The City of Cincinnati today released the final draft for its plan to “re-establish (Cincinnati) as a model of a thriving urban city.” Plan Cincinnati, which will be taken up in a public hearing on Aug. 30 at 6 p.m., is the first master plan for Cincinnati since 1980.
The primary goal behind the plan is to transition the city away from a model that emphasizes suburban living back to a more urban model. The plan’s report justifies the shift by attributing it to a new societal need.
“Dissatisfied, American society is now beginning to reverse the trend (of suburban living) with the hope of returning to an environment that is more economically and environmentally sustainable, less dependent on the automobile, closer in scale to human form, and ultimately, truly more livable,” the report says.
The plan will make this transition with six guiding principles: Provide more transportation choices, promote equitable, affordable housing, enhance economic competitiveness, support existing communities, coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment, and value communities and neighborhoods.
The vague principles are outlined in greater detail in the 228-page report, which can be read in full here.
One of the key parts of the plan is its expansion of options for non-automotive travel. The plan promises to focus more work on bicycle paths, support a Bicycle and Pedestrian Program and build links between bicycle systems to allow more cycling through the city. The city will also “design and construct the Ohio River Bike Trail through Cincinnati” and make the city safer for cyclists by making roads smoother and cleaner.
The plan also encourages other transportation programs. Establishing better coordination with Metro buses, building intercity rail systems and integrating the new streetcar into a greater transportation model are a few of the many suggestions in the plan. With these systems, the plan hopes to “facilitate economic development opportunities.”
Beyond transportation, the plan also seeks to establish environmentally friendly programs. Some of the suggestions are developing a green construction incentive program, implementing smart grid networks and reforming the LEED tax abatement program to include additional energy efficient rating systems.
However, the plan is missing one important detail: cost. The report says Plan Cincinnati will be reviewed every year using the new Priority-Driven Budgeting process, but no estimates for cost are currently available. Katherine Keough-Jurs, senior city planner, explained why in an email: “That is not something that we provide. We have found over the years that providing cost estimates in long-range plans is problematic and the estimates can be misleading. Also, some of the Action Steps listed are not necessarily things that would have a monetary cost associated.”
Cincinnati cyclists have been waiting for the arrival of bike lanes on Riverside Drive since summer of 2011, and patience is running thin. Yesterday, Cincinnati's Department of Transportation announced that it was considering "indefinitely postponing" the bike lane project because of possible future construction on I-471.
The plan was originally postponed because Duke Energy needed to perform some work in the area. Now, Cincinnati officials are concerned that the I-471 traffic could redirect to Riverside in the face of construction, meaning Riverside could become saturated with rerouted motorists. The bike lane project originally required a travel lane to be removed from Riverside drive to install bike lanes.
Nern Ostendorf, Queen City Bike's executive director, expressed disappointment with the decision. "We really have to stick to our plans and prioritize. If we keep being bullied [by the city], nothing's ever going to change."
Riverside Drive is currently a main thoroughfare for East End bikers who work downtown, but problems with speeding call for reform. "The road doesn't have the infrastructure that it needs right now for bikers to be safe," says Ostendorf.
She says that the installation of the lanes is crucial to Cincinnati's urban and economic development. "We need to change people's understanding of navigating space with things other than cars." Ostendorf says there's an immediate correlation between the installation of bike lanes and hikes in business in surrounding areas.
"1. There is no guarantee that substantial I-471 traffic would shift to Riverside Drive; 2. East End already deals with commuters speeding through their neighborhood on a daily basis. It’s time for DOTE to make Columbia Parkway the obvious alternative for motor vehicle commuters by going ahead with this project, which will reduce traffic and speeding in a residential area."
The post directs proponents of the bike lane installation to contact City Council members, along with Michael Moore, director of Cincinnati's Department of Transportation, to lobby for the reversal of the postponement.
Moore could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Queen City Bike today sent out an email asking for help in convincing St. Bernard Service Director Phil Stegman why including a climbing lane on Mitchell Avenue between Vine Street and Reading Road is important to the area's cycling infrastructure. According to QCB, St. Bernard's engineers prefer to keep 10 feet of space for parking rather than use 8 feet for parking and include the bike lane. The city of Cincinnati, which owns half the road, needs St. Bernard to sign off on the infrastructure improvement, according to QCB.
The city of Cincinnati is planning to restripe a section of Martin Luther King Drive between Reading Road and Victory Parkway and would like input from cyclists who commute into Clifton and Walnut Hills. Queen City Bike today sent out an email asking anyone who regularly uses the route to fill out an online survey to help planners determine which infrastructure improvements to make.
