Iowa City to celebrate a new place to park bikes

Bike Downtown Day

Iowa City Downtown — Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 a.m.

Photo via City of Iowa City
Photo via City of Iowa City

Iowa City will unveil a new sculptural bike parklet Friday morning on the corner of Washington and Dubuque Streets. The grand reveal festivities of Bike Downtown Day will start at 7:30 a.m. and include free breakfast and bike-related giveaways.

The creation of the parklet was a partnership between the Iowa City Downtown District and Think Bicycles of Johnson County. The design, called “Play,” by OPN Architects, was selected earlier this year and is devised to hold up to 40 bikes.

The 25-foot long, 8-foot tall bike rack will spell out the word P-L-A-Y in bright colors with a top section “akin to monkey bars,” according to a statement by OPN Architects. It will occupy a space next to the US Bank building that was previously a loading zone.

“The design recognizes Iowa City’s community identity by marrying three functions — public sculpture, community playground and bicycle parking — into one structure. It makes a bold statement with an iconic structure that will create memorable experiences for all ages,” according to the architecture firm’s statement.

Photo via Iowa City Downtown District
Photo via Iowa City Downtown District

According to the request for proposals sent out earlier this year, the city had allocated $20,000 for the design, creation and installation of the parklet.

Iowa City aspires to be more bike-friendly. A strategic plan memo from February included the goal of raising Iowa City’s Bicycle Friendly Community status from Silver to Gold by 2017. The memo also mentions future aspirations to reach the coveted Platinum status, which only five communities throughout the country have achieved. No community has yet reached the exalted Diamond status.

The League of American Bicyclists, which awards the bicycle friendly rankings, currently ranks the state of Iowa 28th nationally among bicycle friendly states. Seven Iowa communities have received bicycle friendly awards, but only Iowa City scored high enough to get a silver; the rest are bronze.

The parklet is part of the city’s efforts to improve bicycle friendliness and infrastructure, according to a city news release. The city is also working on updating its Bike Master Plan, adding more bike lanes and repair stations and expanding its trail system.

People interested in attending the unveiling are encouraged to RSVP through the Bike Downtown Day Facebook Event.

For those interested, a parklet is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a small seating area or green space created as a public amenity on or alongside a pavement, especially in a former roadside parking space.”

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