Chicago Gets Artistic Bike Racks

Chicago cyclists soon will be getting a little culture with their theft deterrence if the City Council approves a plan to allow artists to design special racks for riders to lock up their bikes. The need for more racks has come about because of the city is removing parking meters and switching to pay-and-display boxes. This is going to cost bicycle riders thousands of parking spaces. They used to hitch their wheels to meters, and now they can’t. The city has 10,000 regular bike racks in the city, but with the ever increasing cycling population, they need to supplement the lost meter poles.

Neighborhood groups and chambers of commerce would pay for the racks and get a lot of say in picking the designs under a measure the council's Transportation Committee adopted today. Artist-designed bike racks have become a draw in places like Austin, Los Angeles, Louisville, and several other US cities. Louisville is up to 32 racks since a downtown association started commissioning them nine years ago.

It's doubtful the rack art will be as popular as Chicago's 1999 "Cows on Parade," but they could be a hit with Chicagoans and tourists.