(Posted Feb. 21, 2020)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Members of the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails (FMCPT) are always looking for ways to enhance the bike path experience.
One of the latest ideas gaining traction is a mural project. The vision is to paint scenes of historical significance to the county on a building on the MATCO property at Maple and Center streets in London. The building faces the 17-mile bike path that runs through town and is part of the 326-mile Ohio To Erie Trail, a bike path system that runs from Cincinnati to Cleveland.
“We’ve had this idea for 10 or 15 years,” said Wayne Roberts, FMCPT executive director. “We have a captive audience along the trail. This would be a chance to give them an idea of what our county is all about.”
An artistic welcome already greets path users on the west side of London. At the trailhead located behind the Madison County Senior Center, three-and-a-half-foot tall red metal letters spell out “LONDON.” The minimalist sculpture, which also serves as a bike rack, is so eye-catching that newlyweds often use it as a photo backdrop.
“The murals would give us that artistic entrance on the east side of London,” Roberts said.
The reason the idea is coming to life now, Roberts said, is because Van Viney, CEO at MATCO, recently contacted FMCPT. As it turns out, he also has been thinking murals would be a good idea.
The building at the center of the idea features 15 large, bricked-over windows. Roberts envisions 15 separate vignettes painted in those spots. He and others involved in the project are contacting the Madison County Historical Society for suggestions for what to depict and the London Visual Arts Guild for help with design. They also are contacting businesses and community groups.
“We are trying to get as many different stakeholders involved for help with the concept,” Roberts said.
The project is in the infancy stage. The group that hopes to push it forward held its first meeting last week. Roberts said he has no idea how much the project will cost, but he does know that Dr. Gregg Alexander, FMCPT president, and other members of the group would like it to be locally funded.
FMCPT is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that helps with maintenance, improvement, and promotion of the portion of the Ohio To Erie Trail that runs through Madison County.
FMCPT also is looking into a project that would help to give the elderly and people with disabilities the bike path experience. Cycling Without Age is an international program that promotes the use of trishaws–battery-assisted, three-wheeled recumbent bikes with seating in front for two people. (Think rickshaw.) A pilot sits in the back. The program’s motto: “the right to wind in your hair” at any age.
“This would be a way to get people out on the trail who can’t get on a bike on their own due to age or disability,” Roberts said.
The idea would be to coordinate the service with retirement homes, assisted living facilities, and senior centers.
A trishaw costs between $6,000 and $10,000. Fundraising would be required to secure one of the vehicles, Roberts said.
“We’re just looking into it at this point,” he added.
FMCPT hopes to borrow a trishaw from a Dayton group to display at Senior Day in May, during Senior Citizens Week at the Madison County Senior Center in London. The purpose is to gauge interest, Roberts said.
For more information about the bike path and FMCPT, go to www.fmcpt.com or call Wayne Roberts at (614) 205-6754.