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Combining Public Art and Infrastructure: Coeur d'Alene, ...

Combining Public Art and Infrastructure: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho's Bike Racks

Combining infrastructure and public art is something I’m passionate about. It just seems so obvious, both aesthetically and financially, to combine the two harmoniously. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has accomplished just that. Coeur d’Alene (“KOR-duh-LANE”) Idaho is about a forty-five-minute drive East on I-90 from Spokane, Washington. The two cities and their suburbs are considered the same metro area

Combining infrastructure and public art is something I’m passionate about. It just seems so obvious, both aesthetically and financially, to combine the two harmoniously. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has accomplished just that.

Coeur d’Alene (“KOR-duh-LANE”) Idaho is about a forty-five-minute drive East on I-90 from Spokane, Washington. The two cities and their suburbs are considered the same metro area by the Census Bureau, as of 2011. Both share commuters, tourists, and bargain shoppers alike.

The "bike wheel" rack near the shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene

As a part of a midtown place-making project, the Coeur d’Alene Arts Commission sent out a Call to Artists for four free-standing sculptures that could be used as public bike racks. Citizens, major players, and Arts Commission members all weighed in and voted to narrow down eight finalists. The project was so successful, the Arts Commission called for three more bike racks.

There’s everything from a four-foot-tall steel octopus (shown), to a fish skeleton, a giant bike chain and wheel (latter shown), and a couple of abstract pieces as well.

The five-foot tall octopus rack

While the cost of the bike racks/sculptures is not public knowledge, I'm confident that the investment was well worth it as there's nothing else like it in the Inland Northwest. Standard bike racks next to public art pieces would have been more expensive, taken more public space, and wouldn't have been nearly as positive for the community- I'm convinced of it.

Coeur d'Alene's other public art sculptures are a part of a sort of "gallery." The works are allowed to age in the elements, but are accompanied by a small plaque stating their price and who to contact if you'd like to buy them for your own.

Anyone who goes through Coeur d’Alene today sees these huge, memorable and quirky bike racks/public art pieces. The racks certainly give a great cultural vibe to the neighborhoods they serve - whether you’re a bicyclist or not.

How has your city tackled public art creatively? Tell us in the comments below!

 Credits: Data linked to sources. Images taken by Aascot Holt.

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Aascot Holt is an undergraduate at Eastern Washington University, pursuing a major in Urban and Regional Planning and a minor in Geography. She will graduate in the spring of 2013. She is from Stevenson, WA and currently lives in Spokane, WA in a bri...

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