by German Lopez
Cincinnati commuters spent an extra 37 hours on road due to traffic
Traffic can be awful — not just for drivers, but economies
and the environment as well. A study released Tuesday by the Texas A&M Institute
of Transportation found Cincinnati lost about $947 million in 2011 to delays on the road, coming in at No. 27 nationwide.The Annual Urban Mobility Report also ranked Cincinnati No. 37 nationwide for extra time stuck in traffic, with the average Cincinnati commuter
spending an extra 37 hours on the road in 2011.
In comparison, the average
Columbus commuter spent 40 extra hours in traffic in 2011, and the typical Cleveland commuter spent 31 extra hours. For all three cities, estimates were unchanged from 2010.Traffic jams also have a major impact on climate change. According to the report, congestion caused cars to produce an extra
56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide nationwide, with Cincinnati commuters producing 421
million pounds.The report shows why it’s important for governments to
reduce traffic congestion with transit projects like the Cincinnati streetcar. In general, public transportation leads to
less congestion by taking cars off the road as people use buses, streetcars and trains instead. But some cities have taken it even further. By adopting exclusive lanes for buses and
streetcars, cities like San Francisco have made public transportation more attractive, which makes people more likely to forsake
their own cars in favor of public alternatives.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
In line with the country’s increasing energy usage trends,
statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Agency found that China now
uses 47 percent of the world’s coal; its usage grew by 325 million tons
in 2011. WORLD -1
by German Lopez
Ohio unemployment standards, state approves projects, Cincinnati's transparent spending
A new analysis found Ohio has some of the toughest requirements
for unemployment benefits. The Policy Matters Ohio report shows
Ohio is the only state besides Michigan where a worker who makes minimum
wage for 29 hours a week would not qualify for unemployment compensation. Ohio’s
standards require workers to earn an average of at least $230 a week for at
least 20 weeks of work to qualify for benefits.
The state also does not allow unemployed workers seeking part-time work
to receive benefits, which is permissible in most other states. Every
state must set qualification standards for unemployment compensation,
which is supposed to hold people over while they search for work if
they’re laid off.
Ohio’s transportation projects council unanimously approved
32 different projects totaling more than $2 billion. The projects
approved by the Transportation Review Advisory Council come amidst
debate over Gov. John Kasich’s Ohio Turnpike plan, which leverages the
turnpike’s profits for renewed infrastructure spending. Ohio Department
of Transportation officials say they’re optimistic about the turnpike
plan and the bond revenue it will produce in the short term.
A new report from the Ohio Public Interest Research Group found Cincinnati is a lot more transparent about spending than Cleveland. Cincinnati got a B+ for spending transparency, while Cleveland got an F.
The city of Cincinnati and a union representing city workers are currently negotiating
an out-of-court settlement over a lawsuit involving the city's pension
program. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees (AFSCME) claimed in a 2011 lawsuit that the city is not
meeting funding requirements set by the Cincinnati Retirement System
Board of Trustees.
The local branch of the NAACP is facing increased tensions. Three former presidents
are calling for a national investigation to look into the local
branch’s relationship with the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and
Taxes (COAST), a local conservative group. City Council Member Chris Smitherman, current president of the NAACP’s local branch, has close ties with COAST, but the three former presidents say partnering with COAST is the wrong direction for the NAACP.
Some Ohio schools need to do more
to protect students from concussions. Many schools are already
improving standards in anticipation of a state law that goes into effect
in April, but some large school districts are falling behind. The new
law requires school districts educate parents and families about
concussions, train coaches in recognizing symptoms of head injuries and
pull injured or symptomatic students from the field until a doctor
clears a return. CityBeat wrote about head injuries and how they relate to the NFL and Bengals here.
President Barack Obama renominated
Richard Cordray, former Ohio attorney general, to head the Consumers
Financial Protection Bureau. The nomination could have repercussions for
the 2014 governor’s race; Cordray was seen as a potential Democratic candidate.
Lightning could be a source of headaches and migraines, according to a new University of Cincinnati study.
Catholic Health Partners and Mercy Health are looking to fill 80 positions.
The Ingalls Building, which was the world’s first
reinforced-concrete skyscraper when it was built in downtown Cincinnati
in 1903, was sold for $1.45 million.
A Catholic hospital chain killed a lawsuit by arguing a fetus is not a person.
