Oh, The Irony…

One of the interesting by products of the COVID-19 pandemic is my bike rides have differed from the usual group rides on the same set routes, most on rural roads. While riding alone, I have been “freelancing” the routes and in the last month have seen parts of the county I have not seen in a while. One of the nice things about riding a bike is you really get to experience an area in a very visceral way. It’s amazing how much a thin layer of glass and steel can change the way one experiences an area. Anyway, when I’m alone on the bike, I’m often moved to stop and take a picture of something I find striking. Usually, it’s a some kind of beautiful scenery in south county, but today I stumbled on an Objet d’art in Crofton in a strip mall on the southeast corner of Reidel Rd and Crain Highway (MD 3).

Channeling my inner American Dirt, when I came across this mini traffic circle, essentially in a parking lot with very little traffic, it screamed at me to snap a picture.

The irony in suburban objets d’art.
Looking a little closer, what the heck are they doing?
The context of ‘Main Street’ Waugh Chapel. The circle is at the end of this ‘boulevard’.

I’m sure the owners of the strip center or their management company thought they needed some art to jazz this up. While any kind of art here would be rather absurd – as James Howard Kunstler says “places not worth caring about” – this particular installation is so ironic. Why? As anyone who has been anywhere near this section of Crain Highway around Crofton knows, it has become a deadly STROAD which is dangerous for drivers, walkers, bikers, everyone and now it does nothing well for any user. The county land use policies have morphed it from a highway to a street where businesses and people are with predictable safety and fiscal productivity consequences. There have been a number of fatalities in the last 10 years as people attempt to cross the highway (you know houses on one side, stores on the other, the traditional suburban use-based pods). As a result, many locals are very worried about the safety of their family.

Viewed in this light, this Objet d’art is depicting exactly what is wrong with this development pattern and the sprawl purveyor doesn’t even know it. Oh, the irony…

2 thoughts on “Oh, The Irony…

  1. The banner at the top of this post–i.e., the photo–would have been ridiculous on its own terms, even without your added context. But you make it even more painfully obvious how contrived this is. I don’t know anything about this area, but it looks like the sort of internal roundabout that has become increasingly popular within shopping complexes, maybe to buffer their cachet in achieving walkability points by certain pedestrian advocacy groups, merely by virtue of adding a roundabout…even if the roundabout design (as is often the case) isn’t any better for the pedestrian environment? I’d guess that adding a sculpture rather than the usual grass and landscaping is cheaper too; no regular maintenance costs.

    But what ARE the kids doing? It’s hard to tell from the detention-center fencing? Are they all sitting on something? Why does it look like they’re squatting?

    Thanks for redeeming this with your South County farmhouse photo. Perfectly framed!

    1. Thanks for your comment Eric. Being a little new to this game, I should have posted a full picture, not in just the header. I have updated the post with a full picture, a larger context picture and a close up of the children playing. It appears they are ‘frolicking’, but I think it looks more like they are freaking out being in a pen.

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