Tucson’s Bike Church Sanctuary

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Jean Gorman (center) Chris Mooney Photo

The Tucson Bike Church Sanctuary is a permanent memorial dedicated to bicyclists who have been killed in traffic accidents and stands at the northern gateway to a six-mile bicycle and pedestrian path that will run from downtown, through South Tucson and to the Kino Sports Center. Public artist Joe O’Connell, who runs Creative Machines, and his collaborator Blessing Hancock, an artist and landscape designer, created the sculpture. The 12 by 12 foot structure is best viewed from inside — the walk-in metal sculpture allows the visitor to appreciate not only the hundreds of bike frames, wheels and rims but also the stained-glass windows and musical chimes, details that at a glance may not be noticed by passers-by. By day, the stained-glass windows, which are made of metal and colored acrylic, contrast with the white structure. Go by at night and see how beautiful it is — the pinnacle rises to 22 feet and is lit by solar power that projects through multicolored “story panes”.

The sanctuary is nondenominational but the artists borrowed a bit from religious iconography. There are two Stars of David on the sides and a mold of a Pascua Yaqui dancer; the top is similar to those on Islamic temples and the stained-glass windows remind one of a church.

After the Bike Church was built with funding provided via a $50,000 grant from the Pima Association of Governments and the Tucson Pima Arts Council, Jean Gorman and the B.R.A.D. Fund announced a plan to make improvements to the area around the sanctuary. The next step is a tree planting project and pavers to surround the space. To assist with this phase of the project, the B.R.A.D Fund is soliciting $50 donations from bicyclists and bicycling clubs. For your $50, you get a paving stone with you or your club’s name engraved on it that will be installed at the memorial.

The structure is located just north of downtown in the Barrio Anita neighborhood, on the southwest corner of W. Davis Street and N. Main Ave.

Drop by when you’re in town for El Tour – it’s a lovely idea.

If you would like to contribute a commemorative paver for the sanctuary — this place where we remember our loved ones — please send your check for $50 to:

Perimeter Bicycling / The B.R.A.D Fund

2609 E Broadway

Tucson, AZ 85716

Information: 520-745-2033

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