New specially designed bike racks are coming to downtown Kalispell.
Three winning designs have been chosen in the Kalispell Downtown Association’s (KDA) Bike Rack Design Competition. The winners — “Greater Red Indian Paintbrush” by Tessa Heck-George, “Kalispell” by Lovie Englishbee and “Forest Buddies” by Tanya Lambrecht — will be installed in various locations in downtown Kalispell in the fall of this year.
These three are the first of several bike racks that the KDA plans to build around Kalispell in the coming years. The chosen bike rack designs will be fabricated by Flathead Valley Community College’s Occupational Trades department. These initial bike racks will be installed in central areas on Main Street, and more will be placed in other downtown areas in the future.
“Our hope is to continue to do bike racks in that downtown core, and also help to get some interesting-looking bike racks along the new bike trail when it opens up,” said Pam Carbonari, the executive director of the KDA. “So that all of the businesses can get the benefit of more foot traffic in the downtown core.”
The KDA’s bike rack project intends to increase the bike and pedestrian friendliness of downtown while adding color to the landscape. It is the inaugural project of the Kalispell Art on the Streets (KAOS) program, an ad hoc committee of the KDA that was created this spring. In addition to the bike racks, KAOS plans to add more art to Kalispell through murals and other public art in the future.
KAOS’s goal for Kalispell is “to have it end up being a destination area — people come down here to look at all the various art and get intrigued by our architecture, and also then shop downtown and eat downtown,” Carbonari said.
More than 70 bike rack designs were submitted to the competition by artists around Montana. The competition sent out a widely distributed call for submissions and reached out to students at junior high and high schools, ensuring a broad pool of designs to choose from. The winning designs were selected by an evaluation committee composed of members of the KDA, Kalispell Business Improvement District, City of Kalispell, FVCC Occupational Trades, the bicycling community and the Kalispell art community. Ten finalist designs were chosen and displayed at the Red Lion Hotel for the public to view and vote on.
According to Carbonari, the selection process was focused on involving the community.
“We feel that we did a good job of representing the public and choosing three wonderful designs,” she said.
Community engagement has been a goal of the bike rack project from the beginning. Throughout the competition, the KDA has sought input from the public, in both its call for designs and its selection of the winning bike racks.
“This really, truly was a community event,” Carbonari said. “That’s what we wanted it to be: the community involved in the process.”