Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Need for Bike Racks + Artists = Opportunity?

This piece in the Chicago Sun Times tells of Chicago's push to solve bike storage problems throughout the city.
"The $1.15 billion deal that privatized Chicago parking meters — and the subsequent switch to pay-and-display boxes — cost bicycle riders thousands of parking spaces. They used to hitch their wheels to meters. Now, they can’t.

The shortage of spaces is about to become a boon for local artists.

The City Council’s Transportation Committee on Monday authorized an innovative public art program that could someday rival the wildly-popular Cows on Parade.

Artists will be asked to design decorative bike racks that double as pieces of public art wherever chambers of commerce, neighborhood groups or a so-called “special services area” bankrolled by local businesses comes up with the money to pay for them."
The article goes on to state that 43rd Ward Alderman, Vi Daley, has been at the front of the push.
"In Chicago, Ald. Vi Daley (43rd) came up with the idea for decorative bike racks while working with the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce to install racks on Clark Street, between Armitage and Diversey.
“We wanted to do, not just the regular bike racks. We wanted to do something unique and something different,” Daley said.

“But, all of the sudden we ran into this obstacle along the way because the city would rather have their standard bike racks. They were concerned about having something bigger, whether it’s shaped like a fish [or something else]. How does it fit on the street? Is it too big? Is it too small? Is it too close to the curb?”

The new public art program will force the city to be more flexible. And bike riding will benefit.

“People come to the ward to see the sculptures. They might do the same thing with bike racks, if they’re that unique,” she said."
 This is another fine example of Vi's championing the arts in our urban community.  As a regular bike commuter and patron of the arts, I couldn't be more pleased with this effort.  The regular black metal bike racks certainly have their place, and function just fine, but their is something really great about seizing the opportunity to marry artist creativity and the public need into something really useful and unique.  I can't wait to see some of the designs.

While on the topic of Biking, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Village Cycle Center, at 1337 N Wells Street.  I couldn't be happier with the service I've received from them over the years.  Village Cycle Center is full of helpful sales employees, all of whom come across as real bike enthusiasts and are willing to take the time to really help you find the right bike, repair your current model or find just the right accessories.

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