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On sucker poles

Twice in the past seven days I’ve encountered an unsecured sucker pole.

A sucker pole next to a highly-secure bike rack provided by the City of Chicago’s Bicycle Program. The adjacent placement of the two fixtures is an unfortunate side effect of construction crews who didn’t receive guidance on bike rack placement. 

What’s a sucker pole? Any sign pole that’s not embedded in concrete or securely fastened to the ground in another fashion. A simple hex nut on a bolt fastens the pole to the base.

So last Saturday I encountered my latest one in front of India House (59 W Grand), just hours after Alexis Finch of Thought You Knew pinup calendar fame mentioned a specific sucker pole at the Green Eye (2403 W Homer) – I could completely remove the pole from its base.

Alexis reported that when she visits that bar, she removes the pole from its base and lays it on the sidewalk to prevent others from locking their bikes there.

I want you to spread the word about sucker poles while at the same time requesting a bike rack for that spot. I invite designers to remake this crappy poster I created and thankfully never printed.

Remake this “beware of sucker poles” poster into something cool and I’ll pay to print a few copies for you to keep and give to friends or bike shops. 

Design a promotional message

If you were asked to design a poster, postcard, flyer, or what have you, to promote bicycling, what would you create?

A photo of my sister riding a bicycle in Chicago alongside the text, “I want to get in shape, waste less time, and save money.” Similar to Mikael’s “The bike, think about it.”

No one asked me to design the poster above. Mikael Colville-Anderson of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic (who I met in January 2011) is constantly reimagining car advertisements and plastering cheeky messages on photos. I created this to expand my creativity, use computer software I rarely try out, as well as promote one of the answers to a lot of problems, be they personal, environmental, or social.

I don’t think there’re enough positive messages about bicycling being spread in media or in our media-filled physical environment – we see the opposite. If you watched the Super Bowl commercials on Sunday (or online today), you’d have seen Audi’s “Green Police” arresting people for not recycling or for driving something other than their “clean diesel” car. Audi advertised the same “clean diesel” car in a different commercial that suggested bicycling was difficult and degrading, and probably only done while it’s raining.

To promote bicycling as the cure to what ails us, Mikael designed this poster of a patch kit and the text, “The bicycle. Fixing broken cities. You’re welcome.”

Mikael and I posing for a shot next to hand and foot rail for cyclists after riding our bikes around Copenhagen after sipping some beer and eating expensive, but tasty, hamburgers.

Promoting bicycling doesn’t always need a narrative message, though. This poster for the great people of San Francisco identifies each neighborhood by a kind of bicycle. The funniest one is the exercise (stationary) bike for Castro. Think about the neighborhoods in your city – which one would a fixie represent and which one would get the cargo bike?

One of my favorite messages is apparently quite old: Put some fun between your legs.

© 2017 Steven Can Plan

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