If you’ve walked or driven through downtown Lynden lately, you may have noticed something new popping up in the flower beds. Through a collaboration of local artists, local shop owners and some enthusiastic community members, the Lynden Downtown Business Association has begun work on their “Painted Bike Project.”
The project aims to beautify downtown Lynden by installing vintage coaster bikes painted by local artists in flower beds. Three bikes have already been installed and they hope to have at least seven by next spring.
The bikes bring an extra touch of color and fun to the already unique downtown corridor. Chuck Robinson, former owner of Village Books & Paper Dreams, originally presented the idea to the Lynden Downtown Business Association, or DBA, and has been handling much of the coordination for the project.
The idea came to Robinson while he was visiting family in Florida, where beautifully painted bikes decorated the downtown streets. He had seen other ornamental items on main streets across the country, but nothing like the bikes.
Lynden’s bikes go deeper than just being fun and quirky. The town has a growing bike community that has crept into the infrastructure over the past few years; the Inn at Lynden put a bike at the center of its logo and offers loaner bikes to its guests. The association, in cooperation with the City, also recently installed a bike maintenance facility near the public bathrooms. There are three major rides that pass through town every summer and the downtown will soon be adding additional bike racks due to the growing number of two-wheeled visitors. With all these factors in play, the DBA knew the bikes would be the perfect fit for Lynden.
This has really been a community project. Clearbrook Metal Works donated the sandblasting, Lynden Paint and Flooring donated the paint, and local artists Susan Bennerstrom, Ben Mann and Joyce Norfolk painted the bikes that are currently installed. A fourth bike has been delivered to Lynden artist Terry Redden to be painted. The DBA collaborated with the Public Works Department and City of Lynden to make sure the bikes didn’t block foot traffic or the sightlines of drivers.
The artists are given no themes or guidelines; only a set color palette. It’s up to the artists to express themselves as they see fit. Results vary from a complex scene of ants and other characters, to an artful array of multicolored stripes, showcasing a bit of the artist and a bit of the city. After creating their masterpieces, the artists get to select a title for the bike that is displayed, along with their name, on a small license plate.
“We’ve had great feedback from the community already,” Robinson says. “The Dutch Village Mall on Front Street has even volunteered to put the bikes along the canal during winter so people can enjoy them all year round.” The bikes will be moved there in November and reinstalled outside in the spring.
The remaining seven scheduled bikes are planned to be completed over the winter and should be up by next spring. In the meantime, grab your bike and take a ride through downtown to see Lynden’s newest attraction: the Painted Bike Project.