Vancouver gets its first artistic bike rack

Vancouver’s first ever art racks.
(Photos: Marcus Griffith)

In the latest act of Portland’s bike love spreading to Vancouver, a Portland resident is opening Clark County’s first fully dedicated climbing center in downtown Vancouver, complete with Vancouver’s first artistic bicycle rack (a.k.a. “art racks“).

The Source is co-owned by Portland resident Hanz Kroesen and former Portland resident Michael Lary. According to Lary, the mountain peak shaped bicycle racks at The Source were designed and built by Kroesen, along with “most of the metal work” in the building.

Lary, who currently lives in Vancouver, said providing bike access to his clients was important to him as a businessman. “I bike here every day, so [bike parking] is usually pretty important to me,” said Lary.

In Portland, business have installed customized, artistic bike racks for a few years but the City of Vancouver Bicycle Parking Standards (PDF) contains language that suggests such racks are discouraged in Vancouver.

“If you plan to install a bicycle rack in the public right-of-way in either the downtown or Uptown Village area, you may have to install a style of rack that has been designed specifically for these areas,” the document states. The “designed” rack for downtown and uptown Vancouver is a traditional H-frame rack (shown below).

Vancouver Senior Planner Jennifer Campos pointed out the word “may” in the guideline when asked about the code. “We have never had a design requirement for bicycle racks in the downtown. The H-rack was our preference for a while, but we never required a developer to install them,” she said. Campos adds that she was “excited” to see the bike racks at The Source and said she “needs to update [the guideline] booklet.”

One rack may seem like a small step, but I will be surprised if we don’t see more artistic bike racks pop up across Vancouver over the next few months. The Source’s grand opening is Friday, Nov. 11, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and will include ribbon cutting ceremony, a climbing demonstration and a complimentary open climb and kids play session. All guests must sign a waiver to participate (you can download a copy at The Source’s website). The Source is located at 1118 Main Street in Vancouver, a short distance from the I-5 Bridge.

— Marcus Griffith is a cycling advocate, veteran of the US Navy and a freelance journalist currently contributing to BikePortland and The Reflector. Read more of his Vancouver coverage here.

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wsbob
wsbob
10 years ago

Kind of nice looking racks suggesting the idea of mountain peaks…but that pointy business doesn’t look good. I hope somebody doesn’t fall on or get pushed onto them.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago

Awesome lookin’ racks. The variance in height offers what appears to be some flexibility for options to lock up. coool….

Jessica
Jessica
10 years ago

Elegant looking racks! Put a bird on them and you couldn’t tell there not in Portland 🙂

Jerko
Jerko
10 years ago

Sweet, I’m actually more excited by more climbing options in the area. But mad props on the bicycle rack.

meh
meh
10 years ago

Too much form over function.

I’ll take boring racks made out of round tube over cool looking racks, where my paint is concerned

dwainedibbly
dwainedibbly
10 years ago

Small steps, one at a time…. Nice so see something good from Vancouver.

Are those supposed to represent mountains in the area? The nearest could be Hood. The 3rd farthest could be St Helens. Or am I seeing what I want to see?

John Russell (jr98664)
10 years ago

I nice improvement over the City of Vancouver’s standard racks. On the city’s racks, the sides of the rack are too thick to effectively lock your bike with a U-lock, and the top is awkwardly placed compared to the top tubes of most bikes.

jim
jim
10 years ago

You could poke an eye out on one of those

dmc
dmc
10 years ago

Awesome racks. I ride through the neighborhood everyday. I have never found any bike rack in Vancouver to not be applicable with a modern U-lock. Southwest Clark County residents are very supportive of the bicycle. In time this river will serve as no barrier between our ambitions.

Browntown
Browntown
10 years ago

Great, but I would like to see racks shaped like animals, would be safer. Would also be cool to have racks made of vintage steel frames planted into the ground. I thought of it first:)

Lester
Lester
10 years ago

There are some racks in Vancouver that have square tubing and as JR mentioned the height is kind of odd ( I guess maybe they’re lower than a standard staple. The tops aren’t just a simple bar, they have some kind of metalwork in them including a couple of circles, so if you usually lock to the top of a staple these are more difficult than a staple. I typically lock to one of the verticals. I’m having trouble describing them, I should take a picture tomorrow. It’s been a while since I’ve locked to one as I typically only lock up at the library or Bad Monkey these days.

If the racks at The Source don’t suit you there’s a bike corral a block south that always has room except during some art gallery events.

Lester
Lester
10 years ago

Duh, there’s a pic of the city racks in the article. I guess it’s well past my bedtime.

One thought on the racks at the Source is that they seem too close to the wall but I haven’t tried locking up there yet.

Athiholic
Athiholic
10 years ago

Great to a place to climb in Vancouver, and sweet racks. I like riding over there, the new library is amazing. My first thought was that someone could impale themselves if they fell from the roof, but thats cause I’ve seen too many episodes of Bones where people died similarly. Can’t wait to check it out.

Wallis
Wallis
10 years ago

Yes, these are nice bike racks, but in my opinion, not the first artistic bike racks in Vancouver. Years ago, the City installed some bike-shaped tubuler racks. Not real functional, but I like them. It is my understanding they were the brainchild of Kelly Putney who, while with the City of Vancouver, did more than a few good things to make this place more livable.

Marcus Griffith
Marcus Griffith
10 years ago
Reply to  Wallis

Wallis: Good point. I didn’t mean to ignore the bike shaped racks. Perhaps: ‘Vancouver’s first artistic bike racks customized to a nearby business’ may have been better word choice. There was also some debate if the bike shaped racks rose to the level of being “artistic bike racks” rather than just “non-standard racks.” For now, I will side step the ‘what is art’ debate as I haven’ had coffee yet.

I’ve used the bike shaped racks a few times and had some trouble locking up as well. Good thing in downtown Vancouver, one is never far from a parking meter/vertical bike rack.

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
10 years ago

If you’re going to attempt to put art on the street, don’t do it with an item that should be functional. The standard staple rack works well for a lot of different bikes, is rounded for less damage to bikes and people, and is cheap enough to put in a lot of. While the two shown (Source and Vancouver standard) don’t look TOO bad, neither looks as friendly as a staple rack. (I haven’t been to Vancouver to try them).

And, bike racks customized to neighboring businesses is just another form of commercial sign visual pollution. Some of the “sign” racks in Portland are pretty ugly and garish. Bike racks should be made to be used, not to look pretty when empty.

Jessica
Jessica
10 years ago
Reply to  Doug Klotz

There’s nothing wrong with having a little creativity in bike racks. They should still be functional, but it’s awesome when business install themed bike racks.

Surly
Surly
10 years ago

Awesome racks & great climbing space! Kudos Hans & Michael!

MacMickie
MacMickie
10 years ago

I second Jessica’s remarks. The already-designed racks for Vancouver are really quite good-looking. I’m not a cyclist but think communities/cities should provide adequate, safe spaces for bikes, and to have them well-designed, and even artistically designed is a MAJOR plus and one which we would expect from this, our MOST BEAUTIFUL corner of the U.S.!