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BFB spotlight: Bicycle Friendly Candidate

Peter Kotses is more than a bike shop owner. He is the owner of a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Business, and, most recently, a candidate for city council in Athens, Ohio. 

We talked with Peter to learn a little bit more about his bike-friendly endeavors this week. Read more about the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Businesses here!

What does this award mean to you and to your business?

It’s great to be recognized as a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Business. Our job at Athens Bicycle is to help people easily work bicycling into their lives. I’m happy that our team does the same and uses bikes for transportation because bicycle commuters are a powerful tool in shaping a community. 

You are running for city council — what made you want to put your hat in the ring?

I love this city and we currently have a lot of positive energy in local government. At the same time there isn’t anyone on council who has the small business resume that I possess. My unique viewpoint is an asset when the city works with businesses.  

How does running a bike shop shape your view on working in city government?

I see first-hand how businesses are economic drivers in a community. Athens is very close to being a company town. Ohio University is the reason the majority of us live here, so the City of Athens has to work at keeping its own identity. For me, a vibrant retail sector is one component in that equation. 

In your view, how does bicycling affect a local economy? 

Athens, Ohio, and Ohio University are progressive with bike infrastructure. It’s now part of the package in attracting great community members. The ratio of bike businesses for a town our size is skewed. Our population with students is 45,000 and we have four bike shops, a bike co-op and a bike rental business. That doesn’t count the department store bikes that are sold in town. Having safe places to ride creates a revenue stream that’s not present in every community. Athens is also seeing an uptick in visitors looking for recreational riding, which we have in spades no matter what your discipline is. Cycling is accessible here. 

What’s next for you? 

Next year I will have to overcome a huge learning curve seeing what it takes to run a city. I’m looking forward to those conversations. On the bike shop side we have a team of great people who know the end goal for Athens Bicycle is to be a resource and to help educate and provide answers for all things bicycle. With that team on the ground I’m lucky to be flexible enough to slip out for city-related business. It’s great when a business grows to the point that it affords you time to devote to other causes.

What we have been able to accomplish at Athens Bicycle has exceeded any expectations I had when I first started in the industry 25 years ago, and I don’t think we have hit the ceiling yet! I also plan on attending the National Bike Summit next March in DC.