Lock it up: Lakeview bike racks double as sidewalk art
Published: Friday, May 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
With the weather warming and not only the hardcore bicyclists on the road, it is the time of year that bikes begin to be locked up in the most unique places – most of the time on a fence or a post, and not on one of the designated racks provided by the city of Chicago.
That’s something the Central Lakeview Merchants Association is trying to change, while at the same time adding a little sidewalk art to the Lakeview neighborhood.
Over the past few months, CLMA has purchased 20 colorful bike racks, manufactured by Dero Bike Rack Co., that are an array of different colors and are in the shape of, you guessed it, a bike.
“I purchased 10 racks to give to the neighborhood,” said Gus Isacson, Executive Director of the CLMA. “We got so many nice comments that I purchased 10 more. Two are in Uptown and the other 18 of the racks are throughout Lakeview.”
The racks, which are made of metal, are the size of a standard bike, only missing the pedals and a driver mounted on the top.
Dero is based in Minnesota and manufactures an assortment of innovative products within the biking industry, including bike racks, shelters and lockers.
“We try to design [the bike racks] so that the bikes locked to them are supported in two spots, the frame and the front wheel,” said Mark Skoine, marketing manager at Dero. “This helps avoid bikes just strewn about everywhere. When supported in two spots, they are much more orderly and are harder to steal. If used properly, [the racks] are meant to hold four bikes, but typically only hold two.”
A rack shaped like a bike is obviously going to cost more to produce than your run-of-the-mill u-shaped black racks that are commonly seen on Chicago streets.
“The Dero bikes cost $500 each,” said Isacson. “The initial ones were purchased with our SSA funds (Special Service Area – a tax levy on the business district) and the others were purchased with chamber funds.”
Two of the 20 bike racks sit in front Aldermen Tom Tunney (1057 W. Belmont) and James Cappleman’s (4544 N. Broadway) offices. Having a decorative piece outside the workplace is something that is welcomed.
“It’s a nice addition to the neighborhood,” said Max Bever, director of communications and community outreach for Tunney. “The Department of Transportation tries to get as many [racks] up as they can, and there is always a demand for more. This helps with the backlog.”
Because of the positive reception, Isacson said there may be plans in the books to bring even more bikes to the city.
“There have been numerous calls from both aldermen that other businesses would like other types of bike racks in front of their stores,” said Isacson. “We are thinking of doing a 50/50 program where business pays $250 + we pay the other half to have racks in front of their stores.”
Creating unique bike racks is something Dero specializes in.
“We can make anything within reason,” said Skoine. “We have certain child endangerment standards. There are some we can’t do. Like when you're building a house you can’t have it so a child’s head could become trapped.”
Isacson is open to having other shapes besides bikes lining the street in the future.
“We didn’t want to show favoritism to other businesses,” said Isacson. “But it would be possible to specify the shape of the rack in front of a business with the 50/50 program.
“It would be really cool to have a dog bone bike rack in front of a pet store.”