This is not the first time around the block for me: it’s no secret that I like bikes and I like art too. I thrive off of the feeling of inspiration that each generates in my life. I especially like when the two worlds of bicycle and art merge.
I recently shared that I had a visit to the Bike Mecca of North America last week. There’s something about a physical change in location that makes my life feel like a spot light is shining and highlighting the mundane into ethereal.
One such mundane-to-ethereal transformation was the art of bike racks. Mundane: I use them every day when commuting around Austin: the library, the grocery store, and the credit union all host mirror images of the same solid, muted grey standard issue bike rack.
Yet in the cardinal neighborhoods of Portland, the grey edition of the bike rack existed, but it was in competition with the plethora of art-inspired versions of the bike rack. Bike racks in the shape of bicycles, racks with metal flowers and vines flowing, and racks inside of buildings; indoor with air-conditioning, heaters, and protection from the rain and sun.
With all of the speciality organized bicycles rides around Portland, I wonder if Austin’s version of the Moonlight Tower bike ride could be replicated with a special tour of the wondrous bike racks that line the streets of Stumptown.
This idea spawned the thought: “Hey, why doesn’t Austin have inspirational bike racks?” We could have racks that inspire cyclists to ride to racks, not only to use them, but to admire them for there inherent artistic nature.
After all, Austin has had art installations including gargantuan guitars; and the recent cow herd of “Austin Art Cows” scattered around town was auctioned off to raise $1 million dollars for an endowment fund for patients and families of the Children’s Blood and Cancer Center of central Texas.
If cows and guitars can do it, bikes can too. Scanning my mind for art racks around town, a few places emerge: the new Hyde Park location of Birds’ Barber shop on the corner of Red River and 41st street has one of the funkiest bike racks I’ve seen in town. The exaggerated sized bicycle as a rack looks illustrative like a cartoon and the bright blue color of the rack catches the eye from a distance. The national franchisee Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has racks with silhouettes of joyful children and adults in metal outlines that seem to be celebrating the bicycle as you tether it to the rack. And at Daily Juice off of 45th Street, the classic grey rack has been substituted with curving metal work that softens the look of the rack. Plus, if you arrive by bicycle, Daily Juice gives a discount.
These are some highlights of bike racks in my hood. What are bike racks like in your neighborhood?
One thing all these above mentioned racks have in common is that they are located at places of business in Austin. I’d like to see more independent art on the streets, and more bike racks as permanent art installations.
How about a bicycle art kickstarter campaign to make it happen?