‘Nerds vs Jocks’ and more fun rivalries on the way in Bike Commute Challenge

‘Nerds vs Jocks’ and more fun rivalries on the way in Bike Commute Challenge

Fall is coming, and in Oregon, unlike in the many places that foolishly declare May to be their official bike month, that means it’s time for the annual Bike Commute Challenge.

A major annual project of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, it’s grown into one of the most popular and successful bike-to-work challenges anywhere, spawning fun rivalries like the Intel-vs-Nike matchup highlighted at right. (More on that in a moment.) In the last two years, the friendly workplace-to-workplace competition has attracted 12,000 Oregonians on about 1,400 teams logging their trips by both frequency and distance.

“Per-capita participation in our program is bigger than in any other program I’m aware of,” BTA Deputy Director Steph Noll said Wednesday.

This year, Noll’s team is making it easier for blue-collar workers to participate by offering cards with radio-frequency chips in selected workplaces.

“They’ll be able to enter a commute just by scanning a card as opposed to logging on to a computer,” Noll said. “That’ll make the whole thing more accessible if you’re not in a computer-based workplace.”

They’ve also hired coordinator Aaron Brown, a Washington County native, and looped in community outreach coordinator Elizabeth Quiroz, a Spanish speaker, to power up involvement at more suburban and East Portland employers.

Brown described the challenge as “the gamification of bike commuting,” an excuse for bike-curious workers to learn their commutes and for regular bike commuters to get support from their managers.

“The Bike Commute Challenge kind of creates the legitimacy avenues for that one bike geek in the office to say, hey, it would be really cool if we had showers,” Brown said.

Brown said 88 local bike shops are participating too, offering 10 percent discounts to challenge participants.

This morning, the Challenge scored some fun exposure when Intel’s official Twitter account sent this clever in-house concept to its 1.9 million followers:

Brown said he’d pitched some contacts at Intel’s big Hillsboro facility on an idea Noll often likes to emphasize to participants: It’s easy for any workplace, team or group of friends to use the “league” system on the BCC website to pit themselves against any other set of teams.

“I was thinking they would challenge one building versus another,” Brown said. “They were like, ‘No man, we’ve got to go after Nike.'”

We’re eager to see if the celebrated marketing team at Beaverton-based Nike will have the guts to respond.

You can sign up for the challenge electronically, join a team or become the first member of a new team at BikeCommuteChallenge.com.

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