Is it a bike rack, or is it art?

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There's nothing that says something as useful as a bicycle rack has to be ugly.

Ever since New York City's transportation commissioner called them “handcuffs chained to the street,” that city has been encouraging artists to create more visually appealing bike racks. One of the first was David Byrne.

But way ahead of the Big Apple is Louisville, Kentucky. If you passed this sculpture at the corner of Fourth and Mohammad Ali in Louisville, would “bike rack” be the first thing to come to mind?


The city of Louisville has been installing such street sculpture for use as bicycle racks since 2001. That kind of commitment to bicycling is why it was named a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists in 2006.

Twenty-four objects d'art to hold bicycles are now scattered around downtown.

Noah Bierman at the Boston Globe was struck by all this street art during a visit to Louisville, and he contacted Ken Herndon about it.

The Downtown Management District gives local artists $2,000 to $2,500 for materials and tells them to “pursue their visions.”

Interactive map

Essentially the artists are giving away the sculptures in return for creative control and exposure. The bike rack pictured above, for instance, is by artist David Bibelhauser, who has a business sculpting bicycle racks.

The city has plans for 10 more artsy-fartsy bike racks in the coming year.

The 24 are located and pictured on an interactive map at the Louisville Downtown Management District website.

Just be warned, don't take the efforts in Louisville as an indication that the street art in your city is a bicycle rack. Chaining your bike to any miscellaneous sculpture could land a big fine for defacing public property.

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