The Future Design of SF’s Bike Racks May Start on Treasure Island

Cityracks3.jpgOne of the racks from NYC's design competition and a green traffic-separated bike lane on Broadway.
The SFBC and the Department of Public Health (DPH) recently announced a bicycle rack design competition as part of a $100,000 community-based planning grant from Caltrans for the Treasure Island redevelopment plan.

SFBC project manager Neal Patel explained the competition's objectives are twofold: it is meant to inspire dynamic design for bike racks that could potentially be used in the future throughout San Francisco and it is meant to pique the public's interest in Treasure Island's redevelopment, which promises to create myriad bicycle paths throughout the island's 400-plus acres and a trail along the entire waterfront.

Nearly every structure on the man-made island will be removed in the redevelopment and replaced with 6,000 units of residential dwelling.  While cars will be able to access the island, Muni will run the 108 bus to a central transit hub near the existing guard booth and a new ferry service will connect the island's residents to the Ferry Building. 

Patel cited the size of the island and the short time it takes to traverse it (15-20 minutes on foot) as ideal factors for making it a bicycle and pedestrian sanctuary.

"We've seen a great partnership between bicycle planning and the Department of Public Health," said Patel. 
"There will be a great bicycle network, bike parking, and bike sharing on the island.  We thought having a unique rack would help identify Treasure Island as something special."

Patel acknowledged that the competition will not be on the scale of New York City's recent CityRacks project, but said the DPH identified extra money in the grant they hope to direct toward the distinctive design of the racks.  The winning design will receive $700 and the SFBC and DPH will use grant money to fabricate the rack.  Negotiations with the MTA and city will have to occur if any of the leading designs are to be installed after the bike injunction is lifted.

The timeline for the competition is tight, with the deadline for designs next Friday, March 13th, though the SFBC reports receiving a handful of excellent projects already.  Competition judges will include architect David Baker, SPUR Transportation Policy Director Dave Snyder, Ben Davis of WPI Web, Terri Gardner of SFBC, and possibly someone from the MTA.

Laurie Halsie Brown, the competition curator and founder of the non-profit consultancy Hello World SF, said she was inspired by an exhibition she saw at the American Institute of Architects San Francisco chapter where an artist had built a bike rack the shape and size of a car that would occupy a city parking space.  She then contacted Patel and asked to help organize the competition.  She said she hoped to have a series of events showcasing the winning design and a mobile exhibition that might even be moved by bicycle transport.  

Brown stressed the importance of bike racks as public art, but said they must also be functional and secure.  "This shouldn't just be amazing design, but must meet criteria for securing a bicycle at two points, etc.  The designs have to reference Treasure Island, urging people to go there, but they have to activate public space and be clearly designed as bike racks."

All inquiries and submissions should be sent here.