Bike path

A bicyclist on the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway climbs a hill in this file photo before entering Richland Avenue Bridge in Athens.

Note: This story appears in the Thursday, May 9 newspaper on Page A3.

May is National Bike Month, and just in time the city of Athens is being recognized as one of America’s most bike-friendly towns.

Athens ranked 20th on a list issued by PeopleForBikes, a Colorado-based foundation which advocates for bicycling in America.

The rankings analyzed safety statistics for each American city. Other factors included how well a city’s bike network serves residents; how it connects riders to destinations; how prevalent bicycling is in each city; and if the rider population is growing.

Athens received a 3-star rating on a 5-star scale, and was the only city in Ohio to rank in the top 20.

Within individual categories, Athens ranked highest on the safety component (3.6/5) and the component for how the local bicycling network reaches destinations (3/5).

Athens earned lower marks on components of: the city’s commitment to growing bicycling (1.5/5) and total ridership (1.6/5).

“In the City of Athens, bicycles have become more than simply a piece of recreational equipment, they are increasingly viewed as a healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transportation for work and non-work trips alike,“ stated Athens Mayor Steve Patterson in a news release highlighting the ranking. “With the increase of cyclists on the road here in Athens, it is obvious that bicycle mobility is having an economic impact in regards to the consumer choices and even location choices for businesses catering to the bicycling passersby or for their own bicycle commuting employees.”

Rob Delach, communications officer of the Athens Bicycle Club and HockHocking Adena Bikeway Advisory Committee secretary, was recognized as one of the main drivers behind the ranking. In a news release, Delach praised the local bike path as an “amazing” resource for Athens cyclists.

“It is these kinds of forward-thinking measures that will help improve our streets to encourage more people get on bikes as part of their daily activities,” Delach stated.

PeopleForBikes used data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The foundation also says it looked at “new sources developed by the PeopleForBikes team to capture city-specific data based on mapping, city planning information, and survey responses from community members.”

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