Cycling event to promote Athens bike safety and usage

Athenians will be breaking out their bikes to raise awareness about the method of transportation that is proving to be popular in the city during an event Saturday.

The City of Athens Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee will sponsor the first Simply Cycling event in the parking lot of the Athens Community Center. The event is aimed to bring Athens bicyclists together and inform them about bicycle safety and resources.

During the meet and greet, cyclists can interact with representatives of cycling clubs, organizations and shops in Athens.

ShadeTree Bike Works will also demonstrate how to fix a flat tire.

There will be a preliminary skills course offered by the League of American Bicyclists that will help riders learn bicycle safety and bike-handling tips.

Athens ranks high among similarly sized cities in the number of pedestrian and bicycling commuters, according to the city’s 2010 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

“Athens is bike friendly, but, as always, we can improve in this area with better-marked pathways to neighborhoods, places of business and parks,” said Councilwoman Chris Knisely, D-At Large.

With the ever-growing number of bike paths, Athens is a bike-friendly city and more residents and students are choosing bikes over cars.

“It’s a lot less expensive to maintain than a car —there’s no parking or insurance, which is especially better for students and everything is within biking distance,” said Carrie Stemridge of the Ohio Bike Federation and an organizer of this event. “Not everybody [in the biking community] knows each other and this will be a good opportunity to meet and discuss amongst each other different events and cycling groups.”

Athens is becoming more bike-friendly with "share" lanes and extensions to the bike path, said Maxine Rantane, owner of Cycle Path Bicycles.

“The more Athenians bicycling, the better,” Knisely said. “Bicycling contributes to making Athens a more environmentally sustainable community and lessens the parking and traffic congestion.”

There is a social and educational component that comes from people sharing information amongst each other, said Stemridge.

“Education, information, community and a sense of confidence on a bike is what I hope to see happen this weekend,” she said.

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