The driver who accidentally hit and killed Cincinnati cyclist Andrew Gast, 27, along Wilmer Avenue in the East end last year on Aug. 29, 2012 will be sentenced by a judge on Monday, July 22.
More than 700 riders attended a "ghost ride" to support Gast and his family following his death. According to a press release from local bicycle advocacy organization Queen City Bike, Melvin White was originally charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide after police investigated the accident, which took place early, around 6 a.m., on a foggy morning.
Following an investigation, however, police found that although White was speeding at the time of the accident and was following Gast too closely, there were not factors at play to warrant an "aggravated" charge. His defense accepted a plea deal from prosecutors in which White pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide, the maximum penalty for which is six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Gast did, as required by law, have both a front-end light and a rear-end light on his bike at the time of the crash. His death was the first of two Cincinnati cyclist fatalities to occur in a two-week period last fall; 59-year-old Ronald Richardson of Bond Hill was struck and killed by a Metro bus driver when he swerved into the bus's path on Sept. 11, 2012, around 8:30 p.m., when it was also dark outside. Both Richardson and Gast where pedaling along the side of the road when they were hit.
Although the Cincinnati Cycle Club and Queen City Bike are expected to make a joint statement to the court officially requesting the maximum penalty, they're also asking that White donate to Queen City Blinkies, a program that distributes and installs free bike lights to the Cincinnati cycling community, in lieu of a court fine.
Under Ohio law, bicycles are considered vehicles are allowed to ride on the road, where they must obey all municipal traffic laws. See the city of Cincinnati's "Pocket Bike Law Guide" here.
White will be sentenced at 10:30 a.m. Monday, July 22 at the Hamilton County Court House on 1000 Main St. downtown.
City Council on Wednesday passed legislation to help fund a bike share program in Cincinnati, but not before arguments over the bike paths prioritized in Mayor John Cranley’s budget.
The bike share program, run by a non-profit company called Cincy Bike Share, would allow residents and visitors to purchase a year-long membershipor a daily pass to gain access to 300 bikes from 35 stations in the central business district, Over-the-Rhine and uptown. Over the last few years, successful bike shares have started in a number of large cities, including Chicago and Washington, D.C.
The motion passed by council gives the startup $1.1 million from the city’s capital improvements fund to help get its operation off the ground. The group estimates it will need at least another $1 million in investment to ramp up, but Cincy Bike Share Executive Director Jason Barron has expressed confidence it can attract that money.
But there was some controversy. Though all members of council supported the money to Cincy Bike Share, the motion originally came bundled with funding for a number of off-road bike trails the mayor prioritized in his budget.
Those trails have been controversial, as they represent a shift in course from the last council’s plans for on-street bike lanes.
Some council members said they didn’t know enough about the bike paths included in the motion to vote yes or no.
“The problem is, someone has paired these two issues together,” said council member Chris Seelbach. “And the bike paths may be perfectly legitimate, but the public deserves a presentation on what these paths are, why they deserve $200,000 set aside for them and what they will be used for.”
Seelbach pointed out that some of the paths need millions in funds to be completed and asked what a little money from the city would do to help their progress.
But Cranley said money for the Bike Share program is already overdue and needed to be approved immediately if that project is to go forward. A motion to consider both measures together failed a council vote.
“I’m just trying to get the Bike Share passed,” Cranley said. “I believe the Bike Share plan is going to be dead if we don’t get it through today.”
Cranley said the bike path spending will not happen in the near future and ordinances could be passed to revise that spending later.
Eventually, the measures were split after some argument between the mayor and council members Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young, all of whom wanted Cincy Bike Share and bike path funding considered separately.
Council will vote on the bike path funding issue later, after presentations from the groups building the trails in question.
Young called splitting the two issues to find out more about the paths “time well spent.”
Simpson told CityBeat she and other council members are pleased that Cincy Bike Share will be funded and that they’ll get a chance to learn more about proposed bike paths.
“I support biking and bike trails in general, it’s just one of those weird nuance things where if we’re going to defund one thing and start funding something else, you want to know what it is,” Simpson said.
She added that she was hopeful the city can find ways to fund both bike paths and urban lanes.
Update: an earlier version of this story stated that Cincy Bike Share is a for-profit company. The organization is a non-profit. The error has been corrected.
Bike to Work Week today kicked off its series of morning commuter stations offering free coffee and treats all week long in an effort to encourage residents to try cycling to work, meet fellow cyclists and learn about bike advocacy. The city was scheduled to announce an award for its Bike Program this morning at the Coffee Emporium bike commuter station on Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine.
