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Art will brighten Cleveland's bike station

Marc Lefkowitz  |  01/11/10 @ 2:43pm

Public art that taps nostalgia and a retro '80s palette will liven up the downtown Cleveland bike station. Last Friday, the Cleveland Planning Commission approved Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Mark Reigelman and undergrad Scott Stibich's idea to adhere hundreds of metallic-blue bike handlebars festooned with green streamers on a blue-painted façade of a city owned garage at E. 2nd Street, just north of The Q. The pair won the design competition hosted by Cleveland Public Art?supported by a grant from local giving circle, Cleveland Colectivo?from 30 eligible submissions.

The station, dubbed The Bike Rack, is on track for a spring 2010 groundbreaking, Cleveland City Planner, Marty Cader, reported, and a summer grand opening. The city is funding the build out of the 6,500 sq. ft. space, which will include indoor rack space for 50 bikes, men's and women's shower and locker rooms and a repair shop. Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) will manage the operation and plans to hire a manager whose duties will include individual and corporate membership sales and services.

Companies such as Medical Mutual have expressed interest in buying memberships for employees, Cader said. DCA is considering operating a bike rental program from the station, he added, and has discussed with The Cleveland Indians a bike valet service. At least two other staffers could be hired to manage the front desk and to run the repair shop.

The artists will paint the horizontal decks of the five-story garage in deep blue and then use an industrial strength adhesive tape to affix more than 800 locally milled, recycled aluminum bike handles which will be painted a sky blue and accented with a bright green streamers made of nautical nylon rope. The colors were actually borrowed from the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit logo (not Miami Vice).

"When we put hundreds of these on the building, you'll have a surface that's in constant motion," says Reigelman.

The art was inspired by childhood memories of riding a bike for the first time. In addition to improving the drab white façade, the artists developed sign materials. The commission approved the design of The Bike Rack and a 'b' inside a circle, which plays off of the universal parking symbol of a 'P' inside a circle.

"Is 50 racks enough space to meet demand?" Commission member David Bowen wondered afterwards. Cader responded that University Circle and Cleveland State University are also working on bike station plans, and he suggested that filling the downtown station could lead to more stations.

"Are these stations profitable?" Commission chair Tony Coyne asked. Cader said Cleveland is building on the business model of Chicago's bike station at Millennium Park, which depends largely on its bike rental income (it also has corporate sponsors including McDonald's), and Bikestation, a facility located at Union Station in Washington, D.C. reportedly generates income, and includes a bike valet service.

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The Planning Commission acknowledged the ongoing conversations between its members and bike and pedestrian advocates to include a bike/ped path on the Innerbelt Bridge. At the end of the meeting, the commission discussed a resolution of support, and decided to explore how a resolution can impact the bridge design-build process. One option being discussed is adding an 'add alt' or an additional alternative that would allow the proposals to include non-motorized amenities on the bridge in the RFQ. Sustainable transportation advocates present provided feedback, including a stronger approach may be to include a requirement as part of the main RFQ. The commission will take up the matter again at its next meeting, on Jan. 22 in Room 217 in Cleveland City Hall.

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