A new branch of southwest Ohio’s bikeway system has opened in Miami Township, linking the Great Miami River Bikeway to Austin Boulevard near I-75. The bike trails are part of a regional vision for economic development.
At the blustery ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Medlar Bikeway, officials from Montgomery County, Miamisburg, Miami Township and Five Rivers Metroparks cheered and posed for pictures.
Steve Stanley, head of the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District, said cycling options support economic growth.
“We heard today about one guy we know who’s already using the new trail system as part of his commute,” he said. “I think today of course it’s principally a recreation use, but that has value in and of itself.”
The two new segments near I-75 connect to a 330-mile network of trails across Ohio, one of the country’s largest bike trail networks. Miami Township officials say the local trails will eventually link cyclists to the Austin Landing development a mile down the road, and hopefully attract tourists and support the success of the sometimes-controversial project.
Regional bike trail users already bring in an estimated $16 million a year in retail and hotel revenue.
And, a note to bikers: Stanley said these new trails go through prairies and wetlands, and they are hilly.
“I’ve actually already been out on both trails,” he said. “I found them challenging and I’m happy to say I made it both downhill and uphill on both.”