Monday, June 7, 2010

Decorative bike racks in the city

Every once in a while inspiration visits city hall.

Fran Spielman reports on the new bike racks coming to a sidewalk near you.

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.

Decorative bike racks are already being installed in a host of cities, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Lousville and San Antonio, according to Nathan Mason, curator of special projects for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

They could become every bit as popular in Chicago, adding a whimsical boost to the city’s 10,000 mundane bike racks that encourages cycling. “I can see it motivating families to bicycle. It’s like, ‘Let’s take the kids and go lock our bikes up to the dog down the street,’ ” Mason said.

“It’s a good thing because it addresses the need for more bicycle parking.