Raleigh raises $9,000 online for bike racks, benches

ccampbell@newsobserver.comMarch 7, 2014 

Raleigh’s new decorative bike racks that were funded by online donations will be similar to these animal-shaped racks near Beasley’s Chicken + Honey on Martin Street.

COLIN CAMPBELL — ccampbell@newsobserver.com

— The city’s first attempts at raising money online fell short of its goal, but the crowdfunding initiative still netted $9,000 for upgraded bike racks and greenway benches.

Raleigh launched the campaigns in December, and city officials weren’t sure what to expect in seeking donations for amenities. The fundraising total was enough for 13 benches along the Neuse River Greenway and five decorative bike racks along city streets – not quite the target of 10 racks and 15 benches, which would have required $14,000 in donations.

“The good side of it was it engaged a bunch of people in taking a personal interest” in the effort, assistant city manager Dan Howe said. “We purposely picked two projects we thought people could really get behind.”

The benches have already been installed in high-traffic sections of the greenway, which runs from Falls Lake to the Johnston County line. The relatively new trail didn’t offer walkers and cyclists anywhere to sit.

The exact locations for the decorative bike racks – similar to the donated ones around downtown with shapes ranging from a chicken to the state of North Carolina – haven’t been determined yet, transportation planning manager Eric Lamb said.

The decision will be based in part on votes cast last fall on the city’s SeeClickFix troubleshooting website. Top contenders were the Moore Square parking deck with 41 votes and the North Person Street business district with 34 votes.

Raleigh already had $20,000 for new traditional U-shaped bike racks, but the decorative options – including a coffee cup, an oak leaf, or an alligator – cost more.

Howe said top donors – who gave $500 to have their name on a bike rack plaque – will be consulted about the location and design.

Each crowdfunding campaign had about 30 individual donors, with $1,125 from the Bedford Homeowners Association and another group contribution from the N.C. Roadrunners Club.

For now, it’s unclear whether Raleigh will try to crowdfund for any other city projects. Howe said that’ll be up to the Raleigh City Council.

“It’s a fair amount of time and effort and organizing to generate what is not a great deal of money,” Howe said.

If Raleigh crowdfunds again, Howe says the city would “try to engage smaller groups of people in deciding what projects to do.”

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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