We’re all about making the world a more sustainable and healthier place through thoughtful urban design and sustainable transportation. So we got a special kick out of a recent public project in San Francisco that transformed a single car parking spot on the corner of Fell and Divisadero into a bike parking corral for 12 bikes with a vibrant, colorful street mural underfoot.
We caught up with the mastermind behind this bike corral mural, Eric Tuvel (pictured above). Read on for more about Eric, how this project came about, and how you can implement a bike corral mural in your city.
PUBLIC: You’re both a visual designer and a bicycle advocate? Tell us more about your background.
Eric: My background in Graphic Design started in undergrad, which is where I started commuting by bike to class and to get around campus. As I pursued my master’s degree in City & Regional Planning, I began applying my design background to cities and commuting by bike became more about shaping how people move around the city. Before joining the SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) as a Transportation Planner in the Sustainable Streets division, I was the Design and Program Manager at the SF Bicycle Coalition. It was there I got more involved in advocacy and the biking community of San Francisco and fused my design/planning background with my love for biking.
PUBLIC: What was the inspiration behind this bike corral mural concept?
Eric: In my first position at the SFMTA I managed the bicycle parking program. As I started siting and surveying for sidewalk racks and on-street corrals, I started to see the various ways people tried to bring art into these bike parking facilities. Talking with my coworker one day, the idea just hit us and we thought, “What about painting a mural underneath the corral on the street?” It was really serendipitous.
Once the idea was planted in my head, I was determined.
I started running it by staff at various city agencies to get the approvals I needed. As for the mural that was installed, it was done by Bay Area artist Kristin Farr. She selected colors from the streetscape at the location to come up with the palette for the piece. She was selected by the sponsor, Madrone Art Bar, and was great to work with on the project. The piece is titled “Diamonds on Divis”.
PUBLIC: What were the major challenges to getting this bike corral mural implemented?
Eric: The major challenge was creating a process for something that hasn’t been done before. The main thing I did was talk to as many people as I could and loop in all the city departments and stakeholders I could think of. It’s a really positive project so overall everyone was supportive but there were some small concerns we were able to work through and got everyone on board. The other unforeseen challenge was the weather! Scheduling a time to paint was a little tricky with the recent fits and starts of rain we’ve had.
PUBLIC: How is this project funded?
Eric: “Diamonds on Divis” was funded privately by the Madrone Art Bar. They applied for a corral in 2015 and we approved the location. When I came up with the idea, I thought Madrone was the perfect partner for the first one as the corral wasn’t installed yet and Madone is an art bar. I brought the idea to Michael Krouse, the owner, and he was on board right away. I feel lucky that we had a partner that was so easy to work with and was supportive from the beginning.
PUBLIC: If you’re an art and bicycle enthusiast outside of San Francisco, what should this person do to replicate a bike corral mural in another city?
Eric: First, learn more about what the city process is for something like this. Start with the department that installs bike parking in the city. The process might not be clear, but be persistent and keep talking to folks. Don’t be discouraged by how long it might take because the results are worth the work.
PUBLIC: What’s next to expand this concept to other parts of San Francisco?
Eric: The next steps would be to evaluate the current bike corral mural, or “bikelet” as I’ve been calling it, over the next few months, primarily to see how it holds up to the elements. We are definitely interested in expanding the program and partnering with other organizations. We encourage interested organizations to contact us and we will be looking into proactively outreaching to businesses that are applying for or already have bicycle corrals. If people are interested they can contact Bikeparking@sfmta.com.