Anyone visiting Bend today will immediately notice the many roundabouts that keep traffic flowing. Home to many large-scale sculptures, such as the famously nicknamed “Flaming Chicken,” “High Desert Spiral,” and “Mt. Bachelor Compass,” the roundabouts are a source of intrigue and inspiration today. But before 1999, there were no roundabouts in town. As roundabouts “turn” 25, we look back at how they were conceived.

The person who brought the roundabout concept to Bend is Brooks Resources Chairman, Mike Hollern. At the time, the city was experiencing traffic-related growing pains. Roundabouts seemed like a good solution.

Mike said, “I was inspired by the roundabouts in places I’d visited, such as Washington D.C. and Europe. The traffic circles made so much sense to me. And the site where the first Bend roundabout was placed, at Century Drive and Colorado Avenue, felt like the perfect spot for the concept to take root.”

Mike also noted that in addition to preserving large trees in the intersections, they would serve as ideal blank canvases for public art. Since then, most of the roundabouts in Bend feature stunning sculptures funded by Bend Foundation and generous donations from the community. Art in Public Places manages the call-for-artist and art selection processes in collaboration with the City of Bend. Due to the immense excitement the roundabout art has generated, Visit Bend has even established the Roundabout Art Route for locals and visitors alike to explore via downloadable maps on the Visit Bend website.

There was considerable pushback to the concept initially. Never one to shy from the opposition, Brooks Resources mounted an education initiative including a public meeting. In the end, despite the initial hesitations from some local entities, the concept was adopted, resulting in over 50 roundabouts today with more in the works. These marvels not only improve traffic flow but also enhance safety by reducing speed and minimizing accidents.

As Bend continues to embrace the roundabout revolution, it’s clear that these traffic circles have become more than just intersections—they’re symbols of progress, creativity, and forward-thinking. So, next time you navigate Bend’s streets, remember the journey that brought us ’round and ’round to where we are today. 

From gridlock to graceful flow, it appears Bend’s roundabouts are here to stay.

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