Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 24, 2009

Business owners create bike rack that's state of the arc

Downtown pair hopes 'bike arc' will promote urban elegance, parking convenience

by Gennady Sheyner

About a year ago, Jeff Selzer launched an ambitious crusade: to get the bicycles parked in downtown Palo Alto the respect they deserve.

While cars get their own parking lots and long stretches of space along the sidewalks, he noted, bicycles often have to rely on poles, trees and other improvised anchors to protect themselves from thieves. For Selzer, general manager of Palo Alto Bicycles on University Avenue, the status quo paints bikes in a rather undignified light.

"It just looks like a jumble of metal," Selzer said.

Early last year, Selzer teamed up with a local architect — and fellow University Avenue business owner — Joe Bellomo to design a new type of parking structure for bicycles. Bellomo, who specializes in eco-friendly architecture, got to work and, a few months later, the "bike arc" was born.

Though the bike arc now comes in five different designs, some of them going far beyond the "arc" concept, the most basic bike arc is exactly what the name implies. Shaped like a crescent, each arc supports an upright bicycle. The bike stands on an arc in diagonal alignment, with the front wheel pointing toward the sky. More advanced designs include the "umbrella" (a statuesque structure capable of sheltering up to eight arc-locked bikes under a canopy), a "half-arc" (much like a regular arc, but with an extended top that protects bikes from rain) and the "tube arc" (a series of individual bike arcs that form a tube and are capable of housing more than 60 bikes). And then there is the "house arc," a fully enclosed tube composed of bike arcs and other materials.

"Our goal was to come up with something that kind of separates organized bikes and gives them a place of honor, much like we've got with cars," Selzer said.

While businesses throughout Palo Alto and the nation at large — are struggling to stay afloat amid a recession, Selzer and Bellomo are optimistic about their invention. In fact, they hope the bike arcs could help spruce up downtown Palo Alto and make it a more attractive destination for potential consumers arriving on two wheels.

So far, Selzer said, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive. Plans are under way to include two half-arc structures in a renovated Lytton Plaza, a project spearheaded by a group of downtown business owners. And Selzer said he's been fielding calls from outside Palo Alto, including Michigan State University and a city in Southern California. Ultimately, Selzer and Bellomo hope to bring the new structures to supermarkets and to Silicon Valley companies with bike-friendly campuses.

The partners have also been talking to a manufacturer in Oregon who would build the structures.

Bellomo said he wanted to create a design that would allow the new structures to be built in a modular fashion, with few layers and easy-to-acquire materials. The bike arc, he said, is very easy for builders to understand.

The goals of the new design are two-fold, he said: to promote bicycling and to create a clean and elegant urban setting. The arc, he said, fulfills both.

"The genesis of the idea was based on how we can value the bike and have a light footprint in an urban environment," Bellomo said.

The arc designs are displayed at the company's site, www.bikearc.com.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by bike commuter, a resident of Ventura
on Apr 24, 2009 at 8:42 am

Stunning!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2009 at 8:57 am

Great idea, can we have some of them around Palo Alto please?


Posted by Sarah, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2009 at 9:28 am

Encouraging bicycling around town is much cheaper than building new roads, and also creates less pollution and less noise. However, lots of new bike lanes don't do much good if there is no secure bicycle parking when you are at work or shopping or at restaurant. Please build secure bicycle parking near every business in Palo Alto. This has to be a lot cheaper than building new parking lots for cars.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Some questions.

1. Where do you park a tandem bike with one of these?
2. What are the potential injuries when someone walks or skateboards into the arc section of the rack?
3. What's the cost per bike? Weight per rack?


Posted by RS, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2009 at 9:09 pm

What stops someone from stealing the front wheel?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Give the guys a break. Sounds like a great idea - howcome no pictures?


Posted by Sarah, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm

The web site mentioned in the original article has photos and videos.

There is a big red disk adjacent to the front wheel to prevent thieves from messing with your quick release. A cable lock could give you extra security.


Posted by RS, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Yeah it looked like I could still release the front wheel, though, so I asked the question.
The demo is of someone using a U bar lock, but I do realize I could use a cable lock and I would.
They are more attractive and space efficient than a typical rack.


Posted by Sarah, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2009 at 6:26 pm

If businesses were reluctant to install bicycle racks because previous designs were too ugly, now they have no excuse.


Posted by AC, a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm

would like to see a photo of this...


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