Rory Landon Aronson’s bike arch is this gigantic, colorful, metal absurdity. It’s pointless and charming and all things that seem doomed to fail.
And fail it did.
- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
Itook three days for Aronson to build the arch, a monster of six bikes anchored at the axle, bending over the front walkway of his downtown San Luis Obispo home. At least, it used to be there.
“It’s sort of beyond repair, so it’s going to have to be rebuilt,” Aronson, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at Cal Poly, said while standing over the now mangled mess of metal and rubber in his side yard.
On June 17, sometime between about 6 and 9 p.m., unknown vandals either hung off of or climbed on the structure, causing it to buckle under the weight. Neither Aronson nor his two roommates saw who did the damage, but when Aronson returned home from a trip, he had to pull the structure down. Now it’s sitting in a heap in the driveway abutting his house, a twisted pile of frames and tires.
Adding to the mystery is the fact that the archway has been a generally beloved attraction on Upham Street in the residential area of SLO’s historic railroad district for about six months, barring one complaint to the city. No one messed with it until recently, just after Aronson and other bike and arts enthusiasts rallied to save the arch.
On June 14, Aronson posted a Facebook event encouraging the community to rally behind the archway. The resident complaint led SLO code enforcement officers to require a permit for the bike arch.
“This is a new one for me,” Code Enforcement Officer Greg Cruce said of the arch. “And I’m not saying that I don’t think this is very cool.”
Cruce said California building codes require a building permit on any structure taller than 5-feet, 9-inches. Exactly how expensive and how long it would take Aronson to acquire such a permit, Cruce couldn’t say. He guessed the city would likely charge the minimum $209 fee, but a timetable would be determined depending on the scope of the review. Aronson’s bike arch could require anything from a review in-house by city staff, or as much as a formal hearing in front of the city’s Architectural Review Committee or its Art in Public Places Committee.
Days after the arch was torn down, a code enforcement officer stopped by the house to assess the arch’s new, crumpled status.
The officer told Aronson the city had to step in and require a permit “for the safety of the community.” Just before he left, the office told Aronson, “We can work on this together. Personally, I like the arch.”
While Aronson doesn’t know exactly what the permitting process will entail, he said he plans to resurrect the arch. His plan is to work through the city’s approval process from the start. But he’s hoping for continued support.
“The best way to do that is to show the love people in the community have for it,” he said.