Functional art proposed for new bike racks
UALR is working to increase opportunities for students to practice sustainable and healthy lifestyles, and school administrators are not the only ones coming up with ideas.
Brian Kennerly, chair of the Staff Senate issues and concerns committee, has been working with the UALR art department and the Office of Development to put in place what he called “functional art.”
The function will come in the form of new bike racks in areas of the campus that either don’t have any bike parking, such as the Jack Stephens Center, or places were bike parking is minimal. Kennerly has come up with 19 proposed spots for the new racks.
“We’re going off of what experts recommend for a college campus,” Kennerly said. “We’re hoping to add racks where they’re needed.”
In a 2009 article, Slate Magazine reported that college campuses should have bike parking for 6 percent of their students, which would equal about 800 spots at UALR. There are currently only 12 racks, which can each park approximately five bikes at any given time. That is about 60 spots.
Kennerly said that not only is the current amount of bike parking inadequate, but the bike racks on campus are no longer considered best for bike security.
“It’s recommended [to have racks] where you can contact the frame of the bicycle at two different points,” he said. “The newer ones over by EIT, those are good.”
The bike racks Kennerly proposes will not only be functional, they will also provide an aesthetic quality to the campus.
“We want to … provide that function,” Kennerly said, “and add personality to the campus.”
Kennerly’s plan will not only fulfill a campus need, but it will also showcase the work of UALR students. Applied design professor John Bruhl will be overseeing the conceptualization and completion of the racks, which will be done by his 3D design class.
Students will go through the creative process, working in groups to come up with designs, then as a class will decide on three or four to present. Facilities Management Associate Vice Chancellor David Millay will have the finalsay on which designs are chosen and where they will be placed around campus.
“Students will be involved in seeing that process, so they also know it works in the industry,” Bruhl said. “This is a very practical application for what they are studying.”
Kennerly said, “I can’t emphasize enough that we want to highlight the work of students.”
Kennerly said this idea came to him because he saw a need for it. “I utilize the back racks,” he said. “I’d see bikes parked by railings, signs … just anywhere.”
Haphazard bike parking such as this can cause problems, including security issues for bike owners, damage to equipment and can pose problems for handicapped people trying to use railings or walkways that may be blocked by bikes. Bruhl said bike racks sometimes can be hard to find, and these new racks provide “an exclamation point” to make them stand out.
So far, Kennerly has raised $2,000 through the Staff Senate and other means. Staff Senate President Brad Patterson said he thinks the idea is a good one, and he is “sure it will move forward.”
The money already raised is enough to create two racks, which Kennerly hopes will be done by Bruhl’s spring 2012 class. He anticipates being able to do two racks a semester. The money will cover the steel needed to build the racks, as well as a spray paint or powder coat finish.
Labor is not in the budget, since students will be doing the work. Also not in the budget for now is installation, which is usually done by facilities management employees, though Kennerly and Bruhl hope students will be able to participate in that process too.
Kennerly is currently working with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and other groups to raise more funding, but the idea will eventually have to be formally presented to Chancellor Joel Anderson.
The new bike racks could not come at a better time for the campus and the city. UALR is working to make the campus more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola recently initiated a “ride your bike to work week.” Bike racks have also been installed on city buses to help cyclists.
Patterson said he thinks the new racks will encourage more students to ride their bikes to school.