In 2011 the Tempe Bicycle Action Group worked with coLAB Studio to design artwork to be installed in the right of way on Farmer Avenue. The call to artists by the City of Tempe was made to enhance a traffic calming project that built out 4 sets of chicanes. Here’s a screen grab of coLAB’s initial proposal.
The install was completed in late 2013 and we think coLAB did an amazing job hand selecting each of the boulders to fit and support the artwork. Here are the pictures we have from immediately after the installation.
Unfortunately, as you may have expected, this was not the end of the story. As it turns out drivers just couldn’t seem to avoid running into these installations. While we’re a bit vague at this point exactly when the first crash occurred it’s likely that it was within a year or two. coLAB was then hired to repair the artwork that was damaged, which required them to find new boulders that still worked well with the already existing art pieces.
At this point TBAG worked with the City of Tempe to get the artwork adopted into the City’s public artworks program. This would mean that the City could pursue compensation for damages from the errant drivers insurance company. This would, in theory, cover the costs associated with any repairs that needed to be made.
Would you imagine that drivers keep hitting the artwork?! Most of the damage likely occurred at night, were always single car collisions, so there were no police reports and it was impossible to identify the vehicle/driver nearly every time. Inspecting the latest round of damage it seems that in every instance it was from a vehicle backing out of a driveway. We guess drivers just don’t know where the back of their car is until it hits something (maybe backup cameras will solve that problem for some).
After the latest round of crashes the City paused and reflected. They certainly didn’t want to continue repairing artwork (and paying the monies) that would continue to get destroyed by oblivious drivers. Relocating the artwork seemed to be the best solution. TBAG proposed putting the artwork in Papago Park at the east end of the LoPiano Bosque Habitat. In the end the City found an a couple of easement spaces right along Farmer allowing the community to continue appreciating the artwork. We went by a in late 2022 and noticed that coLAB had already picked out and installed the boulders!
Once the artwork is moved we’ll give you a few more pictures and cross our fingers that this is the end of the story, time will tell…
Here are a couple of shots of the completed artwork, one from a rare rainy day (and people laugh at having fenders in the desert ; ).