David Byrne Designs Bike Racks

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

David Byrne seems to be an addictively busy man. If he’s not renovating a Lower Manhattan building into a fully functioning musical instrument, he’s teaming up with Brian Eno after 20 years for a follow-up album that has electro-pop junkies drooling over a digital release date.

David Byrne seems to be an addictively busy man. If he’s not renovating a Lower Manhattan building into a fully functioning musical instrument, he’s teaming up with Brian Eno after 20 years for a follow-up album that has electro-pop junkies drooling over a digital release date. And when he’s not out on tour behind said album, he’s swapping doodles with the New York City Department of Transportation to throw a little pop art into the bustling city’s bike racks.

An avid bicyclist who can often be found wheeling down New York’s Lower East Side-with a nonfiction called Cycling Diaries book set for sale next year-Byrne has quickly become the city’s poster boy de jour for eco-friendly initiatives. Having become known for his pro-pedal stance, the NYCDoT had first asked Byrne to lend a hand as a judge in a design competition for a line of new racks across the city. It wasn’t long before the musician-turned-culture guru disqualified himself from the contest by jotting down a few ideas of his own, which the panel immediately requested for placement all along the city’s sidewalks. Byrne’s Manhattan gallery, Pace/MacGill, and PaceWildenstein commissioned the designs for the chance to sell them-likely upwards of $10,000 a piece-a year after they’ve been in use.

Sketches include a dollar sign for Wall Street, an electric guitar (“The Hipster”) for Williamsburg, a car for the Lincoln Tunnel, a high-heel shoe outside Bergdorf Goodman and even “Mudflap Tammy”-the sexy silhouette that decorates so many truckers’ big rigs.

Byrne told The New York Times he doesn’t expect such efforts to avalanche into a green revolution anytime soon: “I don’t think people are going to switch over to bikes because it’s good for them or because it’s politically correct. They’re going to do it because it gets them from A to B faster.”
Still, he added he has noticed an attitude shift for biking in general: “Now it’s cool in different ways: for some people it’s cool if you have an old junker. For other people it’s cool if you have a racing bike.”

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