ON BIKE CULTURE IN EUGENE | Fine blogging since 2010 (with periodic long breaks)
I made a roundabout commute yesterday in order to ride over the new Delta Ponds bike/pedestrian bridge, as it officially opened to the public. It is an inspiring spectacle indeed — especially on a rare sunny November morning.
I know what you are saying. You are saying, “Hey, those lightposts are cockeyed!”
Well, that’s what you get for $5.6 million. Oh, just kidding. The lightposts, of course, offer a “whimsical visual echo of the towering support structure,” according to the bridge’s design documents. (Actually, I just made that up.)
But let’s get back to my adventure.
I arrived at the west end of the bridge after riding through “Car-dealership Row” on Goodpasture Island Road. You can also come to the west end of the bridge via an offshoot of the Riverbank Trail, avoiding auto traffic altogether — except for one crossing of Goodpasture Island Road.
The purpose of the bridge, of course, is to allow people who live in the neighborhoods off of Cal Young Road an easy way to cross the Delta Highway on foot or by bike — in order to get to the Riverbank Trail.
It eliminates the need to negotiate the mess that is the Delta Highway/Valley River Drive interchange. If I lived over there, I would love this bridge. I think I love it anyway.
As you arrive from the west, you are greeted thusly:
I stopped to take it all in. I watched a cyclist ride up the ramp. I spent a few minutes taking some photos of the sculpture. By now, we’ve all heard about the sculpture, right? It’s a work of public art that is an homage to Native American fishing nets, or something like that.
The telephone pole is unfortunate, but with public art, you must do what you can, I suppose. I know some people don’t get it, but I like this sculpture. (Disclaimer and confession: I also like the new federal courthouse.)
I like public art in general, though — the whole idea of it.
For example, there is this wonderful and sinuous piece, which I spotted a couple of weeks ago over on Third Avenue, near where you come off of the Ferry Street Bridge.
Alas, it was gone the next day. It must have been one of those temporary artworks, a la Christo.
As I was preparing to finally ride over the actual bridge, I shot this last photo. You can see that the Chevy Metro, bumper sticker and all, appears poised to make a run at crossing the bike-and-foot-only bridge.
You will also notice a worker in a yellow hardhat strolling off of the bridge with a man who I believe to be the designer of the bridge. You can tell that he is a designer because he is dressed entirely in black.
(Having written that last paragraph, based on absolutely no hard information whatsoever, I decided I should try to find out who the designer of this bridge actually is. It turns out to be an engineer named Jiri Strasky. And weirdly, based on photos I found while Googling him, I would not be surprised if that actually is him.)
So, up the ramp I went. The cyclist I had watched ride onto the bridge earlier had apparently crossed over to the other side and was now returning.
He looked at me, stopped and said, “This needs a Talking Heads soundtrack. ‘We’re on a bridge to nowhere.‘ It ends up in somebody’s front yard. I’m not kidding. Go check it out.”
I wasn’t sure whether he was disparaging the bridge as some kind of federal boondoggle or whether he was just making conversation. But it’s ironic that he should say this, because David Byrne, who co-wrote that song, is a cycling freak — and I’d guess he would adore this bridge.
But I did “go check it out.” That’s why I was there, after all.
Maybe I was just feeling good because the sun was shining, but at the top, crossing the freeway, there was something incredibly fun about riding over this span. There’s a nice view of both buttes, Skinner and Spencer.
And, no, I would not say it is a “bridge to nowhere.” Not in the least. In fact, I’d venture that this bridge is far more useful than either the Interstate 5 bike bridge near Gateway or the DeFazio bike bridge, which has always struck me as: sorta nice, but rather redundant — since you could throw a rock and hit the perfectly good Ferry Street Bridge.
But that cyclist was right about one thing. The Delta Ponds bridge does land you in someone’s front yard. This is what you see as you come down off the east end of the bridge:
Two other cyclists were coming up the ramp. As they passed me, one looked at me, put his finger to his lips and said, “Shhh. The neighbors are sleeping.”
Once you get back down onto the street, if you look back, you get this view of the east entrance to the bridge, along with the humble abode known as 907 Sherwood Place:
You have to wonder what the good people at 907 Sherwood Place think about this structure. It certainly puts the Riverbank Trail, figuratively speaking, right in their back yard. And it puts a mass of concrete, literally speaking, in their front yard.
As I continued on, heading off toward Cal Young Road, I took a last look back and noticed how the bridge and its eastern access ramp seem to be trying to wrap the little house at 907 Sherwood Place in a loving embrace:
So, I’d say it’s worth a ride out there if you haven’t been yet. Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this new landmark.