City Looks for a Few Good (Looking) Bike Racks

Right as the city goes forward with its annual plan of clearing city sidewalks of abandoned bikes, a contest is underway to give cyclists more places (and better looking places) to park their rides.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy have teamed up to hold a bicycle rack design competition that brings street art and utility together.

"We're very excited about the art rack program," said Bicycle Coalition spokesman Nicholas Mirra. "It combines two of Philly's growing strengths -- art and bicycling -- while addressing the desperate need for more bike parking."

“Our goal is to use the same pavement twice: bring some desperately-needed bike parking to our streets, while enlivening our streetscapes with new public art,” posted the Bicycle Coalition.


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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, ” Philadelphia OCCE Public Art Director Margot Berg told NBC10.

It’s a great way to combine the utility of a bike rack with the aesthetic of art while encouraging additional ridership, sad Berg.

Mirra also mentioned the "transformative power" that a private-public partnerships like this one can have on the community.

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.

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.

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.

The racks cost anywhere from $5,000 for a small rack (parks two bikes) up to $15,000 for a large rack (about 6 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 that is being 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.

Similar programs have brought artistic bike parking to the streets of Boston, Los Angeles, Raleigh, New York City and even north of the border in Toronto Canada.

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.”

Don’t live in the city? Don’t fret, the contest is open “to all artist and design professionals.” Just be sure you have the means not only to design, but to fabricate and install the rack, said Berg.

Berg said they are hoping for at least a few hundreds design proposals.

The artistic bike racks should start popping up next spring. And if you’re design is chosen it’s possible your bike rack will be placed in more than one location, according to organizers.

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