Artistic Bike Racks Coming Downtown

Monday, October 13, 2014, 4:01 pm
By: 
Alice Dreger

Six new works of art that will double as bicycle racks are to be celebrated at an East Lansing ribbon-cutting event next week. Ami Van Antwerp, Communications Coordinator for the City, estimates that the $20,000 project will net “at least 10 new [bicycle] parking spaces” downtown. According to Van Antwerp, “There are a couple of situations where we are replacing deteriorating hoops with the new artistic bike racks.”

The $20,000 in funding comes from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership ($10,000), the East Lansing Arts Commission ($6,000), and the East Lansing Downtown Development Authority ($4,000). Artists contributing work include Todd Kime, shown above with his work, “Budget Friendly." Other artists include Randolph Dunn, shown below with his “Peace Tree,” Doug DeLind, Fred Hammond, David Such, Lee J. Kronenberg, and Paul Such.

I asked Bill Mansfield, Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Chair, why the DDA decided to make a $4,000 contribution to this project. He answered, “This is an initiative the DDA undertook to support East Lansing's arts culture. While we are supportive of the artistic side of this project, it serves a functional goal as well. Many of the bike racks and loops downtown are in disrepair. I think there's also an opinion that there aren't enough bike racks, period.”

A non-artistic bike rack that accommodates nine bicycles lists for about $500 online. Considering the cost of about $2,000 for every gained bicycle parking space, Mansfield told me, “I've actually had some ‘criticism’ that the bike capacity [from this project] isn't higher, and I understand that.” He added, “The artists themselves have to deal with several conflicts—if I put 6 bikes on this rack, it covers up my attractive metalwork. So that's an ‘artistic pickle,’ then there's also a budgetary reality—if the rack is bigger, it costs more to make.”

According to Mansfield, inspiration came from a similar project in Louisville, Kentucky. He told me, “there was a fair amount of admiration within the art community for Louisville's project and that it was a really nice benchmark for our community to hit, [and I] have to say, I think we're on par.”

I asked the City’s Van Antwerp how bicyclists will know these sculptures are racks to which one is allowed to lock-up a bike. She answered, “We will have signage on the sidewalk underneath each bike sculpture. It will include the artist name, name of art piece and an image of a bike. It will also say ‘Bike Parking’ on the signage.”

The dedication of the new racks will take place at 11 am on October 22 in Fountain Square, at the corner of MAC Avenue and Albert Avenue and will feature speakers from the various agencies contributing financially. Expected to attend are East Lansing’s Mayor Nathan Triplett, Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris, LEAP President Bob Trezise, East Lansing Arts Commission Chairperson Nancy Marino, and East Lansing DDA Chairperson Bill Mansfield.

Photos courtesy of City of East Lansing.