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Biking Introduced at Concord

By Josie Hanna
On September 20, 2017

Future bike trail may soon connect Concord to Pikeview High.
Photo By Make it Better

Exciting changes are happening at Concord University, not least of which is the addition of bike lanes and racks on campus and throughout the town of Athens. Christopher Smallwood, Director of Student Union Activities, says that Concord student Edith Martinez approached him with the idea to improve Athens and Concord University’s bike accessibility. From there, they developed a two-phase project.

    Currently, there are two phases of this project. Phase one includes the addition of marked bike lanes, new signage, and bike racks. “The addition of these bike lanes would be a compliment to the walking trail that already exists,” says Smallwood. 

    As of now, there has been a coalition of interested community members, Concord faculty, and students who are interested in the project. The group has already started to work with the town of Athens and the city council to get the project underway. New bike lanes will be marked throughout the town, signage similar to that of the existing walking trail will be posted for those interested, and bike racks will be installed to secure bikes while in class. 

    Phase two includes the long-term goal of the entire project. The coalition aims to build a bike trail that will connect Athens to Pikeview High School, and potentially beyond. 

    Due to the magnitude of the project, it requires collaboration on campus. The Recreation and Tourism Management department plans to help with writing grant proposals. Tom Saladyga, Associate Professor of Geography, and the Geography students will conduct a feasibility study next semester to determine the best areas for the trail. Administration will provide their support along with those who are already a part of the coalition. 

    The coalition has not secured funding yet; however, it is considering grants and private donations along with volunteer groups to help with the actual construction of the trail. Access to the trail would be free and open to the campus community and the public. Smallwood states, “This would be a really cool town to make more bike friendly.”

    To promote these new changes and phase two of the project, the coalition will have a table at the Homecoming football game and Athens Fall Festival. In addition, they will participate in the Homecoming Parade. They plan on releasing materials to get more information out to the students and community, including a Facebook page and a survey. 

    According to Smallwood, “This trail could be a gateway to so much for the town of Athens.” There are also several benefits that “bike towns” enjoy compared with non-bike towns. Economic benefits reported by other bike towns in the US have included a $1 million annual increase thanks to new tourists. Landscaping on trails improves air quality, which contributes to citizen health. Trails have been shown to reduce crime, improve property values, and bolster community pride. Personal health benefits from bike riding alone can include improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength and flexibility, decreased stress levels, lower fat levels, and can even aid in disease prevention, according to Harvard Health. With West Virginia consistently ranking in the bottom of national health polls, these health benefits could make an impact even at the state level. 

    For more information about this project or regarding involvement, contact Christopher Smallwood at or 304-384-6347, or visit their table during one of the upcoming events.

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