New Philly Bike Racks Blend Form, Function, Fire Hydrant Access

The clever designs serve multiple purposes — providing more bike parking while getting cars out of illegal parking spaces.

Judging of the

Judging of the “Rack Em Up” bike rack competition in Philly. The AECOM prototype is visible in the foreground, followed by Team Sophon, followed by Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. (Photo courtesy Rack 'Em Up Committee)

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Starting soon, you might see new bike racks coming to Philly.

A competition to “reimagine bike parking” has declared a winner — a bike rack with a solar-powered shelter, motion-sensitive security, and protective bollards, per a press release from the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

The PPA’s “Rack ‘em Up” competition sought ideas from the public to build a bike rack that would serve multiple purposes, the release said: First, it would provide more bike parking in a city that lacks it. Second, the racks would be placed in the street, rather than the sidewalk, and they were designed to be located in front of a fire hydrant — preventing a car from illegally parking there. The city has issued more than 30,000 parking tickets to cars blocking fire hydrants this year, the release said, and in an actual emergency, firefighters usually have to break an illegally parked car’s window to reach a hydrant. Thus, a bike corral that maintains hydrant access solves two problems at once, the release said.

Team Sophon's prototype bike rack (Photo courtesy Rack 'Em Up Committee)

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 17 teams entered the contest, 5 were shortlisted, and three were ultimately selected as finalists.

The winning Team Sophon, all students at Thomas Jefferson University’s masters in industrial design program, designed a modular bike rack that looks a bit like a shopping cart corral — it has a roof and two sides, and protective bollards that guide riders to the parking area and signal to drivers to slow down. Solar panels on the roof light up the shelter at night, serving as a beacon to both cyclists and fire trucks.

Second place-winners Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. designed a soft pretzel-shaped rack, and in third place, AECOM designed a three-sided enclosure inspired by Philly’s rivers.

The soft-pretzel prototype bike rack (Photo courtesy Rack 'Em Up Committee)

According to an article in Billy Penn, the winning design will be built and installed in at least two locations, one in West Philly and one in Old City. It’s too soon to say whether the design will be reproduced citywide, Billy Penn reported.

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Rachel Kaufman is Next City's senior editor, responsible for our daily journalism. She was a longtime Next City freelance writer and editor before coming on staff full-time. She has covered transportation, sustainability, science and tech. Her writing has appeared in Inc., National Geographic News, Scientific American and other outlets.

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Tags: philadelphiaparkingbike

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