Bike Racks as Art

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By Peter Noonan.

All the best art must give us something to aspire to. Urban bike racks may, on their face, not seem a perfect vehicle (pun intended) for public art and a common conversation of local values and desires. But, in their small, utilitarian way, I think they are.

David Byrne, frontman for the Talking Heads and noted bike enthusiast and advocate, summed up his urban bicycling adventures perfectly: “there’s a sense of floating through the landscape, watching it as it goes by, but you can stop at any moment if something catches your eye”. The beauties of biking in the city – apart from the obvious conveniences and time-saving qualities over cars – are brought to to bear in one single, stark truth. Urban biking makes a city more human. It makes the city more relatable. It makes the city less distant. Biking makes the city more about us.

Bike racks can encourage more urban biking and exploring. There are other varietals, of course, including bike education and city street improvements. But racks can serve as a visual reminder that bikes can and should be encouraged in our urban environments. The best bike racks can be witty, amusing, frivolous and – importantly – fun. Putting the fun back into urban biking is paramount to encouraging the local commuting populace. If a bike rack can evoke a smile, a laugh and even a bit of curiosity as to why someone would put an ice cream cone shaped rack downtown, then that will be all for the good. And the best advertisement for more and better biking in the city would be a happy, healthy populace who want to commute to work, to play, to family … and have fun doing it.

Below is an excellent article from the Union Leader about recent bike rack designs.

By Katie McQuaid.

Am I the only one who thought bicycle racks came in one design? You know, a few horizontal metal bars held together with a bunch of vertical bars through which to stick your bike wheel.It never occurred to me one could look like the Jefferson Mill tower, or the old Amoskeag Bridge.
Thank goodness for creative types like local graphic designer and illustrator Peter Noonan. He has come up with a few potential designs, including the ones mentioned, to be considered for new bike racks to be installed around the city through a joint effort of the Bike Manchester group, local businesses and non-profits, and the Manchester Department of Public Works.

“I really wanted to capture the flavor of Manchester and the mill/river history, so there are echoes of the city hall tower and the Jefferson Tower. We have some more concepts in the works, but these are a start,” Noonan wrote to the Scene.

Noonan’s designs were shared through Bike Manchester’s latest email newsletter in hopes of inspiring others to come up with a few designs themselves. All submissions will be considered at the next Bike Manchester meeting this Thursday.

In their travels, Bike Manchester co-chair Will Stewart and other group members have seen alternative versions of the traditional bike rack — like musical-themed designs in Nashville — and wanted to bring something similar to Manchester.

“We thought it would be neat to do something that reflected Manchester,” Stewart said.Others can submit bike rack concept drawings to bike@bikemht.com before Thursday’s meeting. It’s as simple as drawing them on some paper and taking a picture with your smart phone. Each rack should be designed to hold two to three bikes.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Dyn offices, 150 Dow St. It is open to the public, and the final bike rack design will be chosen by consensus of the people in attendance, Stewart said.Coincidentally, the actual racks will be built by Noonan’s brother, David Noonan, a wrought iron metal fabricator who is also an approved vendor for the Public Works Department.

The racks will be funded through the Manchester 50/50 Bike Rack Program announced at the beginning of the year, which allowed businesses and non-profits to apply to share the cost of having a $400 bike rack permanently installed on or near their property. The other half is being paid for by a grant from the Central New Hampshire Bicycling Coalition.

Approved for racks so far are 900 Degrees, Puritan Backroom, KPG Realty, Dairy Queen, Neighborworks Southern New Hampshire, Red Oak Apartment Homes Inc. and Devine Millimet.If all goes according the schedule, Stewart said the new racks could be installed by the Public Works Department by the end of June.

“Most areas of the city will be seeing one,” Stewart said. And he believes the remaining few racks available through this round of funding will be grabbed up as soon as people see the finished product.

I think so too. Who wouldn’t want a locally designed and built functional piece of art on permanent display outside their business for just $200?To learn more about Bike Manchester and its work to make Manchester a more bicycle-friendly city, visit www.bikemht.com. – See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150526/LOCALVOICES07/150529470#sthash.pohdoe48.dpuf

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