One can argue the artistic merit of the roundabout bicycle sculpture, but there’s no doubt it’s a traffic hazard. Whether approaching head on or from behind, it’s a blurry clump of scrap metal. Not until drivers are halfway through the roundabout can they see the riders’ profiles. This requires drivers to turn their head 90 degrees to the left and look in order to see the sculpture – just as they are the middle of a turn. A traffic wreck is surely imminent. Is this part of Durango’s war on the automobile? And how coincidental is it that any accidents will be caused by five bicyclists riding abreast? Sign me, ‘Ceymore Butts’
Perhaps the sculpture’s alignment was for the benefit of Riverview Drive drivers, who endured years of not being able to turn left or right before the roundabout’s installation.
One could hear the city say, “Gosh. Those poor folks had to sit there for so long. Maybe we ought to give them something to look at. Why not the good side of this sculpture?”
Or maybe not.
Either way, the hard-to-see artwork is emblematic of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge race, which the piece commemorates.
Just think of how many folks associated with that ballyhooed event turn their heads and look the other way when the race comes up in conversation.
Additionally, a 90-degree turn to the left is equally symbolic. It represents the direction Durango’s politics have taken in the last couple of years.
As for the “Durango’s war on the automobile,” it should be noted that the roundabout is a device to encourage traffic by keeping it flowing, which it is doing with aplomb.
Durango’s war on the automobile is actually waged farther down the road with the constant salvo of orange parking tickets and inconsistent, infernal flashing crossing signals.
Conversely, the roundabout has turned a problem intersection into a relatively safe place.
Not one single accident has been reported in the Florida Road roundabout, said our friend Lt. Ray Shupe with the Durango Police Department.
Granted, it might be related to climate change.
“We used to have a lot of accidents at the Florida-Riverview intersection back when we had snow,” says the lieutenant.
“The hill would get slick and cars couldn’t stop – so you’d see a lot of T-bones.”
The roundabout slows down Florida Road traffic, which gives drivers more time to react and less distance to break.
Therefore, it’s the engineering of the roundabout that makes it safer, not the centerpiece.
Yet it seems people want more decoration than iron bikers currently provide.
Recall a couple of months ago, some intrepid art lovers put fluorescent green bikinis on each bike rider. The swimwear was removed within a couple of hours, presumably by fretful city workers on race day.
Action Line is delighted to report that last week, fuzzy red-and-white Santa hats adorned each sculpture for a few magical hours before some Grinch removed them.
Could there be a huddle of hush-hush holiday haberdashers amongst us, secretly plotting seasonal-appropriate headgear for the five cyclists?
How about Abe Lincoln stovepipes for Presidents’ Day? Green derbies for St. Paddy’s Day? A red, white and blue Uncle Sam top hat for the Fourth of July?
A tip of the cap to the mad hatters!
Of course, there’s another option. What if the city is successful in getting a mothballed Army tank on behalf of Al Harper of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad?
The city could swap Al straight across. Al could display five rusty iron bikers at the train museum, while the city could display the tank in the roundabout.
With a tank in the middle of the road, the city would send clear message and Durango’s war on the automobile would enter a new phase.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you wonder what the city would do if it got a battleship instead of a tank.