The last time we reported on the Riverside Drive bike lane project, Cincinnati’s Department of Transportation was considering postponing the long-awaited project because of future construction on I-471.
The delay is official. According the WVXU (91.7 FM), the city’s Transportation and Engineering Director, Michael Moore, told Laurie Keleher, the city liaison with the East End Area Council, in an email that the project was indefinitely postponed. The delay, said the email, could range from a year to two years.
The idea for Riverside Drive bike lane project came about in summer 2011. Bike transportation proponents argue that the installation of bike lanes on Riverside Drive is a crucial step into making the street a safe channel for commute and leisure for East End residents.
Currently, the road serves as a main thoroughfare for bikers and drivers from the East End to downtown, but problems with speeding and narrow paths along the side of the road pose serious safety risks for bikers.
The plan to install bike lanes on Riverside Drive would potentially make the road less of a busy thoroughfare and more like a suburb road.
The city is concerned that construction on I-471 will divert traffic to Riverside Drive; the bike plan mandates the removal of one lane on the road, meaning that, potentially, Riverside Drive would become clogged with commuters.
According to construction plans, though, I-471 would remain open during the work. Columbia Parkway, which also runs from the East End downtown, is a far more viable alternative for commuters inconvenienced by I-471 construction. Speed limits on Columbia Parkway are higher than on Riverside Drive, and the infrastructure is markedly unfriendly for bikers, while Riverside Drive holds far more potential.
According to an email from the East End Area Council to City Manager Milton Dohoney, the city’s decision to halt progress on the Riverside Drive project essentially means they’re going back on their word. “The City of Cincinnati has invested considerable time and money in various plans ... all of which seek to make walkability and bicycling an integral part of daily life in Cincinnati.”
“We are dismayed that the City of Cincinnati Administration considers the convenience of the eastern suburban commuters who all speed through our neighborhood above the safety of the people who live and work in the East End,” reads the email.
Queen City Bike also expresses concern over any form of delay in the plan.
"If this project is delayed, current budgetary realities lead Queen
City Bike to believe that the lane reconfiguration would be lost for the
foreseeable future. Any future reconsideration will almost certainly
require rerunning the considerable analysis that went into the decision,
effectively wasting the work done and taxpayer’s money spent so far.
Therefore, Queen City Bike opposes any delay in the Riverside Drive lane
reconfiguration," reads a post on Queen City Bike's website.
Want to contact the city's Department of Transportation? Click here.