Biking in Athens – 2017 Top Ten List

2017 Top 10 Countdown

10. More Bike Parking Options in Athens
9. Uptown Bike/Skate Sidewalk Ordinance Changes
8. City of Nelsonville Adopts Complete Streets Policy
7. E. State St Project Bike Lanes
6. New Athens Mountain Bike Festival held in Strouds Run State Park
5. Bike Education Opportunities
4. Ohio University Named a Bicycle Friendly University
3. Breweries and Bikeway Promotions
2. Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Improvements
1. Wayne NF Bailey Tract Mountain Bike Project Moves Forward

1. Wayne NF Bailey Tract Mountain Bike Project Moves Forward

Bailey Tract Mountain Bike Trail Project Phase 1 Map

Bailey Tract Mountain Bike Trail Project Phase 1 Map

While there was plenty of good news for bicycling enthusiasts in Athens this year, arguably the biggest news was that the Wayne National Forest officially approved the Bailey Tract Mountain Bike Trail Project on December 8, 2017. The project plan includes around 90 miles of mountain bike trails connecting to as many as six local town/villages in Athens County. The Athens Bicycle Club has been instrumental in getting the project to this point.  Wayne NF is now seeking Federal funding to begin construction on phase 1 of the project. The project caught the attention of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) which has included it in its “Dig In” National trail fundraising campaign. Donations for can be made to the project on the Dig In webpage.

2. Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Improvements

This year’s many Bikeway improvements make for a six-part entry in our countdown:
2A. Columbus Rd Bikeway Spur: The City of Athens completed the long-planned bikeway connector to Columbus Road and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the 2nd spur of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway on 9 December 2016. The $2.2M project was primarily using State funds (80%). The new bikeway spur has improved access to businesses along Columbus Rd including ACEnet, New-To-You Thrift Shoppe, Ohio is Home, Devil’s Kettle Brewing, and OMG Rotisserie, to name a few. Link to article:
During the Hocking River flooding in early March 2017, the trail spur was damaged, but was promptly repaired using remaining grant funding, and re-opened in April 2017 (see photo below).
Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Columbus Rd Spur

Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Columbus Rd Spur

HAB Wayfinding Signs

HAB Wayfinding Signs

2B. Trail Signage Added to HAB:
The Athens City-County Health Department received a grant that funded signs to enhance the user experience and wayfinding along the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway. The signs were installed by Athens County, Athens City, and Hocking College staff.

2C. Bikeway Repaving from Stimson to US 33 overpass: The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Committee had noted the poor condition of the bike path pavement between Stimson Road and the Athens wastewater treatment plant, and was pleasantly surprised when the City of Athens took the initiative, announcing in July that it had found funding to get that section of the trail resurfaced. By August 2nd, the job was complete.

HAB Wayfinding Signs

HAB Wayfinding Signs

2D. Stimson Ave Roundabout: The City of Athens added a new traffic roundabout on Stimson Ave this summer, and also used the opportunity to improve bicycle and pedestrian access from the bikeway at Stimson Ave, which had been difficult. The city’s work has included improved pedestrian crossings and a bike path connection to N. McKinley Ave to Mill St. forming a network of connected off-road bicycling facilities. Link to tweet:

Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Extension Work

Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Extension Work

2E. Bikeway Trail Extension: In November 2017, work began to extend the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway on the Eastside of Athens to S. Canaan Rd. The trail will be within the Route 50 right-of-way, but will be set back from the roadway. Construction will continue through the Winter, weather permitting, with completion expected by June or July 2018.

2F. Walmart Bikeway Connector Paved: Paving of this connector took place sometime in early 2017. This connection from the bikeway to the Walmart even has a bike rack that almost always has bikes locked to it, and it brings to five the number of smooth connections from the Bike path to businesses along E. State St.

Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Walmart Connector

Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Walmart Connector

3. Breweries and Bikeway Promotions

Athens County is well-known by cyclists for the popular Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, and by craft beer aficionados as the home of Jackie O’s Brewpub. The last few years have seen an explosion of new destinations for beer and cider lovers, including Little Fish Brewing, Devil’s Kettle Brewing, Multiple Brewing (in downtown Nelsonville), Jackie O’s Taproom, a new Craft Beer Hall at Eclipse, and the West End Cider House, and the construction of Bikeway extensions leading to several of these. No fewer than three full-service bike shops that offer bike rentals are also readily accessible from the Bikeway. Recognizing this synergy, the Athens County Visitor Bureau worked with the businesses and local interested parties to develop a “Brewed on the Bikeway” craft beer and bike tour promotion for Athens as a biking and brewing mecca.
Bike & Brew Flier

Bike & Brew Flier

This promotion received national attention in article by USA Today.
This idea was so good that Redtail Design Company also developed in parallel, a Bike & Brew flier.

4. Ohio University Named Bicycle Friendly

Bike Friendly University - Bronze

Bike Friendly University – Bronze

In 2017, Ohio University was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle-Friendly University at the Bronze Level, joining 4 other universities in the State of Ohio, and more than 180 universities nationwide on the list. OU has leveraged recent construction and renovation projects on campus to install dozens of new bicycle racks and other improvements to its bicycling infrastructure.

