There are abandoned bikes in every city — locked to poles long after their owners lost their lock keys or moved away — and often they are ticketed for being left behind. A group of renegade bike warriors in Toronto have found a way to turn those forgotten bikes into green street art, and after an initial pushback from City Hall they’ve now got Toronto’s government on their side. It all started when a Toronto woman spray painted an abandoned bike neon red and then planted its basket. After the city ticketed the bike, a few citizens roared in protest by starting The Good Bike Project — and over time the local government has thrown in its hat and started working with the group to take the idea and spread it citywide.
The city of Toronto is now making available hundreds of abandoned bikes they have in store for The Good Bike Project to revamp and lock to posts and poles around the city. The bikes will each mark a meaningful spot where “the ethos of regeneration and community … sparked our creativity in the first place.” The first bike was planted outside of the OCAD U Student Gallery, a school dedicated to art and design, and as the art installations grow, more design oriented sites around the city will be graced with these urban recycling installations.
“By accepting support from the City on this initiative, we’re hoping to start a conversation about urban planning, biking and public art in Toronto” the group notes on their Facebook page. The mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, seems to be on board, and recently he spoke about his excitement about seeing the project grow: “it certainly will be exciting when these bikes appear around Toronto this summer,” he said. This art project is one that not only adds a little spunk to the city streets and reuses a previously abandoned resource but allows passersby to rethink the public art scene as a grassroots movement. “The positive reaction that the bike has received is certainly evidence of the thirst for public art in Toronto.”