With a bike rack contest that combines art with real life practicality, Algonquin is putting the "fun" in functional.
The village, known for its green tendencies, is on a new kick to install more bicycle racks around town, to promote cycling and Algonquin as a bike friendly community.
To do it, the village is asking area artists to submit creative designs for bike racks.
"We thought it would be fun if we combined the functionality of bike racks with art, since we do our public art program as well," said Senior Planner Katie Parkhurst. "We thought this would be a great way to expand on both of our programs."
The village doesn't keep a tally on the number of bike racks in town, but officials hope the contest adds at least a dozen to the total, and perhaps more if local businesses decide to help sponsor the contest.
Artists and welders behind the winners win $2,000 for uniquely shaped racks and $200 for U-shaped racks.
Adding more bike racks in town was a suggestion made by the village's Engage, Conserve and Optimize Committee in its environmental action plan, released online earlier this year. The committee also is drafting an ordinance requiring new businesses to install bike racks, Parkhurst said.
The village hopes to win a bike friendly designation from the League of American Cyclists, a Washington DC-based group that rates towns based on how accommodating they are to cyclists.
The league currently has recognized only three Illinois communities - Naperville, Chicago and Schaumburg. Chicago has earned a silver rating while Naperville and Schaumburg both carry bronze designations.
But the league is still giving its props to Algonquin.
"Kudos to Algonquin if they're starting to put bike racks in," said Meghan Cahill, the league's director of communications. "That's a good start."
The deadline for the contest is Feb. 1. For more information about the contest or to download an application, visit www.algonquin.org.