5. Bike Educational Opportunities

Kids and Families Off-road Ride at Athens MTB Festival

Kids and Families Off-road Ride at Athens MTB Festival

ABC Kids & Families Rides: Athens Bicycle Club (ABC) hosted 4 Kids and Families bicycle rides this year. These rides help bring a new generation into the sport safely, teaching bike handling and real-world riding experience in a family group-ride setting. Most of the rides explored the City of Athens and Ohio University, but the club also held an off-road version at the First Annual Athens Mountain Bike Festival in late September at Strouds Run State Park.
Link to tweet from August Kids and Families Ride:

Trail Building School: IMBA sponsored a Trail Building School session that was organized by ABC and held in Nelsonville and Lake Hope State Parks in in July 2017. The free training included classroom and hands-on training with a professional instructor.

Trail Building Workshop - July 2017

Trail Building Workshop – July 2017

How We Roll Rides: In collaboration with the Columbus-based “Yay Bikes!” and with grant funding through the Athens City-County Health Department, Athens Bicycle Club members Bob West and Meredith Erlewine have led numerous bike education rides this year, that include on-road experiential learning opportunities in which participants learn bike law and practice positioning themselves on the road for maximum visibility and predictability.

quote box: “Now that I have led over 60 people on these educational rides, I also can say I’ve overwhelmingly received comments that support [the] finding that “a one- to two-hour guided bike ride experience can change both the way people drive and how they feel about bicyclists,” even if those people do not consider themselves “cyclists” in the first place.” – Meredith Erlewine (How We Roll Ride Leader)

How We Roll Ride

How We Roll Ride

optional: In response to an anonymous Athens Voice complaint about riders on one of the How We Roll Rides, Athens Bicycle Club member, Meredith Erlewine, provided an editorial response in the Athens News.

6. Athens Mountain Bike Festival held in Strouds Run State Park

Athens MTB Festival - Sept 2017

Athens MTB Festival – Sept 2017

It was a beautiful weekend to hit the trails when  Athens Bicycle Club hosted the inaugural Athens Mountain Bike Festival at Strouds Run State Park in late September, 2017. Most of the more than 50 attendees were local, though we also welcomed riders from Zanesville, Cleveland and Marietta, Ohio, who were attracted to the festival because of the opportunity to experience new trails with seasoned local riders. Hopefully this becomes and annual event in Athens.

7. East State St Project Bike Lanes

Based on the number of editorials and comments on Athens News articles on the subject, the most controversial bicycling related project this year was the proposal to add bike lanes to E. State St. in Athens’ busy commercial district. Unfortunately, as a result of higher than expected bids, the project has been delayed until 2018, and in the mean time, there will be more pavement patching during Winter of 2017-18.

8. City of Nelsonville Adopts Complete Streets Policy

The Nelsonville City Council passed a Complete Streets policy on October 23, 2017. The City’s new policy states that “Complete Streets are…planned, designed, constructed, operated and maintained in such a way as to enable safe, comfortable and convenient access along and across rights-of-way by users of all ages and abilities, including but not limited to, pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, motorists, emergency, freight and commercial vehicle operators.” This policy sets the stage for the City of Nelsonville Downtown Bicycle and Pedestrian Enhancements project that will improve conditions for biking and walking in Nelsonville, beginning in 2018 or 19.
Stay tuned in 2018 as the City of Athens considers adopting a Complete Streets policy of its own.

9. Uptown Bike/Skate Sidewalk Ordinance Changes

Walk Your Wheels sidewalk sign

Walk Your Wheels sidewalk sign

The City of Athens updated its ordinances, resulting in a reduction of the size of the area in Uptown with bike/skate sidewalk restrictions, reduced a violation of the city ordinance from a misdemeanor to an administrative offense, and increased the ticket fine from $20 to $30. The city recently posted “Walk Your Wheels” placards on sidewalks in Uptown as part of its campaign to inform the public of the safety restriction on riding bicycles and skateboards on busy sidewalks in Uptown.

10. More Bicycle Parking Options in Athens

Over the past year, several new public bicycle racks have been installed in Athens. A notable example is the green Athens Block bike racks that were installed by the city as part of the W. Union St Improvement Project. It was nice to see the city implement some of the aspects of the Essence of Athens into this project, including the new bike racks. We’d love to see more of these around town.

Essence of Athens Bike Rack - W. Union St

Essence of Athens Bike Rack – W. Union St

Additional new bike racks were added by Jackie O’s Taproom on the Eastside, right in the front of their parking lot, and a rack in front of the new apartment building on E. Carpenter St.

At Ohio University, recent construction and renovation projects have included the installation of dozens of new bicycle racks, and this Fall, the Office of Sustainability began offering “Bobcat Bike Valet,” free bicycle valet parking for home football games.

This Fall, an OU Undergraduate Voinovich School Scholar conducted a bicycle parking study to help inform the University on bicycle rack usage and where there is additional need for bicycle parking on campus.

2 thoughts on “Biking in Athens – 2017 Top Ten List

  1. John Knouse

    This is in the past, but I’d like to mention that one of the greatest things that historically happened hereabouts for bicyclists is the decision to open the Strouds Run – Sells Park trail system to bicycles. It was originally not so intended.

    1. Robert Delach

      I’d like to see better signage for bike routes to help people find the access points for those trails. My first day in Athens I tried to find the Cucumbertree trail access, which I could see on a map somewhere, but finding it on the ground was a whole other issue. I even asked a couple folks along the way and they didn’t even know what I was talking about.

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