The Story with NYC’s Design-y Bike Racks

If you’ve walked around New York City you may have noticed a subtle design detail in the form of these circular bike racks.  There’s even a specimen in the Brooklyn Museum.  We wondered – why do we have such nice bike racks?  And it turns out there’s an interesting story.

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In the first half of the naughts (the 00s), the number of bikers in NYC increased by 75%.  As part of the City’s green initiative, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Mayor Bloomberg wanted to show their support.  So, they decided to abolish the CityRack and hold a competition for a new design that would be both functional for the bikers and attractive across a changing streetscape.  (They planned to install 5000 of them after all!)

To jury and judge the competition, the City engaged the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.  They came up with the Design Guidelines, which emphasized security, durability, and efficient use of space.  Bonus points for coming up with something graffiti-resistant and for using environmentally-sustainable materials.  Also, there must be a minimum two-point connection between the bicycle and the rack.  Here’s how the winning design met the requirements:

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The winners of the competition were Ian Mahaffy and Maarten De Greeve, industrial designers working from Copenhagen.  Their circular rack design, the “Hoop,” is an abstrated bicycle tire.  It’s made of cast metal to withstand all types of elements.

What’s more, in the year following the win, Mahaffy and De Greeve consulted with the DOT to design an attachment for unused parking meters.

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IAN MAHAFFY, from Northern Ireland, immigrated to Denmark in order to work as a concept designer for Lego.  Since 2007, he’s been an industrial designer, breaking off to form his independent company in 2011.

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