that it's particularly important for BikeTown to have helmets because many of the people using them are tourists.
"A lot of these people that are on these bikes just aren't people that are normally biking around city streets," he says. "There's people at happy hour that have had a few drinks, thinking we'll take this around without a helmet."
Eventually, the group plans to present the petition to Nike.