New Bike Racks from David Byrne


Who knew? David Byrne, famous for “burning down the house” as lead singer of iconic NYC band The Talking Heads, is an avid bicyclist and now policy wonk on transportation policy, giving power point presentations in D.C. Just a few years ago he wrote a book on his tours of global cities by bike: The Bicycle Diariesa book actually worth a read. In 2008, Byrne then partnered with the NYC Department of Transportation on a series of wild bicycle racks. Now, he has created a new set of typographically-funky racks for the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

Byrne stumbled into creating his first public amenities. He had been a judge evaluating bicycle rack submissions and decided to submit his own, which the transportation department “enthusiastically agreed to install.” His first set of nine racks were unveiled across Brooklyn and Manhattan in the locations most appropriate to their design. A spot near Bergdorf Goodman got the high heel rack, while Wall Street got the dollar sign rack. Later, shadows were added to the pavement by a NYC artist, amplifying the effect of these artistic pieces of infrastructure.


Byrne describes how his friends at the Pace Gallery helped make his racks a reality, following the city’s legal guidelines but solving tricky fabrication challenges at the same time. Byrne writes: “It was important to me that these things be the same thickness and material as the existing U- and M-shaped racks — to help identify them as practical bike racks and not modern art. The solution was to weld pieces together and then grind the edges so it perfectly simulated the city racks, though the fabrication process was completely different.”

Just recently, Byrne partnered with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) to complete a new set of typographical bike racks. Brokelyn writes that Byrne realized he could spell out most words using a “semi circle, line, and ‘v’ shape,” so he came up with interesting phrases like “Pink crown” (see at top) and “micro lip” for his first text installation. According to that site, the bike rack words will periodically change. BAM may even poll their visitors to see what words to spell out in rack form next. 


To learn more about Byrne’s love of bikes, check out The Bicycle Diaries.

Image credits: (1) Dino Perucci, (2-4) copyright David Neff, (5) Dino Perucci

2 thoughts on “New Bike Racks from David Byrne

  1. readerareadevelopment 09/05/2012 / 9:04 am

    Those are really cool! Certainly changes the perception of the boring old bike rack.

  2. Hmmmmm 09/11/2012 / 1:21 pm

    I like the creativity but wonder if the public recognizes them as bike racks? I rode with my 10 yr old son to a local chain store near us. He looked around and said there were no bike racks. I showed him the rack, pretty standard Landscape Structure type, and he insisted it was not a bike rack. Even after we locked our bikes to it, he was not certain that we were allowed to use it.

    In NYC , the cyclists lock up to everything, but in other towns some sort of label or signage might be needed. I think first instincts might be that this is art and a functional piece.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s