Curve Your Wheels

Curve Your Wheels

A Bike Arc prototype in Palo Alto.
Stirling Elemendorf

Cities across the country are investing in bicycling infrastructure, but the workaday inverted, U-shaped bike racks remain the standard in most places. That may change if the partners in the new Bike Arc storage system have their way, and their new modular rack is flexible and compact enough to be a contender for widespread use. A few prototypes were installed in downtown Palo Alto in January, and more will be installed in Palo Alto and Redwood City, California next week.

The racks Integrated into a bus stop.
An enclosed bicycle shelter using the arc system.
COURTESY Bellomo Architects

The racks are the result of a partnership between Jeff Seltzer, a bike retailer and advocate, and Joseph Bellomo, principal of Palo Alto–based Bellomo Architects. “We wanted to give bikes more respect and organize them in a more attractive way,” Seltzer said. The two had previously worked together on the Palo Alto Bikestation at the Caltrain depot, so they were aware of the limitations of existing rack and storage systems.

The Bike Arc is a simple curved unit that combines the space-saving quality of hanging systems with a much easier to maneuver roll-in-place design. The units can be configured in a variety of ways to suit different urban conditions: standing alone as the circular umbrella arc; incorporated into bus shelters; or fully covered in the double-loaded tube design. “That is part of the attraction for cities. You can get more bikes on the rack without taking up a lot of space on the sidewalk,” Selzer said.

As an added bonus, the design makes it more difficult to steal the bike’s wheels.

“The goal is to use as little materials as possible, to have a light footprint in the city,” Bellomo said. The project, he added, has been a positive way to diversify his practice. As he put it, “You can’t patent a building.”

Bike Arcs are currently in build-to-order production through an Oregon steel fabricator, and other cities, including San Francisco and Long Beach, California are considering installing the systems.