GREENFIELD — What do you do with a bike rack that might not look all that much like a bike rack?
Stick a bike in it, of course.
Over a recent lunch, city planning director Joanie Fitzwater and Downtown Main Street Inc. program manager Shelley Swift were trying to decide how best to spruce things up for spring and let residents know the 16 rectangular bars sprouting from the sidewalk at eight locations throughout downtown were not modern sculptures but, in reality, bike racks.
“They don’t look much like bike racks, and I even put stickers on them to let people know they were bike racks,” Fitzwater said.
The stickers haven’t had much impact: Bicycles rarely are parked on the racks. So, officials are trying a different idea: Bikes in Bloom.
To get residents in a spring state of mind, Downtown Main Street is looking for 16 “cruiser style” bikes (as in, your mom’s Schwinn) that owners are willing to donate to be rehabbed, refurbished or otherwise decked out for placement in the city’s bike racks.
The bikes will be given to 16 local nonprofits who will undertake beautifying the bikes. Once completed and on station at the 16 racks, the bikes will bear a plaque identifying the nonprofit that contributed to the effort.
“We don’t know whether we’ll have a group-decorating evening or just let them take the bikes and do it themselves,” Swift said. “First, I have to find 16 interested parties.”
Donations of generally good-condition cruiser bikes are being accepted now through March 15 at Maximum BMX, 1542 N. State St. in Greenfield.
Bikes can be brought to the shop from noon to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Using the donated and decorated bikes as bait, downtown supporters hope the effort will lure cyclists off the Pennsy Trail to rack their wheels and spend time browsing downtown shops and restaurants.
Thursday, the effort received its first set of when Suzanne Kosovich, owner of SoupHerb restaurant downtown, donated her recently purchased three-wheeled crusier.
Kosovich wasn’t sure what to expect from the bike decorators, but she said the initiative would be good for local shop owners.
“Anything to bring more people to downtown,” she said.
The bikes will be on display April 1 through May 17, which is the date for the planned Healthy Strides 5K event in downtown Greenfield. The event will feature entertainment along with an auction of a new bicycle from Maximum BMX, Swift said.
“It should be a lot of fun and encourage some community engagement,” Fitzwater said.
For further information on Greenfield’s Bikes in Bloom, contact Swift at (317) 586-8166.