The Ability Bike: Empowerment Through Sport and Physical Activity

Recognizing and celebrating the diverse community of Portlanders experiencing physical and cognitive differences.

Throughout 2019, we’ve been celebrating some of the diverse communities and cultures that make up the fabric of Portland through the BIKETOWN Culture Collection, which features unique, limited-edition designs. Today, we’re excited to roll out the fifth in the series: the Ability bike, which celebrates our community members who experience physical and cognitive differences.

The inspiration for the design stemmed from the many different colored ribbons that represent the diverse awareness campaigns. Together, they form a vibrant and unified graphic that reflects the energy of the community and empowerment through sport and physical activity. The Ability bike was created in collaboration with the Nike Ability & Friends Network and designed by Eileen Happer, a graphic designer at Nike and member of the network.

"As a graphic designer with Core Performance, I’m honored to create the Ability bike design,” Eileen says. “Many of my colleagues have been involved with FlyEase products, which were developed for athletes who need an easy on/off system. And I’m passionate about Ability because one of my best friends is deaf, and growing up she never let that get in the way of what she wanted to do, whether it was cheerleading, dance, track, cross-country, anything!"

Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) launched Adaptive BIKETOWN in 2017 in partnership with Albertina Kerr and Kerr Bikes, which offers programs and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health challenges. It was the first adaptive bike rental program in the country and offers people with varying abilities a mix of tandems, hand cycles and three-wheeled bicycles for rent by the hour. This program, with additional support from Nike, has been a great success and offers unique opportunities to extend the reach of the Ability bike.

“The Ability Network bicycle provides us another opportunity to celebrate the diversity of people with disabilities,” said Portland Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four people experience a physical, mental health, cognitive and/or learning disability. I want to thank Adaptive Sports NW, PHAME and Albertina Kerr for partnering with BIKETOWN on this celebration.”

As with all the Culture Collection bikes, we strive to honor and reflect our commitment to representation through the photographers documenting these projects. Sean May is a Portland-based photographer specializing in studio portraiture. He noted that he has a unique point of view from the seat of his wheelchair that he’s excited to share with us. When he’s not capturing beautiful images, he’s playing wheelchair rugby.

We’ve also had the privilege of partnering with PHAME, a local fine and performing arts academy serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, on this project. PHAME photography students will be contributing lifestyle images for BIKETOWN social channels featuring leading members of their summer theater production, “The Poet’s Shadow,” a rock opera that will premiere at the Hampton Opera Center, August 23-31.

We are thrilled to launch this bike along with Adaptive Sports Northwest today, August 6, at their popular Tuesday night PDX Handcycling Series at PIR (Portland International Raceway) from 4:45 to 6:00 pm. We hope to see some of you there!