Bike New York (BNY) is a nonprofit on a mission to transform New York City through cycling. Riding a bike is a simple solution to many complex problems for New Yorkers: it’s more sustainable, more equitable, and more community-based than cars will ever be. Cycling in the city allows freedom of movement, especially in areas where the subways don’t reach.
For 45 years, Bike New York has run the largest free bike education program in the country for kids and adults. In 2020 alone, they taught bike skills to 30,000+ New Yorkers and salvaged 1,800 bikes through their Recycle-a-Bicycle program. These programs make biking more accessible.
To fund their work, they host the annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour where, for one day, 40 miles of city streets shut down to cars so cyclists can take over the city. Thousands of cyclists flood the streets in every borough, starting in Manhattan and ending in a festival on Staten Island.
Despite the Bike Boom during the pandemic, ridership in the Tour had fallen. In 2021, we had to change that.
Raise awareness for the social impact of the Tour
Sell out tickets for the Tour
Increase diversity of the Tour by reaching Bike Boom cyclists: young, socially-conscious cyclists who know the challenges of riding in the city and would likely continue to support BNY beyond the Tour. They would offset many of the veteran, majority male, cyclists who were aging out of the Tour.
Our first challenge was messaging. Communicating the social impact of the ride, the epically fun challenge of riding 40 car-free miles, and New York pride all in one, concise piece of memorable creative was a tall order.
Our second challenge was that awareness for Bike New York’s connection with the TD Five Boro Bike Tour was low. Nearly all social mentions of the Tour in past years didn’t mention BNY at all. Encouraging an entirely new audience to commit to a ride with an organization they have never heard of would be tricky. To reach our target demo, we had to get creative with placements of this campaign.
Own These Streets: Our campaign concept had a strong POV and New York attitude that was reflected in every touchpoint: from headlines, to social posts, to registration reminder emails. Our campaign tapped into the real world of local cyclists - most days you’re weaving through obstructed bike lanes, dodging drifting tourists, and *this* close to getting doored - but not on May 1st with Bike New York’s TD Five Boro Bike Tour. With this creative direction, we were celebrating car-free streets while reminding registrants that by securing their spot, they could transform this city through cycling alongside BNY. Creative executions used bold, succinct headlines, and featured real riders of the Tour to quickly connect with busy New Yorkers and riders of all stripes.
To reach local Bike Boom cyclists who were out riding city streets, we ran out-of-home ads on popular cycling and subway routes throughout the city, retargeted with direct response ads and influencer marketing on social media.
Out-of-home placements with tracked, scannable QR codes:
Taxi Toppers: 1st, 2nd, and 8th Aves below 50th street, as well as large portions of NW Brooklyn.
30 Link NYC screens were strategically selected for their close proximity to the highest-traffic Citi Bike stations in NYC as reported by Lyft.
Subway cars: Previous years leveraged eye-level, vertical print ads in subway cars, but we switched our approach to overhead ads for higher visibility.
Targeted social media:
We reinforced the large, citywide out-of-home awareness campaign with direct response remarketing efforts on Facebook and Instagram, targeting users who had visited the BNY website after seeing an OOH advertisement for the tour.
Eben Weiss, AKA Bike Snob NYC, partnered with videographer Terry Barentsten to create a custom, 4-minute video highlighting the beauty of NYC and the benefits of the Tour. The video was promoted on Bike Snob’s Twitter account, followed by 53K+ local cycling enthusiasts.
For the first time in several years, we were able to sell out the TD Five Boro Bike Tour for Bike New York with over 30,000 registrations.
Tour sell-out: 30,477 registrations
Engaged young riders: 70% of riders were Millennial & Gen X
Increased women ridership: 37% of riders were women (up 5% from the year before).
Raised awareness of Bike New York’s mission and work:
The campaign earned over 20M estimated impressions. Thanks to negotiating additional donated placements with OOH vendors, we were able to garner over 10x the proposed impression volume. This built a groundswell of local awareness with cyclists and gave us a larger audience to target on social media.
Social conversation of BNY and the Tour: 4,700 social mentions of Bike New York throughout the flight of the campaign
Niche influencer marketing: 19,500 video views from Bike Snob, 100+ positive video comments on YouTube
Positive social impact:
With support from Tour registrations, BNY will be able to continue their local bike education programs that thousands of New Yorkers depend on.
As more cyclists ride in the city, they gain more than just another way to get around. They gain camaraderie with other cyclists, a new perspective for their city, and ultimately, independence. By giving cyclists the confidence to ride with their bike education program and access to affordable, refurbished bikes through their Recycle-a-Bicycle program, BNY will have a positive impact on the city for years to come.