Call them functional works of art.

The new bicycle racks going into downtown Long Beach look more like elaborate metal sculptures than a place to lock up your bike.

They have curving sunbursts and sweeping arches that give them a sort of wild but creative look.

The designs are part of the ongoing push by Long Beach to spiff up its downtown area along Pine Avenue and the East Village Art District on Broadway.

The eight racks were designed by artists Lisa Jacobs and Tom Walker, who worked in their studios shaping metal for the project.

"I did a little research before I started my project," said Walker, who works out of an artist studio in the city's Magnolia Industrial District near the downtown area. "I interviewed bicyclists about what bicycle-rack designs work, and they said the most popular is the inverted U-shaped design where you can attach the front and back bicycle tire."

The bicycle-rack project was the idea of officials of Downtown Long Beach Associates, a business improvement district, which decided the ever-improving downtown needed some spiffier bicycle racks for the people who work there.

"Employees who ride their bikes to work were chaining them to the trees," said Shawna Taylor, a spokeswoman for the business improvement district. "The thought was, if we had nice artistic racks, they could be part of a downtown beautification project."

So the DLBA, with the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency and the Public Corporation for the Arts, pitched in $17,500 for the project, and then opened up a bidding process to area artists.

Jacobs and Walker were the winners.

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