IBM developed a warmth-activated gel that could kill superbugs and break up tough bacterial biofilms. Maybe humans won’t need panda blood after all.
by German Lopez
School report card reform passed, governors call for bridge tolls, casino to open March 4
School report card reform is about to head to Gov. John Kasich, who is likely to sign it. The bill, which places higher grading standards on
the Ohio Senate yesterday with some minor tweaks. The Ohio House is
expected to approve the bill again, and then Kasich will need to sign it
for it to become law. In an early simulation
of tougher report card standards in May, Cincinnati Public Schools
dropped from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current
system to a D-, with 23 schools flunking and Walnut Hills High School
retaining its top mark with an A.
The governors of Ohio and Kentucky agree tolls will be necessary
to fund the Brent Spence Bridge project. The governors also said there
will be a financing plan by next summer and construction will begin in
2014. Kasich and Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear met yesterday with U.S.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to discuss funding for the bridge
The Horseshoe Casino will open in Cincinnati on March 4. What can Cincinnatians expect? According to one Washington Post analysis, casinos bring jobs, but also crime, bankruptcy and even suicide.
Sewer rates in Hamilton County will go up next year, but not as much as expected.
Cincinnati has 1,300 properties awaiting demolition.
With same-sex marriage likely coming on the ballot in
2013, a Quinnipiac University poll found Ohio voters thinly oppose its
legalization 47 percent to 45 percent, but it’s within the margin of error of 2.9 percent. A Washington Post poll in September found Ohioans support same-sex marriage 52 percent to 37 percent — well outside of the poll’s margin of error of 4.5 percent. CityBeat recently wrote about the same-sex marriage legalization in Ohio here.
The same poll found Ohio voters deadlocked on whether
marijuana should be legalized with 47 percent for it and 47 percent
against it. The results are slightly more conservative than the rest of
the nation. Washington state recently legalized marijuana and same-sex
marriage in the same day, and the world didn’t end.
Ohio gained approval
on a coordinated Medicare-Medicaid initiative that will change funding
for low-income seniors who qualify for both public health programs. With
the go-ahead from the federal government, the plan will push forward in
coordinating Medicare and Medicaid more efficiently to cut costs.
But on the topic of a Medicaid expansion, Ohio will not make a final decision until February.
As part of Obamacare, states are encouraged to expand their Medicaid
plans to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. If they do it, the federal
government will pick up 100 percent of the tab through 2016. After that,
federal funding drops annually, eventually reaching 90 percent for 2020
and beyond. Previous studies found states that expanded Medicaid improved lives.
Another study found Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion saves states money
in the long term by reducing the amount of uncompensated health care.
Cleveland's The Plain Dealer says Gov. Kasich will not privatize the Ohio Turnpike, but he will ask for a toll hike to help finance new projects. Kasich will officially announce his plans later today.
With opposition from law enforcement, a Senate committee is pushing ahead with a bill that lessens restrictions on gun-carrying laws.
Redistricting reform will soon be taken up by the Ohio Senate. The measure passed committee in an 8-1 vote. Redistricting is often used by politicians to redraw district borders in politically beneficial ways.
Gov. Kasich signed into law a measure that cracks down
on dog breeders in Ohio. The measure has long been pushed by animal
advocates, who say lax regulations for puppy mills have made the state a
breeding ground for bad practices. CityBeat previously wrote about how these bad practices lead to abusive dog auctions in Ohio.Homosexuality may not be in our genes, but it may be in the molecules that regulate genes.
by Andy Brownfield
Comprehensive plan sets short-, long-term goals for development
Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday approved the first
comprehensive plan in the last 32 years to direct future city growth and
All eight present members of council voted in favor of the
plan, after a 10-minute “love-fest,” as Councilwoman Yvette Simpson put
it, praising one another and the team that created the plan. The
nine-member team worked on the comprehensive plan for the last three
Councilman Chris Smitherman was not present for the vote.
“I can’t use the term that Joe
Biden, our vice president used, but this is a big deal,” said Mayor Mark
Mallory, referencing an infamous gaffe where Biden uttered an expletive
into a hot microphone.
The 228-page plan emphasizes urban development over suburban, citing population movement back into city centers.
The plan focuses on key areas and offers proposals for the near-, middle- and long-terms.
These include proposals to stabilize residential and
business areas, improve quality of life, improve housing choices and
affordability and offer alternative means of transportation to
automobiles, including the controversial streetcar.
