by Jeff Miner
It was by no accident that San Luis Obispo made national headlines as being “The Happiest City in America.” Despite being located far away from any major metropolitan center, San Luis Obispo is a town that has proved itself time and time again as an artistic and cultural stronghold to be reckoned with. SLO is a community that prides itself on its home-grown art, nationally-recognized farmers’ market, and embrace of bicycle culture as a successful means to better the city.
Bicycling is a healthy, active way to not only save gas and money, but to reduce auto accidents and clear up congestion. San Luis Obispo made unprecedented steps to define itself as a bicylist’s haven on the rural Central Coast with its hugely successful efforts to create bike highways (Bob Jones Trail) and bicycle boulevards (Morro Street). Its monthly SLO Bike Nights encourage students as well as families to join an engaged community of bicyclists and bicycle advocates for an evening of fun and community bonding.
The Bike Arch on 880 Upham Street stands as a symbolic reminder of what makes San Luis Obispo such an outstanding city. The sculpture is a reminder that the city’s cultural and artistic heritage is still active and well-respected today, and whenever it is passed — be it by a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or a motorist — its bicycle symbolism leaves another mark reminding residents and outsiders alike of SLO’s rich environmental and bicycle-savvy legacy.
Tearing down this Bike Arch would be irreversibly harmful to SLO’s identity as the paradigm college town. I say this because for me SLO is a city for every college town to emulate, exemplifying positive ways for students and residents to come together and form a rich and diverse community based on idea exchange, intellectual growth, and progressive understanding. The Bike Arch stands as a testament to that tradition, a positive piece for discussion, and as art that does so much more for the community than sit idly on a street corner waiting to be passed by oncoming motorists. It is a motivating and engaging tribute that is quickly earning its place as a fundamental part of the patchwork in its own neighborhood, and as a driving influence for the greater community of San Luis Obispo as a whole.
5th year Architecture student, Cal Poly
4-year resident of San Luis Obispo