If you’ve been to New York City recently you may have noticed Citibike, the super popular bike sharing program with 10,000 bikes on seemingly every corner. It’s run by Alta Bike Share who operates and manages 6 other networks in the country including one in my “city of big shoulders” called Divvy. I was approached by the deputy general manager of Divvy, Elliot Greenberger to make images for their website and promote the system. The naming, logo and brand strategy had already been developed in a collaboration between Firebelly and Ideo, though photography of riders had not been created.
Those who know me well know that I will always be a bike guy. I’m not a collector like some who have a different color for every mood – more of a connoisseur of the machine. Beginning at the age of 13, I would drool over the last Italian bicycle parts catalogue or cycling magazine then go race on Sundays. Being on the cusp of adolescence I didn’t recognize what I was feeling – the sex appeal of bikes. Something about the circular pumping, the smooth curves, the tight…ahem! To me, bikes are as cool as ever -the sight of carbon fiber wheels can make me deeply aroused. But with decades more experience I also believe that bikes can be part of a sustainable urban fabric.
We figured true “bike people” needed no convincing. A graphics only website already had them happily signing up, though many non-bike folks would need more inspiration. The goal of making pictures was to show that bike-share safely fits among our other urban transportation options like walking, taking a taxi, public transportation, and that its fun.
It was a relatively tidy project with minimal resources so I’d have to keep it simple. I met a handful of friends – experienced cyclists – on a median in the middle of State Street. and gave them each a blue Divvy bike. They’d lap around me at the locations I scouted earlier and I’d shoot as the afternoon sun coursed between buildings. Although Divvy IS for everyone, choosing to work with only experienced cyclists put my mind at ease as we had to break some teency-weency traffic rules to shoot in live rush hour. As I shot my own riders, many Divvy riders rolled by mugged for a piece of attention. In fact I planned for this and made a sign to salute them.
I wanted show the bikes integrated with the rhythm of the city and and only directed my cyclists to ride past me, alone or in groups, slow down, or…ride the bike like a sleigh! A couple hours later and several miles logged, we had it in the can and my riders spun off on their Divvy bikes for beers. I went to my studio to edit.
What made me proud to work with Divvy is that I got a chance to sell something I really believe in. The opportunity to promote an idea that can make people happier, healthier and more self sufficient is something I’ll go out of my way for.