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August 07, 2021

PPA launches design competition for 'out-of-the-box' bike racks to prevent illegal parking in the city

The program is backed by the Philadelphia Fire Department and other city officials

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Bike Rack Competition Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The Philadelphia Parking Authority is launching a bike rack design program to provide more parking for cyclists and prevent illegal parking near fire hydrants.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority is looking for local designers to pitch their ideas for new bike racks around the city.

The "Rack 'Em Up" bike parking competition, dubbed "Philly Racks," is geared toward both providing a place for cyclists to park their bikes safely and preventing vehicles from illegally parking in front of fire hydrants. 

This parking is a public safety issue, officials say, because it can block firefighters' access to the hydrants in emergency situations. The PPA writes 30,000 to 40,000 tickets on vehicles illegally parked in front of fire hydrants around the city each year, Billy Penn reported.

The city is looking for local designers to pitch "out-of-the-box" prototype fire hydrant-accessible bike corrals placed in the parking lane rather than on the sidewalk. 

“Fire hydrants are a ‘no man’s land,’” PPA executive director Clarena Tolson told Billy Penn. “The goal is innovative use of the public space, but also providing for voluntary compliance of the traffic code.”

The city said it was inspired by a similar, five-year-old program in Copenhagen, which is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.

Officials say there is $10,000 in funding available for the project, though it could expand if the prototype is deemed successful and mass-produce bike racks across the city.

Applications for the program will be accepted through Sept. 22 and five designers will be announced as finalists. The city will select the winning design in October.

At least two corals designed by the winner will be installed, in West Philly and Old City, by the end of the year, and the winner will receive up to $3,500.

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