Hamilton rolling out artistic bike racks

The shock absorber bike rack was donated by Thyssenkrupp Bilstein and will be mounted at the trailhead to the Great Miami River recreational trail. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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The shock absorber bike rack was donated by Thyssenkrupp Bilstein and will be mounted at the trailhead to the Great Miami River recreational trail. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

There are birds. There’s a paper plane. Two skeletons and a skeleton key. A shock absorber — like the kind made in Hamilton — plus a guitar and a painter’s palette.

Those are some of the first decorative bicycle racks being rolled out in Hamilton, which peddles the image of the Butler County seat as not only artistic, but also an active place to work, play and live.

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Taylor Welch, who is vice president at the non-profit City of Sculpture organization and also architecture and interiors intern at the Community Design Alliance, said the 14 artworks will be installed in coming days, mostly in Hamilton’s downtown area or on Main Street.

“Most of them are going to be in the downtown neighborhood,” Welch said. “In this first round, most of the sponsors wanted them to be in this area, just because I think we have a need downtown for bike racks, but also, it feels like a bigger impact when you have 10 of them within one neighborhood, than to have all of them all over.”

He hopes those created in the near future will be installed in parks or at schools.

The family of Hamilton’s Dr. Walter Zancan, an orthopaedic surgeon, suggested a skeleton or rib cage, and chose a design Welch conjured of a pair of skeletons. Thyssenkrupp Bilstein, which manufactures highly-tunable shock absorbers, went with … a shock absorber.

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The City of Sculpture organization had wanted to launch the program for several years, but had difficulty finding sponsors, and taking other steps to make the project happen.

“I visited a lot of local metal-fabrication shops to see if they could build these, and it took a while to find the manufacturer that could make bike racks that we knew could be high-quality and be able to withstand being out in the weather and being used,” Welch said.

An early idea was to have local artists build the racks as sculptures, “but we were worried that people wouldn’t know to use them as a bike rack, or that they would not hold up to people running into them with bikes, or the weather.”

A Middletown company came closest to being able to create the racks, but an out-of-state company that specializes in making them was chosen.

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The company that was chosen, Dero, out of Minneapolis, exclusively makes such racks for bike trails. Many of the racks were designed by Welch or others in Hamilton. With some designs, Dero employees suggested sturdier designs, or ones that could be produced less expensively because the company already had created similar ones.

Hamilton’s Parks Conservancy is installing the racks free of charge.

Sponsorships for the racks were lined up by Leadership Hamilton, an organization created by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. The leadership group’s 25th class sponsored two racks, while the 26th class sponsored another and arranged the other sponsorships.

Ten of the 14 racks cost $1,500, with more complex designs costing $2,000 or $2,500. City of Sculpture provides a plaque for each bike rack with the sponsor’s name and information about the project. That includes a small fee for administrative costs borne by the group.

Racks that are created by company or organization logos — such as that of Miami University — must go in front of their organization’s locations.

People or groups wanting to sponsor future bike racks can contact Welch at taylor@cdalliance.net.


Here are the bike rack designs in Hamilton, along with their sponsors:

  • Zancan Family — Skeletons
  • Barclaycard — Paper Plane
  • Hamilton Parks Conservancy — Bird
  • Butler Tech — Guitar
  • Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities — Painter's Palette
  • Pike Family — Pike
  • Community First Solutions — Rings
  • Thyssenkrupp Bilstein — Shock Absorber
  • Fort Hamilton Hospital — Kettering logo
  • Miami Hamilton — Miami logo
  • Primary Health Solutions — Company logo
  • Leadership Hamilton Class 26 — Great Dane
  • Leadership Hamilton Class 25 — Owl
  • Leadership Hamilton Class 25 — Skeleton Key

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