14 Oct 2008 8:00 am   //   Filed under: Art, Bicycles

Reinventing the bike rack

Seen in the picture above is the standard New York City bike rack. It’s simple, ugly, indestructible, and barely functional. NYCDOT thinks we can do better, so they’re having a contest to redesign the bike rack. Prototypes of all the finalists have been installed around The Cube in the traffic island at Astor Place.

None of the prototypes proposes an elegant solution to the biggest problems facing the current racks: They can only host two or three bikes at a time, and bikes can fall over and bang up against each other. The present racks are sometimes hijacked by fools who hitch both tires of their bike parallel to the rack, rather than perpendicular to it.

Only one proposed rack looks like a fool-proof way to host four bikes, and it is also the biggest and ugliest.

The rest of the bike racks seem resigned to only accommodate two bikes, but if installed in pairs this could work. Something about the circular racks is appealing. They evoke bicycle wheels, they offer hitching space at a variety of heights to accommodate different-size bikes and chains, and they seem like they’d be durable. I think there is a quiet genius to this design:

Interestingly, one of the judges for the bike rack contest is David Byrne. He even proposed a few bike rack designs of his own just for fun, seen here.

The winner will be announced October 24.