Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bank Street Phase III, Part 6: Bike racks

[This post is part of a series on Bank Street's new look. See the introduction and part I here.]

Last time, I talked about the surfaces on Bank Street. Today's post is on my favourite topic--the bike racks.

As described in this panel from the March 2008 consultation, there isn't enough room on Bank for separate artworks as part of the Percent for Art program. So the decision was made to combine art with function by having bike racks with artistic designs.

A mainstay of bike parking in Ottawa are these blue advertising-supported Velocity racks. There are other designs too, not all of which are successful. Unfortunately, as these little stickers reminded us this week, most of the blue racks are removed for the winter:

The most secure year-round place to lock your bike to is parking meters. However, this has two problems for Bank Street. For one, parking meters will be phased out for Pay & Display over the next few years. But they also don't support the bike at two points, as recommended in the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals' Bicycle Parking Guidelines, this unfortunate Bank Street cyclist's bike is a case in point: it's fallen and the front wheel may get hit by a car, and passers-by may think it abandoned, inviting tripping, vandalism, and other damage.

At a few of the side-street bulbouts, these ring-and-post racks were installed. There are a couple other shots of these in Part 4 of the series, benches. Ring-and-post is one of the better types of racks, though many of the ones on Bank Street were located far from where cyclists wanted to park.

Here's one of the ring-and-post racks removed during construction, next to the Scotiabank at Gloucester. You can see the clump of concrete at the base of the post that served as an anchor for the bike rack in the sidewalk.

North of Laurier, a ring-and-post variant, designed by a Montreal company, were installed, and are kept in place throughout the year. They certainly have a different aesthetic to them. I've heard complaints from some cyclists that these racks don't allow you to use the central post for locking a U-lock, which limits your options for securing your bike. I've noticed myself that there are too few of them around when you want to have a meeting at the Bridgehead at Bank and Albert and the committee members all got there by bike.

As part of the reconstruction for phases II and III, these triangular Cora racks were installed at many corners (this one at Bank and Cooper, North-East) for higher capacity bike parking, to take overflow when the racks along the street are full. They're also better for longer-term parking than the parking meters or the artistic racks, because there's less pedestrian traffic going by to bump into your bike.

They were particularly useful over the past winter, because the new artistic bike racks weren't installed until this year. They eventually came, and here are two of them installed in front of the Rogers Plus store at Bank and Gilmour. Their panels haven't been installed yet.

Here are some more at Bank and Flora, looking South toward the Queensway underpass at the European Glass and Paint store.

Normally bike parking is in high demand at Herb & Spice on Bank at Lewis, but on the day I took this photo, two dogs were all that was parked on the rack:

To install the racks, these cylindrical cores were cut out of the sidewalk down to the gravel, and the new racks are secured to strong foundations underneath. This one, of course, is at Bank and Gloucester looking North toward Laurier.

The racks are outfitted with these fingers which hold the steel panels. The horizontal piece will also double as another place to wrap your lock around.

The steel panels were laser-cut and delivered separately on pallets. There are 90 racks in all, featuring 30 different designs.

There was an official unveiling ceremony for the racks, held November 4, 2009 at Café Suprème at Bank and Cooper. Here we see one of the artists, Howie Tsui, describing the inspiration for his design to the crowd inside the coffeeshop.

All the designs were on display at the event, and each design was accompanied by a description of the design written by its artist.

And the official unveiling! This rack was designed by Roy Lumagbas, who is standing at the far left. (Photo courtesy of Councillor Holmes' office)

Finally, the completed designs are installed all down Bank Street. I quite like this stylistic representation of a cyclist.

And what's Bank Street without pigeons!

Café Suprème serves an ideal backdrop for this design. Can you see what it is*?

Be sure to check out my previous two posts on bicycle parking and design, as well as my other posts on cycling.

Tune in again in a few days for the next, and possibly last, installment of this series.

*It's a frog.


  1. Hi, Charles? So do they remove and replace the arty bank street bike racks for the summer then? when would they be coming back?email me

  2. Some people are wondering where the bike racks went. As reported at the end of this post, they have been removed for warranty repairs and will be replaced when those repairs are complete.