by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:17 AM | Permalink
Million-dollar homes in OTR?; bill allowing unlicensed concealed carry proposed; South Carolina cop charged with murder over shooting of unarmed man
Good morning y’all. Let’s get right to the news. Are million-dollar homes coming to Over-the-Rhine? At least one of the city’s big movers and shakers thinks so. Reds owner Bob Castellini made that prediction last night during a speech at Music Hall for the Over-the-Rhine Chamber’s annual Star Awards, which spotlights the neighborhood’s growth and its business leaders. Castellini is on the board of 3CDC, the developer that is approaching $1 billion in projects completed in the neighborhood and downtown. He’s bullish on the idea that the once-neglected neighborhood will continue to see high-price new developments. He highlighted condos in 3CDC’s Mercer Commons development that have sold for more than $400,000 as one example of growing interest in high-end living in OTR. Following new development, median household incomes and property values have been going up in the historically low-income neighborhood in the last few years. That’s caused a lot of fanfare, but has also stoked fears about gentrification, apprehensions that came up again recently when a developer proposed $400,000 single-family homes in the neighborhood’s less-hyped northern area. Some advocates in the neighborhood say there isn’t affordable housing there.• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is shifting gears in his campaign for U.S. Senate. Sittenfeld’s campaign manager Ramsey Reid has left the Democrat’s team, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Sittenfeld’s campaign says his departure was planned from the beginning and that a new campaign manager and other new hires will be announced shortly. Sittenfeld recently ramped up his team, hiring a spokesman, a finance director and a polling specialist in his underdog primary battle against former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. Strickland is a heavy favorite to win the primary. He’s garnered an endorsement from former President Bill Clinton and is currently polling nine points ahead of Republican incumbent Sen. Rob Portman. Sittenfeld has been steadfast about staying in the race despite pressure from some Democrats to bow out. • If you need proof that the weather here really is a bummer and that you’re not just a big whiner, here it is. A new study by a popular meteorology blog called Brian B’s Climate Blog shows Cincinnati is ranked 5th in the country for major cities when it comes to dreary weather. The city tied for that… err, honor… with Cleveland and Lexington. Buffalo took the top spot, followed predictably by Seattle, Pittsburgh and Portland. The climate blog considered three factors in its rankings: total number of days with precipitation, total annual precipitation and total annual cloud cover. If you need more anecdotal evidence, just find your nearest window. • A new bill in the Ohio House would allow concealed carry in the state without a license if passed. The bill, proposed by State Rep. Ron Hood of Ashville, has 20 cosponsors and support from State Rep. Ron Arnstutz, the second-most powerful Republican in the House. Lots of dudes named Ron are into this idea, which makes me think of the ultimate Ron. Anyway, the bill would do away with licensing and training requirements for those who want to carry concealed weapons, limiting concealed carry only to those below the age of 21 or people who aren’t permitted to have guns due to their criminal background or other legal reasons. Five other states, including Kansas, have already approved unlicensed concealed carry, and 10 more states are considering similar measures. Gun rights groups have applauded the bill, but opponents, including law enforcement groups, say it will make the state less safe. • With bicycle commuting on the rise, both nationally and, I’m hoping, in Cincinnati, do we need better data collection practices from police when it comes to cyclist-car accidents? It seems that way, according to a study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study, summarized in this CityLab post, suggests that most data collection methods used by public safety agencies around the country are outdated and don’t consider the differences between cars and bikes and don’t make allowances for the different situations in which the two could collide. Better data could lead to safer bike infrastructure, the authors of the study say. • Finally, it’s almost becoming a sentence in which you can just fill in the blanks with the latest shooter and deceased. Michael Slager, a white police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina shot an apparently unarmed black man named Walter Scott over the weekend. The police incident report says that Scott had the officer’s taser and that Slager feared for his life. But a video taken by a bystander contradicts all of that, showing Slager firing eight rounds at Scott as he ran away. After Scott fell to the ground, Slager appears to casually drop something next to him. More officers soon arrived, though none are seen administering the CPR the police report alleges took place. Scott died at the scene. The incident has drawn national attention and a murder charge for Slager — a rarity perhaps brought about by the graphic and shocking video taken by a witness.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: Cycling
at 01:19 PM | Permalink
Melvin White charged with vehicular homicide in death of Andrew Gast
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. According to the press release, the Cincinnati Cycle Club and Queen City Bike are requesting that White receive the maximum penalty. 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.
by German Lopez
Plan Cincinnati seeks to make city friendlier to bikes and environment
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
“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
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.”
Urban trails offer a safe haven from automobile traffic, but more are needed
2 Comments · Wednesday, May 2, 2012
of years ago I was heading up William Howard Taft Road to Gilbert
Avenue and was nearing the intersection in the left turn lane when a
contractor’s van started tailgating me. The driver whaled on his horn
for me to move. Now, seriously, this guy had a gas pedal and could go
much faster than me.
Bike advocates offer tips on making the most of your commute
2 Comments · Wednesday, May 2, 2012
The light bulb that is Cincinnati’s
cycling culture is shining brighter than ever as more people switch out
steering wheels for handlebars for their morning and evening treks to
and from work. The reasons are multitude: to keep in shape, save a hunk
on gas, use green transportation or just to slip some fresh air into the
long days at the office.
by Danny Cross
Posted In: bikes
at 01:51 PM | Permalink
Cincinnati’s annual celebration of the two-wheeled lifestyle returns in May
It’s that time of the
year again — time to celebrate bicycles and the pleasant lifestyles
to which they contribute. It’s easy to understand the benefits of
riding a bike: exercise, better enjoyment and understanding of our
surroundings, less traffic and smog, etc. (When you’re riding a
bike you also get to worry less about the consistent military
struggles over resources in the Middle East and other places: “What
the [expletive] did I do?!?”)
