Progress Made On Decorative Bike Racks For Downtown Berlin

BERLIN – Officials with the Berlin Arts and Entertainment District want to incorporate decorative bike racks around town and are working with local businesses and government officials to construct designs that will be presented to the historic district commission later in the year.

Heather Layton, chair of the non-profit, said the group has just begun the first stages of what will be a multi-step process in placing three bike racks throughout the town of Berlin.

Members of a committee within the Arts and Entertainment District are in the process of measuring spaces around town and ensuring potential bike rack locations will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Layton.

Dave Engelhart, the town’s planning director, said walkways must be a minimum of 36 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers and added that the structures may have to sit on pieces of landscaping to avoid blocking narrow pathways.

“They may find a piece of sidewalk that can incorporate a bike rack,” he said. “but when they add a bike to it, probably not.”

Ivy Wells, economic and community development director for the town of Berlin, said she initially approached the non-profit about designing artistic bike racks in an effort to incorporate unique, yet functional, structures around town.

“Obviously we are trying to encourage people to walk and bike downtown,” she said. “So when we originally started working on custom bike racks to bring the Arts and Entertainment District in town, we wanted to take our time.”

Wells said three plain bike racks have already been installed near the Visitor’s Center, Baked Dessert Café and The Globe and will serve the town’s immediate needs until designs from the Arts and Entertainment District are approved.

“To add anything downtown there is a process that has to be followed,” she said. Because it’s in the historic district, it must meet the historic district guidelines. Most of the historic district guidelines are about the material that it is made out of.”

To select, and potentially implement, the designs, Layton said the non-profit is working with Jordan Pippin of Steel N Glory and Garry Moore of Anchor Wood Creations.

She said those involved with the bike racks’ designs are currently playing with different ideas.

Moore, whose business focuses on salvaging metal and reclaimed wood, said he hopes the project will incorporate recycled materials as a means of upcycling.

“We are hoping we can add some of those elements to the design if we can,” he said. “I bought a couple of metal anchors at an auction and sent a picture of them and (Layton) said they would make wonderful bike racks. But we are very much in the early stages of it.”

Layton said they would like to place bike racks on the north and south ends of town, as well as in a central location, and Wells added that they will possibly need to work with private property owners to install the structures, as sidewalks along Main Street are governed by the State Highway Administration.

Engelhart said this will be the second or third go-around in trying to install bike racks in town, but added that the historic district commission would get behind the project if the designs complement the area.

“Everyone wants something that goes with downtown and with the Arts and Entertainment District,” he said. “We will see what they come up with.”

Layton said she hopes the designs will be finished and approved by the historic district commission in the spring.

Wells said the non-profit could find grant money to fund the project, but Layton said those interested in donating money to the bike racks can do so by visiting and clicking “Donate.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.