Bike Racks - Am I Missing The Point?
They’re somewhere to park and lock your bike, aren’t they?
You can buy them pretty much off the shelf from a bunch of companies that bang them out by the thousand to a range of standard designs.
And when things are produced in volumes like that, they tend to be pretty inexpensive. Trust me, I know about these things!
So why is it then that people keep trying to reinvent this particular wheel? At a meeting earlier this week, I mentioned that there were no bike racks at the building I was visiting. The immediate reaction was that there was a local steel fabricators who could probably make them . . . with some nice decorative touches on the top.
Prior to that, we had New York City’s bike rack design competition:
And today, I read on C.I.C.L.E. that Los Angeles has opened up a bike rack design contest. Their design brief is all about function and lifespan, but makes no mention of target production costs.
Now I don’t have a problem with public art, or making the utilitarian appear beautiful.
But . . .
When bike racks are works of art produced by customised casting rather than basic fabrication processes . . .
And when bike racks look more like art than a place you’re supposed to lock your bike to . . .
. . . then I think we have a problem. Or four problems to be precise:
- These design-led racks for the most part seem to be low-density. If you were to put them on the road, you’d be lucky to get more than two bikes in the space that’d be taken up by a car.
- This is public spending on a basic piece of street furniture. So keep it simple . . . and the cost down.
- The money saved by buying off-the shelf racks could be used to fund a marketing campaign / free bike ‘tune-ups’ / free bike training (’get on / ride / repeat’) / whatever, that might be more effective at getting people onto bikes
- People mistaking genuine sculptures for bike racks, and locking up to them. You can see the headline in the local paper now, can’t you?
Or have I yet again, completely missed the point?