May is officially Bike
Month, but celebratory events kick off this weekend with a Bike Art
Poster Party at Coffee Emporium 6:30-8 p.m. Friday and the Bike Month
Kick-Off Expo 2-4 p.m. Saturday at the downtown public library. The
Expo will include crafts, bike-related books and unique bikes on
exhibit such as a tall bike, bamboo bike and vintage, delivery and
preview in its cover story next week the many other Bike Month events
scheduled during May, in addition to some fun cycling tips and a
rundown of local cycling infrastructure and resources. (There might
also be a check-in with a local guy who doesn’t have a car to see
how things are going with him…)
The following are some
of the many events taking place in May, via Queen City Bike:Howl
at the Moon Ride: Explore city streets at night, top off with a
Along Wasson Way-:Walking tour along the proposed Wasson Way Biking
and Pizza: Tour the exhibit at the Museum center then ride to a
Femme: 50-mile female-only rideBike
Swap- sell, buy and trade bike goodsBikes
and Brews: bike pub crawlTeilen
Story Hour: Tell your story or come to listenBike
Prom: a formal bike rideRide
of Shame Brunch Ride: Roll out wearing your clothes from Saturday
a link to the official Bike Month calendar.
And check out last
year’s Bike Month cover package here (the image on this blog is last
year’s CityBeat cover, which garnered much praise/ridicule from the Stuff You Will Hate “Caption This Picture” contest).
by Hannah McCartney
at 11:40 AM | Permalink
Eight council members sign motion in support of construction
Bike advocates that have been holding their breath in hopes of seeing the Riverside Drive bike project come to fruition can exhale again, thanks to another change in the status of the project. The issue still hasn't been resolved, but on Wednesday supporters of the Riverside Drive bike lane project crossed a major barricade when a City Council meeting ended with every member present in agreement that the project should move forward without delay. The only council member who didn't cast a positive vote was Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who was out of town and unable to attend the meeting. The meeting garnered significant community support, including East End residents, business owners and Queen City Bike representatives. Last week, the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering (DOTE) announced that the project would be postponed for a year to two years in hopes of preventing traffic overflow on Riverside during the impending construction project scheduled for I-471. City Council's overwhelming support to ignore DOTE's recommendations means the project could move forward as scheduled. A Council Committee is likely discuss the issue and take a final vote in about two weeks. In the meantime, a social bike ride is scheduled to Saturday, March 31 along Riverside Drive, which will function as a "road rally" for the cause and hopefully garner more cycling commuters. According to Nern Ostendorf, Queen City Bike executive director, the ride will function as a "bike bus" on Riverside, which she explains will make the journey safer and less stressful for bikers wary of Riverside's unsafe conditions. Riders will meet at 6 p.m. on Fountain Square. Ostendorf, who is an avid cyclist, describes the commute on Riverside heading downtown during rush hour as "really intense." "There are a lot of really large trucks on that road, which is why cyclists are so wary of riding on there. Nobody's looking for a little cyclist on the side of the road," she says. The bike lane project would presumably create a significant buffer between the bike lane and the road, protecting cyclists from large trucks and speeding drivers. Cyclists say 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
by Jac Kern
Posted In: bikes
at 02:20 PM | Permalink
Local Pedal Wagon introduces a fun, green take on transportation
Have you spotted a giant, pedal-powered contraption rolling around town? No, we're not talking about tall bikes (though we do love us some crazy cyclists) — Pedal Wagon is a new venture from two Cincinnati-natives that offers a first-of-its-kind experience in the area.Jack Heekin and Tom O'Brian created
the Pedal Wagon to give locals a unique way to experience all the bars,
historical sites and landmarks Cincy has to offer. It works like this: about a dozen
passengers sit around a rectangular covered wagon with pedals underneath the seats.
Those passengers provide the power while a driver steers the wagon along. If you're too short to reach the pedals (which is the case if you're under 5-foot-3) or physical activity cramps your style, just relax on the bench and watch your friends do all the work!Pedal
Wagon made its debut inside February's Cincy Winter Beerfest, then hit the
streets of OTR for the recent Bockfest. Don’t worry about intoxicated drivers, though — passengers merely
provide power for the wagon, while a sober professional directs it and
controls the car-caliber breaks.Pedal Wagon offers various city cruises where
guests will be taken to area bars, Fountain Square, and other Downtown hot
spots. They also feature Pedal Parties, where individuals can rent the wagon
for 2 hours at just $30 a person. Alcohol is not allowed on the wagon itself,
unless on private property with permission to do so (like inside Cincy Beerfest). The crew plans to join forces with American Legacy Tours (Queen City
Underground, Newport Gangster Tour) for The Beer Barons and Bike Tour this May. For more information, or to book a cruise, call 513-201-ROLL or check out www.pedalwagon.com. Be sure to look out for the Pedal Wagon at Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade downtown!
0 Comments · Thursday, September 25, 2008
Danny Cross' article on cycling in Cincinnati ("No One Rides for Free," issue of Sept. 3) was passed to me today by a co-worker, and I read it with great interest. I took up cycling about eight years ago, and it's become a real passion.