The new DNC-sponsored–and art-infused–bike racks Downtown are a huge step forward.
Recently, I rode my bike to the Downtown Norfolk Council member briefing.
As is no surprise to anyone who has ridden their bike Downtown, there was no bike rack in sight when I got to my destination, Dominion Tower.
I found the nearest light pole. I strapped by bike to it. What else can you do?
My friend Wes Cheney put this in perspective for car drivers: What do you do when you go somewhere and there are no parking spots? Either you get annoyed and drive a few blocks (or more) away until you find a spot, or you simply leave.
A parking space is an invitation to come and stay awhile. A parking space says “You’re welcome here.” A parking spot means that someone, on an institutional level, has planned for your arrival.
So what message does Downtown’s lack of bike racks–our version of parking spots–send to cyclists?
Don’t bother answering that, because very soon the question will be completely irrelevant. The better question: How excited are you to park your bike against a beauty like this?
I almost feel like a little kid, running through the streets, spreading news of an advancing army of saviors: The bike racks are coming! The bike racks are coming!
“A part of making downtown memorable to visitors is adding the intrigue and whimsy of public art,” DNC presidenet Donna Phaneuf said in the press release. “A part of providing more transportation options and making downtown more environmentally sensitive is adding bike racks that support a more health conscious populous. The bike racks that are also public art do both and DNC is thrilled to be able to add these great amenities to downtown.”
While that is a fantastic sentiment, and I applaud Phaneuf, Cathy Coleman, and the rest of the DNC for making this happen, there was someone else in the room yesterday that got me even more excited than the new bike racks: Frank Duke, Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Norfolk.
Frank Duke gets it. He talked about how the City needs to provide more transportation choices. He talked about bikes as a way of mitigating congestion. (Yes, making a city bike-friendly is a lot cheaper, not to mention greener, than building new roads). Duke talked about changing city ordinances to facilitate a City more accommodating to bikers.
Did you know that the City’s current master plan specifically says that bikes aren’t a major part of the City’s transportation future?
Frank Duke does, and he doesn’t like it. Which makes me like Frank Duke very much.
But as changes in infrastructure are still a ways away, I’m going to revel in these new bike racks.
They will be beautiful. Tourists will take their pictures with them. They will further artify our ever-artifying Downtown. They will encourage more cyclists. They will be a tremendous source of civic pride for me and a lot of people I know.
Don’t believe that Norfolk is a City of Bikes? Guess what, DNC’s unveiling the new bike racks Wednesday, June 22st, at 11am. There will be bikes strapped to them on a regular basis. You watch.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to doing the Homer dance.
Here are the other three racks. There will be a total of five.