Toolkit for Artist Designed Bike Racks

Metro Arts is responsible for arts & cultural policy/programming for the combined city/county government of Nashville, Tennessee. In June 2016, they released a toolkit for artists interested in building bike racks as art.

Benefits & Problems Addressed

Help artists understand how to create public works art: In Nashville, artists want to do public art, but have no idea how to get started or even what’s involved. The toolkit includes sample budgets & contracts, criteria, process flow charts, and a press kit.

Connecting artists with local makers: The program brings together fabricators and artists for art that the community uses. 

Visibility: The public gets to see their "one percent for arts" in action, even if they do not bike. 

Tips & Techniques

Audience: This toolkit is aimed mainly at city planners, arts agencies, business owners, and art and/or bicycle advocates. Public works officials are also key stakeholders since most racks are located in public rights of way. Because Nashville has a strong public health mandate, this community also provides support.

Process stakeholders: (1) Project coordinator, (2) Selection committee, (3) Fabricator, (4) Structural Engineer, (5) Artist, (6) Installation team.  Depending on public processes, you may also need sign off from neighbors and a steering committee of bicyclists who can advise on usable design (i.e., ensure bikes can be easily, safely locked).

Site Selection: Metro Arts partners with Metro Nashville Public Works for a comprehensive survey of potential bike rack locations, noting proximity to other bike racks, installation challenges, visibility issues and other criteria. Bicyclists also prefer sites close to destinations.

Costs: Most racks are fabricated in the $10,000 to $20,000 range, some even less.  Nashville pays artists $3,500 for their design fee. This includes purchasing their design and about four in-person meetings with our staff and the fabricator.

Bike rack dedication: Nashville throws a party and labels each installation as "Public Art Bike Rack"

Maintenance: Metal on metal scraping can be an on-going issue so budget for repainting (or choose designs that resist scratching). Monitor for graffiti. 

Hot Buttons:  Art+ bike racks are not necessarily inexpensive, Artists & fabricators need to design for ADA compliance and artists must carry liability insurance.


Toolkit for Artist Designed Bike Racks, Link from Springboard

List of Bike Racks, Metro Arts

Image: Flickr/Ron Cogswell