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A better way to park your bicycle - Brooklyn firms compete in design contest

Two Brooklyn design firms are among the 10 finalists in an international competition destined to propel bicycle racks from ho-hum street furniture to utilitarian works of art.

Open Thread Design and Anthony Bitoni/FADarch are participating in the CityRacks Competition, which seeks to establish a new standard for the city’s bicycle racks.

The contest, supported in part by Google Inc. and Transportation Alternatives, a not for profit advocacy group, drew over 200 entrants from 24 states and 26 nations who sought to develop attractive, functional and well-designed sidewalk racks.

The finalists were announced last week by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

The winners will be announced at the Cooper-Hewitt on Oct. 24, during its National Design Week.

The finalist will receive $10,000 and, in exchange for the prize, transfer intellectual property rights to the design to the city.

“These finalists each demonstrate an understanding of how bike parking in New York City can be attractive, functional and secure,” said DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan.

“From among these intriguing designs, the competition jury will identify the one that best meets the city’s needs for usable bike parking that will also generate greater interest in bicycle use in the city.”

Sadik-Kahn is a member of the six-member jury, which also includes, First Deputy Mayor Patrica Harris; artist and musician David Byrne; Duncan Jackson, principal of BillingsJacksonDesign; Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt; and Craig Nevill, New York engineering director at Google.

The DOT has said its goal is to double bicycle commuting by 2015, by expanding “bike parking and making bicycling more convenient and attractive.”

The winning rack will be used “as the new standard for bicycle parking,” and the city “will consider” using the winning design indoors as well, in municipal builidng, the agency said.

The non-winning designs may still find a place in the urban landscape. “DOT may also choose to add other designs from the competition to the city design palette and allow their installation by other entities on public sidewalks,” the agency said in a statement.

The prototypes are currently installed in Astor Place in Manhattan. Duplicates are scheduled to be installed in Brooklyn in front of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue.

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, called the designs “eye-catching,” but said that quantity was just as important as quality.

“Bike racks should be as common in New York City as street lights,” he said.

The city currently has about 4,700 of the old U-shaped CityRacks across the city. They were designed 10 years ago.

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