I feel like I must have first seen the work of Pete Dungey before I had started biking Boston’s notorious roads; I make this conjecture specifically because I don’t recall relating his Pothole Gardens to my own existence, but just considering it clever.
Regardless of my initial reaction, I came across the Pothole Gardens project again yesterday – and as our area has been undergoing substantial roadwork lately, it had new-found relevance to my life. Boston’s streets are, after all, even more harrowing by bike. I’ve seen potholes here that, though survivable by car, could swallow the front wheel of a less-than-vigilant cyclist whole.
In this light, I’m particularly fond of Dungey’s aim to raise awareness of the state of roads by planting small gardens in them. The project has several benefits, as I see it – the act of adding soil and flowers to pre-existing craters is for one thing not a destructive vandalism; gardens are certainly more visible to drivers and cyclists than an empty pothole, and are less likely to fill with rainwater (which makes their depth ambiguous); and of course, who could help but smile at these petite gardens in the unlikeliest of places?
As is the case every year, the warmer months thus far have seen a flurry of road reconstruction activities throughout Boston, as the city attempts to keep up with both the havoc wrecked by winter and general wear-and-tear. Bike lanes have cropped up (some better implemented than others), patches have been added and egregious holes have been filled. My favorite development by far has been the complete repaving of the sections of bike path in the Southwest Corridor that I ride daily.
Still, there are always hazards – and Pete Dungey’s effort to simultaneously make light of and draw attention to these hazards is cleverly executed. I’d be tempted to give it a try in our neighborhood; would you?