While walking down a street in Portland, Ore., Roger Stafford stared at what he first thought was simply a statue of eyeglasses in front of an optometrist's office. Then, he realized it was a bike rack.

"I thought, 'These are unique. We should do it in Lodi,'" he said. "They grabbed your attention, and they were being used."

So he brought back the idea to Lodi's Art Advisory Board, which manages the city's developer-funded public art money. The committee agreed to putting one rack each at Kofu Park, Lodi Lake and in front of the Salvation Army.

The Lodi City Council signed off on the project Wednesday night, so the board will be looking for original designs from local artists in the next month.

The racks will likely be metal projects because metal lasts longer than other materials and it easy to waterproof, chairwoman Cathy Metcalf said.

If the three bike racks are successful, the board hopes to see if other local businesses will sponsor racks in front of their buildings. For example, a dentist could have a toothbrush and floss rack.

"It's inexpensive public art that is also green," Metcalf said. "It encourages you to get on your bike instead of getting in your car."

It will cost $11,550 in Art in Public Places money to pay for the project. The money is provided through developer impact fees and is put in a fund solely for public art projects. As of Aug. 1, the entire fund had $168,100.

Artists will receive $2,000 as a stipend for the design and to pay for supplies, Metcalf said. The rest of the money will be used to pay for the installation, which includes pouring cement pads, bolting the racks down and making sure they meet city codes.

The three locations were selected based on where people tend to ride bikes, Metcalf said.

"There is apparent need at the sites and we also wanted to make sure they will get seen," she said.

The council approved the project with only one comment. Councilman Bob Johnson said that in the future, the city should consider whether the transit budget should also help pay for the racks, since they promote riding bikes.

"It doesn't seem fair when we promulgate a concept in the community that we put it on the back of one department and not others," he said.

Stafford, who also saw artistic bike racks in Hawaii, described the racks as functional art, so it makes it well-suited project for the Art Advisory Board.

"For me they are art, but you can also park a bicycle in front of them," he said.

The Art in Public Places board will post information soon about designs they would like to see for the project at www.lodi.gov. They will also send out information to local students and an email list of artists the city has worked with in the past.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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