Alumni News

October 19, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Notable Alumni | Peter Kotses, from Athens Bicycle to Baileys Mountain Bike Trail

By Regina Yoong

Graphic for College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Award

Editor’s Note: The College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Awards honor alumni for broad career accomplishments, commitment to community service, and valuable contributions to Ohio University and the College of Arts & Sciences.

Peter Kotses ’92 History

An avid cyclist, Peter Kotses saw opportunity in the Athens market and decided to open a bike shop. He opened Athens Bicycle, a retail and service shop, in 1998 with a $25,000 bank loan and a $9,000 loan from his in-laws.

He worked the first season by himself, and by 2007 he had built the business to two locations with 15 employees. Athens Bicycle has served thousands of customers, employed many people, and was able to rehabilitate a blighted corner in on Stimson Avenue in Athens.

Peter Kotses at Athens Bicycle

Peter Kotses at Athens Bicycle

“Owners Peter Kotses and Meredith Erlewine grew up in Athens and are graduates of Athens High School and Ohio University. Peter is a lifelong cyclist with more than 35 years of experience bicycle riding, racing, touring and commuting. He has worked in the retail bicycle industry since 1991 and is an expert mechanic. Meredith has more than 25 years of experience riding and racing bikes. She is a certified tour guide and bicycle skills instructor, regularly guiding bicycle tours, leading group rides, teaching skills clinics and organizing cycling events,” says the Athens Bicycle website.

He earned a B.A. in History from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University.

Kotses at Athens City Council desk

Peter Kotses on Athens City Council

City Councilman and Bike Recreation Advocate

Being a community-minded business owner, Kotses got involved with initiatives to enhance the recreation and transportation systems in the region through volunteer service.

To date he has served three Athens mayors in different capacities. He participated in conversations that doubled the acreage of Athens city park land, provided comment and oversight during the first years of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, and started conversations to reestablish mountain bike recreation in two state parks after users were banned for over a decade.

On the Athens Lands and Conservation Advisory Commission, he assisted in establishing a state nature preserve to connect the City of Athens’ Sells Park with Strouds Run State Park. He was elected to an at-large position on Athens City Council in 2015 and has served two terms. In November 2019, he was reelected to a third term.

Baileys Mountain Bike Trail Project

Peter was invited in 2015 to the initial conversations that led to the Baileys Mountain Bike Trail Project, an effort to build the largest contiguous mountain bike trail system east of the Mississippi River.

With his lifelong community connections Peter was able to build a community collaborative that allowed the Baileys project to thrive well beyond any initial anticipation. The Baileys has grown to an $11.5 million investment project that has the potential to bring 181,000 annual visitors and $20 million in annual spending to the region.

Peter Kotses and family on bikes

Peter Kotses and family on bikes

OHIO Memories

“I think collectively of the classes and the teachers that presented material and encouraged thought. People like Lester Marks, Richard Harvey and Charles Alexander gifted me the foundation of learning and critical thinking. When you are a college student you don’t recognize that you are establishing the groundwork for the rest of your life. I understand now the importance of those years on campus,” Kotses said.

“Also, I believe there is nothing better than sitting at the Civil War Monument and having a conversation. Occasionally I still get to do that.”

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