The feedback on these bike racks has been great to hear – the good and the not so good. These were designed and created by the leadership group that was formed as part of the Ford Family Leadership Program. This cohort was made up of over 20 people from our community – city councilors, planning commission members, business owners, and a cross section of other residents.
This first cohort of the Leadership program worked on this project for almost a year – from designing to fundraising to installation. When the Council recommended cuts be made to the 1st Avenue Project, this group saw an opportunity to help out by taking on the bicycle racks. Our community members raised their portion of the funds through selling “I Heart Canby” shirts. They also secured a very generous donation of materials from local business American Steel. All in all this was a zero cost to the city of Canby to install.
With the installation of the new bicycle racks, we removed the old black metal bike racks downtown to be refabricated into new bike racks to be used at the local schools. With the school district deciding to have students that lived within a mile of their schools walk, this has also increased the amount of bicycle riders to school. This increase has led to over flowing bike racks at many of the schools. So, with school budgets tight and no funds to purchase new ones, the city is able to help out.
Another component of this is the public art aspect that this creates for our downtown and around the city. A little personal insight on my family – I am married to an amazing woman who studied Art History at the University of Washington and did graduate work in New York City. So she knows a few more, okay a lot more, things than I do about art.
During all the feedback that had been coming in, she made the comment that “public art does two things: it makes people think differently about the space they live, work, and play in. It also creates conversation.”
Well, this project has done these two things and brought people to our downtown. When I asked for feedback on my Mayor Facebook page there were over 60 comments. I have had people tell me their thoughts at the grocery store, Chamber of Commerce functions, and the local chocolate and wine bar. I am glad something like this has created so much conversation…and brought people into our downtown to take a look at them.
As I delivered my statement, I wanted to make sure that with all the constructive feedback, that people know this project was executed by members of our community. They worked very hard on this project. Nobody likes to be criticized for work, especially when you are volunteering. While candor is appreciated in all areas of volunteer projects, tact should also be exercised.
I closed my statement by stating that the city will be keeping these in place for now because people worked hard on this and it is doing what they intended – create conversation, make us think differently about our public space, and that people are coming downtown to see the bike racks. Hopefully those visitors downtown that come to look at and/or use the bike racks, stay awhile for lunch, a cup of coffee, and see what Canby has to offer.