Biking is becoming a more popular mode of transportation for employees commuting to work. In Houston the bus/LRT agency, METRO, has added bike racks to the front of the “local” buses and opened storage lockers in the bottom of the long-distance buses that serve the Park and Ride lots. At least the racks on the front of the local buses are being used as I often see the bikes perched there. I ride the Park & Ride daily and only twice in the past three years saw someone using the shallow locker accessed from outside. He told me he does not like using the lockers as his bike is regularly scoffed from bouncing and vibrations while lying on its side. But that is another story and this post is about unique bike racks.
Seeing more bikes in use is good but just like for cars there has to be a place to leave it once the destination is reached. Many urban areas are installing bike racks that are more attractive than the usual grade-school variety that is a long galvanized rack with many pipes about 4 inches apart through which the front tire is placed. This article is to share other ideas that contribute to the street scape in more ways than just adding something to secure bikes.
The first photo here is a custom bike rack installed on Preston Street in downtown Houston. It is made of stainless steel pipe that was bent in a tubing bender into the shape you see here. After being bent it was scored with a rotary grinder to give the steel surface a pattern caught the sunlight. The rack is anchored in a concrete base below the pavers. One issue with the rack that took away from the initial plan is that tubing benders are made of carbon steel. Therefore when the stainless steel was bent tiny pieces of carbon became embedded in the stainless and later rusted leaving small rusty red spots. In some cases water running over that spot caused a red streak below that location. The red spots were not glaring but adding to them the dust and grime of a street that slowly gathered on the rough surface and now the racks do not have the initial glimmer in the sun anticipated by the artist.
The other photos are from the Dauphin Street Historic District in downtown Mobile Alabama. They are beautifully built and appear to be maintaining their appearance in the street environment. I do not know the fabrication methods but note there are few rounded pieces and they may not have been rolled. The finish also appears to be polished to some extent to remove the usual lines and dull finish that results from the pipe fabrication.
The second one on this page is by Tom Telhiard of Pensacola Florida. Cory Swindle of Fairhope Alabama did the second one. The one at the bottom of the page with the three bike seats–the center one is facing this way and is hidden by the two seen here–was designed and built by Casey Downing Jr. That rack depicts three unicycles standing together.
There are many nice commercially built racks that add to the street scape. But, if you want to do something unique here are a few ideas and the artist that created them.