2 Weeks Left for Bike Rack Designs

Time is running out for area artists and cyclists to design the next great bike rack.

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With just two weeks to go, the city and bicycle enthusiasts are still hoping for dozens of bicycle rack designs.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy teamed up earlier this year for the bike rack design competition that brings street art and utility together to give cyclists more places (and better looking places) to park their rides.

Organizers originally told NBC10 back in June that they hoped to receive hundreds of entries -- with two week left they would now be happy with dozens.

“We have received only a handful so far,” Philadelphia OCCE Public Art Director Margot Berg told NBC10.

Berg and organizers are still hopeful that by Sept. 4 when the contest wraps up that they will have around 100 entries to sort through.

“We’re optimistic that we will get some more designs in closer to the deadline,” said Bicycle Coalition spokesman Nicholas Mirra.

Mirra said that the Coalition has turned to social media and posting boards to get more people interested in the the project since it's geared not just towards cyclists but also artists at large.

“We’re doing our best on our end to drum up awareness about the contest with local artists.”

Berg said that she has answered many questions from potential artists and that she believes that it being summer and people normally doing things at the last minute have played roles in only five to 10 entries so far.

Berg and Mirra agree that they expect many more entries before the deadline.

Designs must be received by Sept. 4. There are a bunch of requirements for designs so be sure to read the fine print of the “call for entries.”

The contest is geared towards delivering some of 1,500 new bike racks planned for the next five years in the city, according to organizers.

A small committee consisting of reps from the city, Bike Coalition and private companies will make the final decision on which designs are chosen. And, the first of the artistic bike racks will be fabricated and start popping up starting next spring.

Berg said anywhere from a handful to dozens of different designs could come to fruition depending on how much private funding is secured.

The racks cost anywhere from $5,000 for a small rack (parks two bikes) up to $15,000 for a large rack (about six bikes).

Back in May, the Coalition announced that a $50,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its Knight Arts Challenge would be used to fund the artistic bike racks. Private donors will take care of matching contributions with zero of the program’s cost coming from the city, said Berg.

The need for these racks is because, according to the Bicycle Coalition, the city has more bike commuters per capita than any other Top 10 largest cities in the United States. Basically, Philly has more bikers than places to put bikes – hence why you see bikes tied up to gates, fences, traffic signs, street meters, etc. from Center City to South Philly to Mt. Airy.

Some of the planned downtown locations for the artistic bike racks include (appropriately) outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Perelman Building, near Boat House Row, at City Hall and at Penn Center Plaza.

No idea is too outlandish for consideration as long as it matches size and material requirements. “You are amazed with what people with creative minds come up with, ” Berg said.

Mirra echoed the excitement to see what people come up with.

“I’d love to (see) what people have in mind.”

Even if a design isn't chosen it could still be displayed as part of a City Hall art exhibit that is also being discussed, said Berg.

This is the first time the city and bike enthusiasts have teamed up for this type of design competition. Mirra said the Coalition will meet after the designs are picked in the fall to "figure out what worked and what didn’t work.”

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