Dundas West neon bike the latest casualty in Ford’s war on public art

Dundas West neon bike the latest casualty in Ford’s war on public art

The bike on Dundas West—now, with chives! (Image: Morgan Passi) 

Last week, Rob Ford’s clean-walls crusade erased a mural the city paid a local artist to paint. Then, a couple days later, news broke that the city had taken aim at another harmless act of urban beautification: an abandoned bicycle outside the OCADU Student Gallery on Dundas Street West. Artists Caroline Macfarlane and Vanessa Nicholas recently transformed the old, rusting bike into a neon orange piece of public art, only to be slapped with a removal notice by the city for their efforts.

Apparently, Macfarlane sanded, primed and eventually, alongside Nicholas, spray-painted the bike, much to the delight of many passersby. From her blog:

Another little boy told me I had a beautiful bike and that he wished he had an orange bike like mine. A woman shook my hand and thanked me for brightening the street. Two police officers came by on numerous occasions to see the transformation of the bike unfold. By the end of the day they were suggesting what types of flowers to plant in the basket and honking and waving as they rode by in their cruiser!

While the two officers appreciated the freshly painted bike, the city apparently did not. Macfarlane returned to find a removal notice on her latest work, instructing the owner to move it within seven days. But why now? According to a spokeswoman for the City of Toronto Transportation Services, the city acts only if it receives a specific complaint; but Trinity-Spadina councillor Adam Vaughan says he has yet to receive one related to the neon bike.

We’ll leave the last word to Macfarlane, who summed up the situation best: “This bike has been sitting in the same pace for yearsmonths, unnoticed by the city. However, once it is brightened and made beautiful, it’s got to go.”

UPDATE: We’re happy to say that Torontoist is reporting that it looks like the bike is going to stay—chives and all—locked up on Dundas West at least for the time being, if not longer.

Spontaneous act of art ordered removed from Dundas St. [Toronto Star]
Neon bike attracts admirers, bylaw officers [CBC News]
Re-cycling [Blog the Good]