New bike parklet to be unveiled Friday in Iowa City

'Playful' downtown rack can hold up to 40 bicycles

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IOWA CITY — As part of an initiative to make the downtown area more bicycle friendly, Iowa City officials on Friday plan to unveil a unique and colorful piece of the plan.

As part of Bike Downtown Day, the public is invited to the space in front of US Bank near the corner of Washington and Dubuque streets, where a new bike parklet — a rack designed to hold up to 40 bicycles — has been installed.

The celebration takes place from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and includes bike-related giveaways, pastries and coffee. Those who wish to attend or ride their bikes downtown Friday are asked to RSVP on the “Bike Downtown Day” Facebook event.

“It’s really cool to see it come to fruition,” said Nate Kaeding, retail development director for the Iowa City Downtown District. “It is a part of the city’s larger initiative to make the downtown more bike friendly.”

The parklet was designed by OPN Architects of Cedar Rapids. It is pink and spells out the word, “Play.”

Kaeding called the parklet unique and “playful, with no pun intended.”

This particular bike parklet was selected in part because it can be interactive and a visual cue to those downtown that the city is supportive of bicycles. Kaeding said projects like this hopefully helps reduce the number of vehicles downtown and the burden on parking ramps.

Chris O’Brien, the city’s director of transportation services, said Iowa City has budgeted for several different bicycle projects. City officials have been working to install bike lanes and develop a bicycle master plan, in addition to the parklet.

“(It’s) just one of those projects to help as we look to increase not just awareness but actual bicycle traffic in the area,” O’Brien said.

Architects designed the parklet with the idea the city could place them throughout downtown and spell out different words. O’Brien said the success of the parklet and any possibility of growth is to be determined by the feedback Iowa City officials receive from downtown businesses groups that have an interest in bicycles.

Kaeding expects the parklet to be up for about a month before the city stores it away for winter.

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