Find a schedule of Bike to Work Week morning and afternoon commuter stations here.
The Enquirer over the weekend checked in with another of its “in-depth” pieces, this one detailing the huge amounts of money energy companies will make once they're allowed to treat northeastern Ohio's land like they do Texas. The story accurately described the fracking process as “controversial,” though it took the liberty of describing Carroll County as an “early winner” because 75 to 95 percent of its land is under lease to an oil or gas company. Here's a link to the weird slideshow-style presentation. And here's a sidebar on the issues surrounding fracking, which includes the following regarding the industry's oversight:
Fracking was exempted from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act under the Bush Administration, so it now falls under state jurisdiction. In Ohio, the Department of Natural Resources issues permits for all oil and gas wells, including fracking wells. The department also inspects the drilling of all wells in the state.
The New York Times came to Ohio to see how the good, working class folks feel about the president who has spent three-and-a-half years trying to help people like them during a recession he didn't start. Turns out many still won't vote for him because he's still black.
Madiera is a really nice suburb, and some residents plan to keep it that way by blocking developers from building luxury condos so “renters” can't move in and “alter the landscape of their charming suburb.”
Ohio State University has released a plan to combat hate crimes in response to several incidents on its campus this spring. The "No Place to Hate" plan includes 24 recommendations including a public safety division “hate crime alert” line staffed by operators. The OSU campus reportedly had a mural of President Obama defaced and found spray-painted messages supporting the death of Trayvon Martin.
Newsweek's May 21 cover shows Barack Obama with a rainbow-colored halo over his head and the headline, “The First Gay President.”
National media are talking about HBO's Weight of the Nation, a four-part documentary detailing America's obesity epidemic. CityBeat's Jac Kern told y'all about it last week.
John Edwards' defense attorneys are reportedly basing a lot of their case on the definition of the word “The.” That should go well.
satellite has taken an awesome 121-megapixel photo of Earth.
Hamilton County has been killing people more often than Ohio counties of similar size, despite actually asking for the death penalty less often. Today's Enquirer takes a look at the growing opposition to the death
penalty in other states and recent legislation and task forces aimed
at either studying its effectiveness or stopping the practice
altogether. Prosecutor Joe Deters says he's going to kill all the people who deserve it because the law is still the law.
Would you like to pay tolls or higher gas taxes in order to have a new Brent Spence Bridge? No? Then you're like a majority of people who take the time to respond to Enquirer polls.
City Manager Milton Dohoney plans to ask City Council to raise the property tax rate in response to a projected $33 million 2013 deficit that everyone knows was coming.
The Community Press on the East Side says Norfolk Southern is willing to consider selling the Wasson Way right of way that some would like to see turned into a bike trail. CityBeat in March found the proposed trail to have support among cycling enthusiasts but some resistance from light rail supporters.
President Obama hooked up an 11-year-old kid with a note excusing him from class on Friday.
“He says, ‘Do you want me to write an excuse note? What’s your teacher’s name?” Sullivan told ABC. “And I say, Mr. Ackerman. And he writes, ‘Please excuse Tyler. He was with me. Barack Obama, the president.'"
Fortune magazine has taken exception to Mitt Romney's recent criticism of Solyndra, the solar panel company that went out of business despite a $500 million Department of Energy loan.
So last Thursday Romney held a surprise press conference at Solyndra's shuttered headquarters. During his prepared statement, Romney said:
"An independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the Administration had steered money to friends and family and campaign contributors."
Romney then repeated the claim later in the press conference.
Small problem: No inspector general ever "concluded" such a thing, at least not based on any written reports or public statements.
Wisconsin Gov./Union Crusher Scott Walker holds a slight lead over his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, according to a recent poll.
George Zimmerman is back in jail after what his attorney is calling a misunderstanding over telling a judge that he had limited money even though a website set up to fund his legal defense raised more than $135,000.
Legal issues will be involved in New
York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to ban giant sodas.
Jason Alexander has released a lengthy and quite thoughtful apology for referring to the sport of cricket as "a bit gay" during a recent appearance on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.
Why do people on the West Coast get to see all the cool stuff that happens in space? First the eclipse and now the Transit of Venus, when Venus will cross paths between the sun and earth. Next time it will happen is 2117. And Australia got to see a partial lunar eclipse the other day, too.
• 10 percent off memberships all dayHours on opening day will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Free rentals
• Free parking
• Free ABC safety checks
• Lunchtime ride
• Evening ride