ART
Morgana Matus

The Abandoned Bike Project Showcases NYC’s Neglected Bicycles as Art

by , 08/29/12

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Abandoned bicycles are a common sight on the streets of New York City, but now these forgotten eyesores are being given a second life as artwork through the Abandoned Bike Project. Started as a joint venture between WNYC, the city’s Department of Sanitation and the youth service nonprofit Recycle-A-Bicycle, the neglected bikes are currently being displayed in the windows of the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC/WQXR in Manhattan.


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The sight of a disintegrating bicycle left to face the stresses of urban decay alone and unwanted is one that almost all New Yorkers have witnessed for themselves. As symbols of mobility, fun, and energy, the visions of forsaken bicycles provoke a number of questions as to how they lost their riders and became such eyesores. Sensing the stories behind the heaps of metal and rubber, WNYC created an exhibit with bicycles donated by the Department of Sanitation and Recycle-A-Bicycle. As an extension of their reporting series, Transportation Nation’s Abandoned Bike Project provides a new home for the twisted frames and bent spokes as well as a slideshow of disowned bicycles sent in by listeners. Participants are encouraged to submit a geocode along with their photos in an effort to map these bikes across the city.

“One of the most interesting things about this as an art project is how we naturally come up with stories for why a bike is the way it is and how it got that way,” said Alex Goldmark, producer of Transportation Nation. “If you want to spend a few minutes indulging your imagination, you can come up with all kinds of interesting stories for why that ancient blue roadster lost the rubber on its wheels and who rode it and when they rode it.”

When Goldmark made his first appeal to the audience to enter their abandoned bicycle sightings, he expected 50 reports at most. Soon, he received over 500 accounts, some accompanied by confessions of ditching their own bike, and personal accounts of passing the same neighborhood wrecks for years. According to Goldmark and Transportation Nation, most of the city’s bicycles will probably remain sitting in their resting places for a long time to come. The Department of Sanitation removes only those bicycles classified as “derelict”, a label that signifies enough decomposition to consider them garbage. Out of hundreds, only around 40 were liberated this year to make room for functioning cycles to park.

The bikes will remain on display through September 4, 2012 at the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space located at 160 Varick Street in downtown Manhattan. Contributors can send their New York abandoned bike sightings and gather more information on the cycles in their area through the Transportation Nation website.

+ WNYC

+ Transportation Nation

Via Cool Hunting

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