The Helena Bike Tower honors the cycling community of Helena, Montana. The genesis of the idea came about during a conversation with Pat Doyle, a leader of the cycling community in Helena and Judy Merical of the Great Northern Town Center in downtown Helena. The form of the tower is a one-half scale version of Helena’s historic downtown Fire Tower, originally built in the late 19th C. on a prominent hill as a lookout point for fires. The historic Fire Tower has become the iconic visual symbol of downtown Helena. The Great Northern Town Center generously donated a site for the tower along with a commitment to its long-term maintenance.
In the spring of 2015 Judy, Pat and I organized a used bike collection event. The support from the Helena community was beyond our expectations and over the course of a few Saturday mornings we had collected over 150 bicycles of every size, age and type. Community members and local businesses stepped up to help with publicity and stripping, washing and painting of the bikes. A 2016 timeline was developed for construction of the tower. A concrete foundation was poured in early April and Corten steel ordered for the structure.
Helena welders Jamie Neer and Keith Wilson cut and welded the Corten steel frame at Westside Welding, creating a separate copula to be attached on site. A steel mesh grid was welded to the frame to allow attaching the painted bikes to the steel frame onsite. The frame along with the cupola was loaded on a semi-truck trailer and driven to the Great Northern Town Center then craned into place and attached to the concrete foundation. The brightly painted bikes were then attached to the steel frame. A descriptive sign, lighting and landscaping were added before the official opening of the sculpture in early November 2016.