22 August 2014

When Your Rack Is Not "U"

When I first started cycling "long" distances (i.e., 40 km) four decades ago, you locked your bike with some combination of a lock with a chain or cable.

And you crossed your fingers.

Locks could be picked or broken; chains and cables cut or snapped.  Thieves figured out that the loops at the end of most cables could be twisted off almost as easily as a cap off a bottle of Coke.

Then, much as Drs. Montagnier and Gallo did work that got each of them credited, by different groups of people, with the same discovery, a bicycle mechanic and an MIT engineering student each created a different--and, each of them claims, the first-- version of something nearly every urban cyclist uses today.

I'm talking about the U-shaped lock.  One legend has it that the original Kryptonite lock--which looked, more than anything else, like a medieval torture device--was conceived in the brain of a young bike mechanic as a young female customer complained of having her bike stolen.  The other says the MIT student conceived of the Citadel lock as his senior thesis project. 

The ubiquitous U-shaped lock influenced another aspect of urban cycling:  parking racks.  For a time, it seemed that all newly-installed bike parking racks looked like Citadel or Kryptonite locks missing their crossbars.  Or, if you like, they looked like Breuer-inspired tombstones rising from concrete sidewalks. 

But now it seems that those bike racks are taking on new shapes:

At Grand Hope Park, Los Angeles

Should you lock your bike or hitch your horse to them?  

If they installed this rack just a little bit further to the left, there'd be no need for a lock:

That was a University of California-San Diego student's project.  Hmm...I wonder what sort of career this portends.

On the other hand, some designer took the slogan, "Make Love, Not War" to heart:

If love is your thing, maybe you want to ride on a covered bridge--or, perhaps, an un-covered one:

Or, perhaps, it could be Breuer's take on a certain Norwegian's painting.

When it comes to turning utilitarian objects into art, leave it to an Australian to come up with something new and interesting:

But, if you prefer that your bicycle storage racks unambiguously announce their function, here's one for you:

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