The dedication for the mural Whimcycle in Roanoke’s Old Southwest neighborhood took place this past Saturday. Here are the comments I gave for the RIDE Solutions part of the presentation.
Since 2001, RIDE Solutions has been promoting the use of alternative transportation in the Roanoke Valley and beyond. During that time, we have helped form nearly a thousand carpools, inspired hundreds of commuters to get on their bikes, and encouraged countless people to ride the bus. We have partnered with over employers large and small, and currently help over 45,000 employees explore their transportation options.
Through our work we have contributed to significant improvements in regional air quality, helped to keep traffic congestion low, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and retained millions of dollars in local economies, money that might otherwise have been burned in our gas tanks.
While all of these things are important, we believe there is more to it than that. We believe leaving your car in the driveway can be first step to rediscovering your neighborhood. We believe safe streets for walking and biking mean opportunities to interact with and get to know your neighbors better. We believe that working and shopping in bikeable and walkable distances means you are more likely to support local businesses and strengthen our local economy. We think streets made quieter because fewer people are driving and more people are carpooling and taking the bus means safer spaces for kids to play and neighbors to enjoy.
It is tough to appreciate your community when you’re zooming by it every day in your car. It’s tough to get to know your neighbors better if your doors are closed and your windows rolled up against them. It’s impossible to stop and smell the roses if you’re always driving past them at 35 miles an hour.
Whimcycle is an example of what makes our neighborhoods unique and special, what makes them worth slowing down for, noticing, and appreciating. RIDE Solutions is excited to support this and other public art projects in the Roanoke Valley because we believe when people live in strong, interesting, vibrant neighborhoods they won’t be in such a hurry to get out of them.
Transportation choice isn’t merely a matter of getting from A to B. It’s also about what you do in between, and I think taking a moment to appreciate this wonderful piece and others like it is worth the time.
Today, we encourage you to explore some of the Roanoke Valley’s best public art amenities in the best way possible – on a bicycle. At the end of this dedication please pick up one of our Art by Bike maps, which will lead you on a self-guided tour of 26 arts-related sites including murals, sculptures, and unique architecture. We have constructed the route to follow bike-friendly paths, making use of the valley’s sprawling Greenway system and many on-road bike lanes. When you’re done, we have set aside some space at the Wasena City Tap Room’s patio for you to gather with your fellow cyclists for some refreshment.
If you can’t take the tour today, you can download a copy of the map at any time from the bike section of ridesolutions.org.
I want to thank Mim Young and the Roanoke Art Mural Project for leading this project, Toobz for his amazing work, and all the other supporters who helped make it happen.