14 January 2009

When architects design bike parking

There's a small exhibition of innovative bike parking ideas until 30 Jan at New London Architecture, just off Tottenham Court Road.

Some ideas are good. The Plantlock, for example (above right): half cycle parking, half herbaceous border. Once filled with compost, the Plantlock weighs a ton and provides secure stationing for two bikes.

We've got one at the front of our house, and it's ideal for guests who arrive on a bike, and who prefer fresh tomatoes and herbs with their dinner. Unfortunately it's also popular as a latrine with the local foxes. When you come to our house, best avoid the salad.

Other ideas are more what you'd expect from architects. In other words, stylish, expensive, and hopelessly impractical.

These folding handlebars (right), for instance: they narrow the width of a parked bike, which may be important if your bike is stored somewhere cramped such as a hallway, but they add lots of weight and bar clutter. Especially when you're only an allen key away from turning the handlebars sideways anyway.

I was quite taken with this impressive-but-pointless cyclist-shaped mirror that goes behind your bike's wall bracket (below right), though I didn't like the reflection very much. There was someone who looked like me, only older.

Anyway, it's worth a visit. And while you're there you can also enjoy one of my favourite unheralded things in London: NLA's huge permanent plastic model of central London (below).

It features every building down to house size in grey plastic. All those planned buildings with the now-obligatory silly names (the Cheesegrater, Glass Shard, Pinnacle, Mobile Phone, etc) are there too, in white.

I'm surprised it's not better known. After being featured on this blog, it still won't be.

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