Lincoln Journal Star Article
Goal of auction is to keep bikes in city
September 9th, 2003 / By Margaret Reist

It started out as a fund-raising project for the Lincoln Arts Council, but the heavy steel bikes that spotted the Capital City's landscape this summer -- full of whimsy and color and creativity -- became something else altogether.

"I had no idea I'd feel so strong, that they'd be so important to the community,'' said Liz Shea-McCoy, president of the Lincoln Arts Council and chairman of the Tour de Lincoln community art project.

Which is why, nearly seven weeks from the Oct. 3 auction at which the bikes will be sold, there's a lot of brainstorming going on.

City officials, neighborhood activists, arts organizations and soon-to-be 50-year-old bicycle enthusiasts are all scheming for ways to keep some of the bicycles in Lincoln. In the public eye.

It's an idea close to Shea-McCoy's heart:

"As someone who has fallen in love with the bikes and where they are ... Iwould love to see them stay in Lincoln.''

When Lincoln Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson saw the interest in donating bikes, he brought together representatives from trails organizations, the parks and recreation advisory board and arts council to decide on permanent spots for the sculptures. They came up with 29 locations. At the auction, donors will be asked to identify three locations where they'd like to have their bicycles placed.

Johnson noted that the donations would be tax-deductible. And the city will install the bikes at the new locations.

"We're trying to take away any barriers to possible bidding on a bike and donating it to the city,'' Shea-McCoy said.

But lots of people don't see barriers, they just see the bicycles.

Char Henninger, who will turn 50 this month, is a longtime bicycle enthusiast and has loved seeing the sculptures as she pedals along the paths.

"It's such a morale booster for the city,'' she said. "All these budget cuts and sad times, and now we have something to focus on that boosts people's spirits and morale.''

Though she'd like them all to stay where they are, she decided to make her own bid when she found out about the auction.

So when she sent out her birthday invitations, she requested that guests who insisted on giving her something make a donation to her bidding effort. If she gets a bicycle, she'll put it in her yard. If she doesn't, Henninger said, she'll donate the money to the Lincoln Arts Council.

Mary Teters has similar feelings and, as treasurer of the Colonial Hills neighborhood association, suggested her organization bid for a bike. If successful, the association will put it in Colonial Hills Park.

"I just thought it would be really neat to have one in our park,'' she said.

Johnson said public art is an important component of city parks, and the city may consider buying a bicycle as part of the Antelope Park project, which has money available for public art.

"Parks should tell a story,'' he said. "Art is one of the ways parks can tell a story. It makes them so meaningful.''

Some arts organizations, such as Abendmusik Lincoln, are looking for sponsors willing to donate a bicycle. Sherm Bixby, who is on the board, said there are two motives: to find a way to keep the bicycles in Lincoln and to benefit from the auction proceeds.

Athird of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to a nonprofit Lincoln arts organization of the buyer's choice. Another third will go to the artist who created the sculpture, and one-third will be used by the Lincoln Arts Council for public arts projects.

Rosemary Dobson has taken up the cause on her own, calling friends to encourage them to show up at the auction at Haymarket Park -- where all 71 bicycles will be on display -- and bid on a bike together. For the city.

"We just think it's a charming idea,'' she said."We both bike, my husband and I. We just think it's a neat thing for the community.''

Reach Margaret Reist at 473-7226 or

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