I noticed a brightly painted neon bike while cycling through the city a few weeks back, then I spotted a couple more a few days later. Different colours, some with plastic flowers in the baskets. Definitely eye catching, but what's it all about?
Seems it began as a concept by a couple of employees at the Ontario College of Art and Design Student Gallery, who decided to "beautify" an abandoned rusty two-wheeler outside their office. "The Good Bike Project" was developed by Vanessa Nicholas and Caroline Macfarlane, apparently with the encouragement and acceptance of Councillor Gary Crawford. According to a press release sent out by Crawford, the bikes are meant to "to mark sites that promote the ethos of regeneration and community that sparked their creativity." I'm not quite sure what that exactly means or how these "sites" are determined, but it seems the concept is rapidly expanding across the city.
Apparently there were some 150 abandoned bikes scattered throughout Toronto neighbourhoods, which are now being held by the city's Solid Waste Department and are available for painting and placement. The city suggests the bikes could be sold when the project ends to generate funds for community art or other civic improvements.
"Over the coming weeks residents will see these bicycles appear in their neighbourhoods. Hopefully, this will help draw attention to local sites, attractions, businesses and organizations," said the Ward 36 councillor. Even our purported bike-loathing mayor has jumped on this project. "The Good Bike Project is an example of creativity that exists within young artists in our City. It certainly will be exciting when these bikes appear around Toronto this summer," said Mayor Ford. This despite the fact, that the same initial bike that started the project had received a city violation as an abandoned bike, only after it was painted.
I'm all for art, and especially DIY street art that brightens up the surroundings and makes for a more interesting city scape. Here's the problem I have with the expansion of this project throughout the city. The "good" bikes will have to be clearly identified and secured to a bicycle ring or on private property, according to city guidelines. As a full-time year-round commuter cyclist, I find summer to be quite a difficult time to find a spot to lock my bike up. Given the surgence in fair-weather cyclists over the past several years, this is most likely to get worse, rather than better. So for each of these "good" bikes locked to a bike ring, that means one less parking spot for cyclists.
So sure, pretty up those abandoned dead bikes and get people to take notice, but not at the expense of of those bikes still with a pulse. Perhaps the city could also endorse more lock-up post rings, even artistically designed ones that have been previously created by OCAD students in the past as well. Or perhaps these neon locked bikes have now been identified as abandoned, and therefore fair game to lock up to?
My bike still gets me around town, and that is my definition of a "good" bike.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com