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Quebec City's New, Over-Designed Bike Racks Cost a Staggering $18,000 Each

Québec à vélo bike rack by Para-Sol
Québec à vélo bike rack by Para-Sol
Photo: Para-Sol

Making a bustling city more bike-friendly can be a good way to cut down on traffic and congestion. But while introducing dedicated bicycle lanes to existing roads can be an expensive upgrade, adding more bike racks shouldn’t be, which is why cyclists in Quebec City, Quebec, are miffed that the city is adding just seven of them at a cost of $165,000 CDN. That comes out to about $18,000 USD each.

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Québec à vélo by Para-Sol (left) and ABCyclette by Hatem+D Architecture (left).
Québec à vélo by Para-Sol (left) and ABCyclette by Hatem+D Architecture (left).
Photo: Para-Sol & Hatem+D Architecture

Two years ago, the city commissioned designers to create a unique bike rack that was not only functional, but also an aesthetically-pleasing addition to Quebec City’s historic neighborhoods. As the CBC reports, of the 18 submissions received, two were selected as finalists: Québec à vélo, a wood and metal design by Para-Sol, and ABCyclette by Hatem+D Architecture, which uses the rack’s metal tubing to spell out the names of local landmarks.

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Each firm received $30,000 CDN for the full rights to their respective designs, and to produce a single prototype, but the money didn’t stop there. Four semi-finalists were awarded $10,000 CDN each for their contributions, five jury members were paid $2,000 CDN for their assistance, and $35,000 CDN has been allocated to produce five racks based on whichever rack is selected as the winner of the contest. And because this is Canada, an additional $20,000 CDN was claimed by taxes.

Industrial design doesn’t come cheap, and creating something that balances form and function often requires input from experienced and talented designers. But the CBC crunched the numbers and calculated that the new racks will essentially each cost the city $2,950 CDN per bike spot—which is undoubtedly far more expensive than most of the bikes that will get locked up on them. Even if you think most bike racks are eyesores, they’re still better than staring at a street jammed with angry, honking motorists. And for $165,000 CDN, Quebec City could have done much more to accommodate cyclists.

[CBC via Core77]

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DISCUSSION

First, the headline should be specific. Is that Canadian or US dollars in the headline? Second, why would you include the tax cost? That didn’t cost the city anything, in fact you should deduct the taxes as that is revenue that goes back to the city. So it’s not $165 CDN it’s more like $145-20 returned by taxes. Also do these taxes factor in taxes paid by the companies from their awards or paid by the individuals for their jury duty?

Likewise the payments for prototypes and jury members are one time cost. That will get amortized over all the bike racks the city ultimately purchases so including it now is misleading.

which is undoubtedly far more expensive than most of the bikes that will get locked up on them.

If you’re worried about cost then how about all those traffic lanes that get re-purposed for bicycles only? I’m certain the cost of those lanes are far more expensive than any of the bikes that use them. I don’t think your statement is a valid concern, especially when you look at the actual cost of the rack is $2,950 CDN or about $2200 US. With 6-8 bikes per rack at $300-400 per bike or more the racks in fact don’t cost more than the bikes locked up.