With group rides prohibited due to the pandemic, RIDE Solutions, the region’s commuter assistance program, developed several self-guided, themed, bicycle tours featuring everything from local foods to art to history. With sites and historic context from the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation, RIDE Solutions created four tours featuring 38 historic churches: Downtown Roanoke, Northeast Roanoke, Northwest Roanoke (all under ten miles), and a 37-mile Roanoke Valley Loop.
Many churches have a century or more of history with pastors that served for decades and were deeply involved in the community and the Civil Rights movement. Some of the buildings themselves have been the home of more than one church through the years and most congregations have moved a few times responding to changes in the size and locations of their congregations. Segregation and urban renewal impacted Black churches and white churches.
The tour routes bicyclists on greenways, bike lanes, and quiet neighborhood streets. Using the Ride with GPS app, bicyclists can follow the route and read a little about each church listed. A bicycle is an ideal way to explore the churches and experience the neighborhoods surrounding each church: fast enough to make the distance, slow enough to soak it in, and easy enough to stop and look.