MAP: City of Athens Dedicates Bike Path Extension

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Phase one of a two-phase bike path extension project in Athens is now complete.

The city of Athens dedicated a new 1,030 foot section of the HockHocking Adena bikeway today at the West State Street Park. 
The Northwest spur connects the bikeway at the West State Street Park to a rehabilitated railroad bridge crossing the Hocking River. 
City Engineer and Director of Public Works Andrew Stone says the project has been in the works since the late 1980s. Construction officially began in March of this year. 
Bicyclists in the community say they are thrilled about the latest addition and improvements to the bikeway. Carry Stemirch, who rides her bike to Athens from The Plains every day, is glad to have an alternative route.  
"As a bicyclist, I have not had a whole lot of support from a lot of motorist activity that happens on a daily basis. Having this kind of addition to the bike trail has really kind of boosted my spirits and just helped me understand that the community really does care about bicyclists and is going to do whatever it can," she said.  
John Lefelhocz, owner of Cycle Path Bike Shop in Athens, thinks that the bike culture in Athens has become more prominent over the years. 
"When I first got to Athens in 1985, it was not considered a bike-friendly place," he said. "Over the years, I've seen it shift. There's a lot more focus to make it easier to ride around town." 
Athens City Council member Chris Knisely agreed, sharing that she thinks Athens is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the nation. 
"I'm really impressed with a city that's our size– that's still less than 25,000 people and we're making it a very bike friendly community,"
Phase one of the bike path extension project cost the city of Athens $154,000.  A grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources provides an 80 percent reimbursement on the project's costs.
The extension is part of the larger effort to link together paths and neighborhoods throughout the community. Bike lanes have been added to several streets in Athens, most recently on Mill Street. 
The second phase of the project will extend the trail to University Estates Boulevard. The phase is still in initial planning stages, as the property has not yet been acquired. Stone said it will be complete in the next few years. 
Knisely said that in the long-term future, the city also intends to add more bike lanes on streets like Columbus Road and Richland Avenue. 
A map of proposed bike path extensions is available below.