There’s nothing like the smile that a sunny morning ride across the fabled Brooklyn Bridge can paint on your face, or pulling off the West Side Bike Path at 14th Street to discover that you’ve led an impromptu bicycle calvacade halfway up Manhattan. Against all odds, I’m a sometime bike commuter in New York. Since life in this city is so unpredictable, bike parking — especially in-building bike-parking — is what makes it all possible. I’m lucky to work in at a company with an indoor bike room; if I end up meeting friends across town, or leave work as the spring sleet begins to fall, I can always beg off until the next day, knowing that my bike is safe inside.
Not everyone’s so lucky, though. “A study conducted by the Department of City Planning found that lack of access to secure bike parking was the primary reason cyclists did not ride to work. The current standard fixture for bicycle parking consists of variations of a fabricated square steel tube called the “CityRack” that is mounted on sidewalks. These fixtures occupy little space on the sidewalk and do not obstruct the flow of people or goods…. The CityRack design, however…. does not fulfill the potential to be an icon for New York City cycling.” — CityRacks Design Competition website.
The Big Apple is looking for some new sidewalk dressing that’s elegant, innovative, durable, and iconic, and it’s doing so via an international design competition with four disparate but significant sponsors: the NYC Department of Transportation, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design, Google, and advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
Unlike many design competitions, there’s a user testing cycle built in! Up to 10 teams will receive up to $5,000 to fabricate their solution, which will be installed and tested at 2 public locations throughout NYC. Final winners are selected after that period. It sounds like the challenge is to improve on a generally useful and usable status quo, while adding an element of desirability to the new design.
Register your team by April 30, and submit your design by June 9 at http://nycityracks.wordpress.com/