People traveling The Loop multi-use trail at the Broadway bridge over the Pantano Wash might be amused — if not momentarily startled — to catch sight of a gigantic bat perched atop a pole and riding a bicycle.
It’s a metal sculpture called the “batty biker” by artist Stephen Fairfield.
He was hired by Pima County to create a public art piece reflecting the many bats that roost under bridges along The Loop and the human users, including bicyclists, who use the route. The county oversees the linear-park pathways that now extend to more than 100 miles around the Tucson metro area.
“There was a call for artists by Pima County. The call was for something that was relevant to bicycles and bats — and was whimsical,” said Fairfield, whose bat-on-a-bike proposal was selected for the project. “It was $11,000, and they supplied the groundwork and footing.”
He said he constructed the sculpture of carbon steel. It’s about 8½-feet long and 5½-feet high, and it weighs about 1,000 pounds.
The sculpture, installed earlier this year, was part of a project that added a new 12-foot asphalt multi-use path from Broadway to Kenyon Drive. As with other county construction projects, 1 percent of the final cost was set aside for public art.
Nancy Cole, project manager for the county, said the “batty biker” has been so popular with Loop users that similar sculptures are planned for other sites along the route.
“We’ve decided to do a continuing series, since there are multiple locations on The Loop that bring together bikers and bats and bridges,” Cole said in a news release.
Fairfield said he’s working on a second sculpture — a “batty biker family” consisting of a papa bat, mama bat and baby bat on a tandem bike. It is to be installed in February near the North Campbell Avenue bridge.
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz