UPDATE Nov 21, 2017: The Athens City Council approved the changes as proposed during the meeting on Nov 20, 2017. This includes both the slight reduction in the area of the sidewalk ban for bikes and skates in Uptown (excluding College and Congress Avenues), changing the fine from a misdemeanor to an administrative violation, and increasing the fine to $30.
UPDATE Nov 20, 2017: The area of restricted bike and skating on sidewalks in Uptown Athens is set to change as detailed in the map below. City Council is voting on Monday November 20, 2017 to reduce the area restrictions as well as changing a fine for violating the ordinance from a misdemeanor to an administrative offense, and increasing the fine to $30.
An education campaign, increased enforcement, and updates are coming to the bicycle and skateboard ban on sidewalks in Athens Uptown.
Walk Your Wheels sidewalk sign
During an Athens City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting on Monday October 23, 2017, Mayor Patterson discussed that as part of the city’s Walk Your Wheels education campaign beginning in January 2018, that it intends to shrink the area for the bike ban to just the sidewalks along Court Street.
Many Athens residents are aware that for years the city has banned bicycles and skateboards from sidewalks in most of Uptown due to safety concerns. Earlier this year, the City Council passed an ordinance that reduced a ticket issued for an infraction from a criminal to a civil offense, thus enabling non-law enforcement personnel to issue tickets. In particular, this updated traffic code gives power to the parking enforcement staff and other city staff to issue tickets to those violating the bikes and boards on sidewalk ban in Uptown.
Athens City Council Oct 23, 2017
According to Mayor Patterson, as part of its education campaign, the city recently installed sidewalk-level signage asking for individuals to “Walk Your Wheels.” In addition, by January 2018, the city will be installing 7’ tall street signs and vinyl skin signs to one side of trash receptacles near intersections on Court Street to spell out the details of the traffic ordinance and fines.
Currently the ban on bikes and boards in Uptown extends to the cross streets of Carpenter, State, Mill, Washington, Union, and the parallel streets of S. Congress and S. College Streets. Mayor Patterson suggested that because they respect and understand the value of cycling in Athens, the city will shrink the area of the sidewalk ban to target only the heaviest pedestrian areas where safety issues are most critical, namely, along Court Street.
Athens Court Street Bike Rack Map. Red markers represent locations of bike racks along Court St. Click to view full Google Map of bike rack locations in Athens County.
During the meeting, Council Member Patrick McGee suggested that the city should consider providing more bike racks to invite people to ride to Uptown, park their bikes, and walk to their destinations on Court Street. Council Member McGee suggested installing bike racks, “maybe even in front of City Hall,” and Council Member Papai suggested adding bike racks in the first level of the municipal parking garage, saying that it would be nice to come back to a dry bike on a rainy day.
Currently, Court Street only has 8 bike racks along 3+ blocks with a total capacity of 20 bicycles, according to a bike rack inventory conducted by Ohio University staff and students. Recently the city added a new set of artistic bike racks as part of the W. Union Street upgrade project, adding 6 new bicycle parking spaces. More bike racks like these, following the Essence of Athens Plan (see figure) could be added to locations along Court Street to expand available bicycle parking, helping to encourage people to bike to Uptown.
Essence of Athens Bike Rack – W. Union St
Essence of Athens bike rack design
Link to municipal code update March 20, 2017: https://library.municode.com/oh/athens/ordinances/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=848460
Link to municipal code 7.03.39. Bicycling on certain sidewalks. https://library.municode.com/oh/athens/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TIT7TRCO_CH7.03PAOPAC_7.03.39BICESI