BARBERTON: Bike enthusiasts are invited to help Barberton learn how to improve the city for the two-wheel set.
The Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) will host its third Bike-N-Brainstorm of the 2013 season at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Snyder Avenue Trailhead, 33 Snyder Ave.
The series of events is meant to give transportation and city officials insight on how to improve biking in the Akron area.
In Barberton, cyclists who show up at the trailhead will embark on a nearly 10-mile route through various parts of Barberton, including downtown and along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Short breaks are scheduled along the ride to highlight diverse riding conditions and potential improvements.
After the experience, participants will be asked to brainstorm and share ideas for improvements along the route.
R-D Bike Shop and the Barberton Community Foundation are helping organize the event. Neighborhood Development Services and Source Care will provide food at the end of the ride.
AMATS Planning Coordinator Krista Beniston said Bike-N-Brainstorm events in Kent and Green earlier this year attracted more than 100 people.
“All of the participants have been very positive and glad that AMATS and their communities are seeking their input and thinking about cycling,” she said. “It has been a great year, and we’re looking forward to hosting more.”
The agency uses feedback from the brainstorming sessions to plan and prioritize bike infrastructure improvements, while city officials can use the information for planning purposes.
Improving the mental and physical health of residents is among the goals of the city’s Barberton Forward, Neighborhoods First program, and improving bike paths plays into that effort, Mayor William Judge said.
Judge has been known to ride his bike to City Hall and said he also biked to work in downtown Akron.
“We hope to generate some ideas from the public on better ways of connecting downtown to other areas and become more pedestrian- and bike-friendly,” Judge said.
In May, the city was one of two recipients AMATS selected to receive a $50,000 Connecting Communities grant — money used to overcome barriers between neighborhoods and downtown.
Also, the city received $225,000 from the Barberton Community Foundation to help build a pedestrian and bike bridge between the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and the Robinson Avenue Bridge. Judge hopes to see the bridge open late next spring.
Barberton’s portion of the towpath was used more than 300,000 times last year, Judge said, “and there is a real economic opportunity for people to get off the towpath and visit our lake, our movie theater, our restaurants and other businesses.”