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Bike Daemons

August 28, 2009

This was originally a competition entry for the NYC DOT CityRacks bicycle rack competition with Daniel Ramirez and Nathan King.  It has since been re-printed in Pratt Institute’s graduate architecture journal, TARP.
close-upBecause of their speed and efficiency, bicycles may well be the future of transportation in the 21st Century city. For cycling to reach its full potential in the urban milieu, a locking strategy must be developed that  meets the needs of all cyclists. The traditional bicycle rack simultaneously accommodates and explicitly limits the urban cyclist: here you may bring your bike on the sidewalk, here you may park your bike safely, here you are allowed.   It is a familiar type of urbanistic intervention: clearly delineated, appropriately proportioned within the streetscape.  It belies, however, the opportunistic nature of urban cycling: rather than a simple replacement for driving a car, cycling fills the gaps between walking, public transportation and driving.

We are proposing a fixture that opportunistically utilizes the existing streetscape.  We are proposing a promiscuous fixture, one that can be attached to a wide range of existing street poles and can accept a wider range of locking methods.   Because it does not require complicated installation, it can meet local demand quickly.   Because it takes up no new real estate, it can serve areas without enough sidewalk space for traditional bicycle racks.

The traditional bicycle locking paradigm draws the line between public utility and the private user at the fixed rack, with the user bringing his or her own chain and lock.   We are proposing to shift this line from the rack to the chain, providing a more flexible fixture that can act as either a chain or a rack, depending on demand.   The cyclist is no longer required to carry a heavy chain with them, and can get by with a small U-lock or motorcycle lock.

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