The Indignity of Bicycle Parking: Nashville

First of all: credit where credit is due – I first learned of this vital story from the ladies at Let’s Go Ride A Bike.

It seems that the Metro Nashville Arts Commission solicited submissions for artist-designed bike racks that “…may be inspired by Nashville’s history, culture or natural features and assets. Designs should carefully balance form with function and must comply with national bicycle parking standards.”  13 of 14 bike racks have various degrees of functionality and interest as art objects. Then there’s “Corn and Tomato” by Paige Easter and Dan Goostree. I don’t know about these supposed “national standards” but evidently the artist didn’t bother walking to any bike rack and observing how a cyclist might actually lock their bike to it. Here’s the concept drawing.

The “corn” section seems to work well, but the tomato – not so much. Luckily, the good people of Nashville have a crack news team at WSMV to cover this total waste of YOUR TAXPAYER DOLLLARS THAT YOU WORKED HARD TO EARN.

Here’s the tomato slices from a distance:

This is placed outside of farmers’ market – so not bad really as far as contextualized public art goes. The “corn” section even looks like it would function well as a bike rack:

Some nice loops, well spaced in order to allow a bike on each side. Not bad, really. But here’s a close up of the tomato:

You can’t even fit an OnGuard cable through there! I’m guessing that the last time Goostree or Easter locked a bike it was outside their grade school and they used a flimsy little lock that was popular before the advent of the U-lock like 20 years ago.

All journalists are required by law to find an “expert” and what better expert than a group of people competing in a bicycle race?

I can assure you that that particular bike has never been within 20 feet of a bike rack unless she left it in the back of her BMW X5 on the day that the race started at the farmers’ market. On second thought, she wouldn’t leave it back there – the sun could damage the carbon fiber.

If not the racers, how about a bike messenger, those guys are always locking and unlocking their bikes, right? Let’s talk to this guy:

He’s got the look, right? No helmet, messenger bag with cell phone holder, tube-like objects sticking out of the bag. Totally a messenger.

He deftly demonstrates how to use a U-lock. But wait, what’s that on his rear wheel? It’s… it’s a cassette with more than one gear! And what’s that thing hanging down off of the frame? My god, it’s a derailleur! I’m starting to doubt this guy’s credentials as a bike messenger.

Reporter Nancy Amons wraps up the story by confronting an arts commissioner with the claim that a cyclist tried to warn the commission during the design phase that the sculpture could not be used as a functional bike rack.

Despite the fact that she looks like my Gramma, I don’t trust this lady.

In all seriousness, I hate the framing device that WFMV uses in this story, the ever popular “Your tax dollars at work – being wasted for bullshit art.” I actually love the idea that the arts commission decided to create public art that is functional. It’s just amazing that the artist would create something with a specific function in mind, but not actually talk to anyone who might use it. Maybe it would be better to use that $100,000 to buy dozens of purely functional bike racks instead of 14 works of dubiously functional art. But really, $7,000 for each rack is not so bad for public art. It sure beats my hometown’s Modern Communication

Get it? It's called "Modern Communication" because he's like, not able to communicate.

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One response to “The Indignity of Bicycle Parking: Nashville

  1. Priceless! I love it.

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