Evolution in Action (at the Auckland Medical School)

Normally, evolution isn’t a process you can watch live. It’s slow, and you usually don’t see that much difference from day to day (or even much longer time periods). Only when you see the different evolution stages next to each other can you see where things have moved to.

I recently had such an experience outside the flash new campus of the Auckland Medical School in Grafton. With their landscaping outside the building just coming into it’s own, the school recently installed a whole new set of bike racks. The interesting thing was that directly next to them, there were two earlier generations of bike racks – still used, while in the background, they were just bolting down the new, “third generation” racks. Click through twice to see large images at the right.

  • The oldest racks were the type of low-to-the-ground “tyre-twisters” that most cyclists avoid when they can, for obvious reasons. You just wait for your bike to fall over in them, and presto, you can basically swap out your rim. They are also hard to lock your bike to, especially the frame.
  • Next to these were what is still widely used all over the university areas in Auckland, a rather complicated frame with a bottom rail, and a strange, vertical post with an undersized-and-hard-to-reach loop to put a chain through. Slightly better, but…
  • Why not go with the Sheffield Rack? A simple inverted U. Holds up your bike. Easily chained to – front and back wheel, if required. Nice and elegant. Truly, as has been said by [some unknown-to-me person]: Good design is not when there’s nothing more to add, but when there’s nothing more to take away.

Okay, admittedly, the Sheffield stands are an old classic. So maybe the evolution metaphor falls flat here after all. But the best thing is that the university is not only extending their cycle parking strongly, they are also choosing simple, well-working solutions for it.

Oh, sod it. Actually, the best thing was that the new racks were full within a day.

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