ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke’s greenways are a popular place to get fresh air, but city leaders shut them down on April 1 after they became too popular during the COVID-19 crisis.
Now, business owner Steve Ambruzs hopes a petition can get the greenways open again.
“My immediate reaction when the greenways closed was, ‘Wow, this is going to be inconvenient for a lot of people that bike commute to places like Carilion, downtown, and other parts of the city,'" Ambruzs said.
Ambruzs’ petition to reopen the greenways has more than 150 signatures as of Sunday. He hopes to present the document to city council Monday afternoon.
“It takes a community to do what is best for the community," Ambruzs said. "Having the voice of these people and including ideas is really important.”
City leaders, including Mayor Sherman Lea, closed the trails because people were not social distancing while using them
“We have seen a blatant disregard of the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Lea said when he announced the greenways’ closure on April 1.
Ambruzs, who owns Downshift Bikes and Brews in Roanoke, also worries about excessive crowds coming to the trails. He says his goal is not to reopen all of the greenways at once, but to find a way to open it up slowly over time.
“I want to make a change that can keep people safe, but also allow people to recreate in a safe manner and get to and from where they need to go,” Ambruzs said.
During his April 1 speech, Lea said safety is the main concern with the city’s greenways.
“While exercise and fresh air are essential, these things must be done in a manner that protects public safety”, Lea said.
While Roanoke’s greenways are closed, portions of greenways in Roanoke County and Salem remain open.