Ranking the City of Vancouver’s Proposed New Bike Racks

We would never tell you how to vote. Just, you know, keep this in mind.

August 9, 2018

By Nathan Caddell / Photo: Alexa Suter, UnSplash

We’ve made it, folks. We’re in the final leg of the City of Vancouver’s contest to design a new bike rack for the cyclists of this fine town.

The jury has narrowed the 450 submissions (is the city rounding up or did it really land on a perfect 450?) down to six designs.

Cyclists—or non-biker residents who simply want to watch the world burn—can see the rack prototypes and vote for their preferred design by visiting one of the four ballot stations located around town August 13 through 16. The winner will be announced later this summer, and new racks installed in the fall.

The city has established some criteria for what it wants in a new bike rack, and we plan on wholeheartedly ignoring it for our own decision-making process. But here it is anyway, in case you’re curious.

From the city:

If you live, work, or study in Vancouver, you’re invited to enter our bike rack design contest. We’re looking for designs that:

  • Are fun and functional, and hold two bikes
  • Can be fabricated and installed by the City in a cost-effective way
  • Reflect Vancouver in a creative and original way


All right, let’s do this.

Guard Bird
Credit: City of Vancouver
  1. The Guard Bird

From the designer: Instead of a guard dog, here is the guard bird, a friendly helper always ready to hold a Vancouver cyclist’s bike (or two).

So it’s basically an Angry Bird with goggles? I guess this one is really gunning for the “fun” part of the contest.

This might please some youths (Angry Birds is still a thing, right? Right?) but it’s hard to find a real Vancouver connection.

Chickadee
Credit: City of Vancouver
  1. Chickadee-dee-dee

From the designer: Chickadee-dee-dee is a celebration of the sensory experience that biking offers—feeling wind on one’s face, smelling fresh cut grass and hearing birds chirping. The form is derived from a Black-capped Chickadee whose distinct call can frequently be heard along the bike routes winding through Vancouver’s neighbourhoods.

We’re not bird-ist, we swear. This one does have a more tangible Vancouver connection, though it’s debatable whether or not chickadees scream “Vancouver bird.”

Mind you, neither does Vancouver’s official bird, which is apparently the Anna’s Hummingbird. Let’s get real; we all know what flying creature is most synonymous with Vancouver.

The most intriguing thing about this design is how the team behind it put in so much work figuring out the angles and all the metrics, but they decided that, after all that work, “Chickadee-dee-dee” was the best name they could come up with.

Raindrop
Credit: City of Vancouver
  1. Definitely Raining

From the designer: Shaped like a raindrop, sized to a bike wheel.

We all knew it was coming, and here it is: the one that alludes to Vancouver being rainy. The colour is nice and would blend in nicely with the November clouds. But it’s just kinda boring. And more than anything, it looks like a blue pear.

Leaf
Credit: City of Vancouver
  1. Living Leaf

From the designer: “Living Leaf” was designed to reflect Vancouver’s aspiration to become one of the greenest cities of the world. The design resembles two leaves joined as one, which symbolizes the unification of our society. How only together we will achieve urban sustainability.

This one looks a tad contrived, sort of an offshoot of Toronto’s bike rack but green. And while we appreciate the call for urban sustainability, it does feel a little like pandering. Stop being such a suck-up, Living Leaf!

Leaf
Credit: City of Vancouver
  1. Petal Rack

From the designer: Embracing the beautiful and lush environment that symbolizes BC, the Petal Rack articulates the natural beauty of our province. Its design and colour will integrate perfectly with the sensibility of Vancouver’s eco-friendly lifestyle. They will also serve as a visual reminder to honour our environment and protect our natural resources.

If there were betting odds on this (and please reach us for some side action if you’re interested), the Petal Rack would be the heavy favourite, as it was already crowned the June People’s Choice winner.

And it’s hard to argue with that call. It’s a sleek, pleasing design that looks good when stacked in a row. It also has the necessary Vancouverness that the contest covets. If this is ultimately the winner, Vancouverites should be pleased.

Mountains
Credit: City of Vancouver
  1. North Shore Mountains

From the designer: My design plays tribute to the North Shore mountain range. This playful design can work as one, or using multiple racks to create the depth of a mountain range. The design is simple and beautiful, mirroring our sky line.

Rain, trees and birds can all claim differing degrees of “capturing Vancouver’s essence,” but let’s be honest: if you need to what direction you’re going in the city, you look for the mountains.

Maybe we just tend to get lost pretty often, but there’s no denying that this design clearly represents where we live.

As the designer writes, it also works using multiple racks. It’s a winning design. Unless it loses, we suppose. 

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