By Richard White, December 8, 2013 (revised May 3, 2014)
Saskatoon's everyday tourists, Leila and Charles Olfert. recently sent me six photos of FFQ (fun, funky, quirky) bike racks in Nashville that inspired this blog. I am hoping other readers will send me more images of FFQ bike racks so I can create a fun gallery.
A little research uncovered that Nashville’s bike rack program is not focused on downtown (like most programs), but in the residential neighbourhoods. I was also shocked to learn the budget is $300,000 for 30 racks. That’s, on average $10,000 to design, construct and install the racks – seems a bit pricy to me.
I learned funding for Nashville artists’ bike racks comes from the "Percent for the Arts" program, an policy that says 1 percent of all net proceeds of general obligation bonds issued for construction projects must be spent on public art. That made we wonder if this is art or decoration?
The vision for these bike racks is to “be an iconic program for Nashville.” I am not sure I would visit Nashville just to see 30 bike racks, but if I was going, they would be a fun thing to checkout. The racks being dispersed around the city is a great idea on one level, but it limits the ability for a tourist to see them all. However, a map of where all the bike racks are, with the best cycle route to see them and a bike rental program would make for a fun a fun Bike Trail. This raises the question - what does iconic mean?
Do we use the word to loosely today?
A city is a city…
A quick check in with Leila who informed me...
“The bike racks are indeed located all around the city - a map and bike trail would have been really handy. In fact, it would have been handy if the local people knew about the racks and where they were! Probably because of their obscurity and uniqueness, Charles and I made it a mission to find all them!
Some of them were in pretty obscure places but it allowed us to explore parts of the city we would not have ordinarily gone to. In some places, we had to go around the block several times before we figured out where the rack was! It was a real treasure hunt. We enjoyed each and every one of the bike racks.
Some of them had us wondering just how we would lock our bike up to them though!
We have not seen anything like this in our travels and thought it was great! A city is a city and has all the 'city things,' so when we find something peculiar to a city, we latch on to it and run with it. Seeing the bike racks should definitely be on your must-see list. They are pretty cool!
As I continued to do my research I found out program favours younger artists, which is an interesting policy. The easiest way to create an iconic art program would be hire a famous artist or architect to design them and get immediate recognition.
The idea of giving young artists an opportunity to have their work on permanent public display and to experience the public artwork design process provides an invaluable lesson that will pay dividends in the future.
And, you might just find that you have a real gem if one of the artists becomes famous, and you would have one of his/her’s early works.
Portlandia has FFQ bike racks too…
A little more digging and I found that Portland also has an FFQ Bike Program. The Portland Mercury’s Blogtown did a fun piece on The 10 Craziest Bike Racks in Portland.
Art / Decoration / Tacky?
When I look at the photos of these bike racks I smile and then I wonder. Are these more decoration than art? They are clever and fun, but I don’t see a personal statement in any of these racks. To me, they are a quick, “look-see” experience, not something that makes me ponder.
Is this art or decoration or just tacky? Does it matter? Can’t help but wonder if $300,000 could buy one or two nice piece of more thought-provoking public art in higher traffic areas. but that's just me.