CityBeat previously covered the plan in depth.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 11:52 AM | Permalink
Transit company calls for public feedback
Metro is nearing completion of its new comprehensive transit plan.
Throughout the year, the nonprofit, tax-funded transit company
has worked on Way to Go, a plan with short-term and long-term goals
meant to revamp lines for faster, wider-ranging travel.
The plan, which is the first comprehensive plan since the
late 1990s and early 2000s, has a short-term part and a long-term
portion. Both parts came together with a lot of community feedback gathered through on-board surveys, stop-by-stop
analyses, online surveys, special event surveys and public meetings.
Sallie Hilvers, spokesperson for Metro, says the plan has a
lot of little changes to stops and lines, but she
emphasized some key parts. In the short term, the plan will establish
more crosstown connections, which will bring together
different parts of Cincinnati so traveling requires fewer downtown transfers.
Metro will also make a few changes to improve frequency of travel in major
corridors like Montgomery Road, Reading Road and Vine Street, while
shortening travel times all around.
For the short term, “We don’t have a lot of big changes,”
Hilvers says. “No routes are going away. There’s no fare increase
associated with this. It’s simply reallocating the resources.”
The long-term plan has bigger, more expansive changes. The
biggest part is probably the bus rapid transit system (BRT), which will
allow quicker travel in major corridors by using traffic signal
priority, fewer stops and special bus lanes. Stops will be getting a
makeover in some areas to be more comfortable for
passengers waiting for transfers. There will also be changes to improve
service at current stops, add more crosstown routes and add more routes
that go beyond downtown and into dense areas with lots of jobs. The long-term plan is currently unfunded, but public
opinion will help establish and reshape priorities before any money is
Hilvers says Metro will be doing a “demonstration project”
for BRT next year. In the demo, buses will “dart across” the
Montgomery Road corridor, Xavier University, the University of
Cincinnati and downtown. The plan will help gauge the popularity of the
idea, says Hilvers: “It gives us a test to see how people like this. If
they really like the concept, then we can maybe go for federal funding,
etc. to go for the full-blown BRT in the future.”
“You just have to have a vision of where you’re going,”
Hilvers says. “This is our vision of where we’re going. We have to know
from the community what it wants to ultimately support.”
Metro is still taking public feedback for the Way to Go until the end of the year.
More information on the plan and how to provide feedback can be found at
by German Lopez
A Hamilton County budget shortfall could force officials to cut more than 300 county
jobs, according to Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman. If the county doesn’t fix
its problems, it could fall into “fiscal emergency.” Officials are
worried some cuts could jeopardize functions required by state law. A
recent study found that the national unemployment rate would be at 7.1
percent if it wasn’t for government job cuts.More than $85 million has been awarded to local
transportation projects by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of
Governments. The funding will go to Metro buses, roads, traffic signals
and more.City Councilmember Charlie Winburn, the lone Republican on City Council, is thinking about running for mayor in 2013. Mayor Mark Mallory is currently serving his last term, so he will not be able to run again.Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will visit
Miami University Wednesday. Ryan graduated from Miami in 1992. Even
though he graduated from a public university, Ryan would massively slash
education funding if he got his way. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney
has endorsed Ryan’s budget.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he is considering
establishing uniform early voting hours statewide. Recently, Democrats
have been accusing Republicans of a statewide conspiracy to extend
voting hours in Democratic counties and shrink voting hours in
Republican counties.Ohio was the 13th fattest state in 2011, according to a new report from
the Center of Disease Control. Fortunately, Ohio managed to
stay under a 30 percent obesity rate, unlike the 12 fattest states.In the future, Ohio will be the ninth worst state to live
in, according to a new Gallup analysis. Ohio still beat
Kentucky, which ranked third worst. Not so fortunately, Utah topped the
ranks. I’ve been to Utah, and I prefer Ohio. I don’t trust your math,
Gallup!Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican who is also
running against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate, is
scheduled to appear with presidential candidate Mitt Romney today.
Mandel is also famous for earning the “Pants on Fire” crown from
Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer for his excessive lying in campaign ads.The Medicaid expansion does not have to be permanent,
according to federal officials. States can expand then scale back,
although it will cost federal funds. Medicaid expansions have been
proven to save lives and boost health, but Gov. John Kasich is still undecided about the expansion.The Cincinnati Museum Center earned top accreditation.Unmanned drones could soon be flying in domestic skies.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: Arts
at 10:44 AM | Permalink
Covington, Newport, Cincinnati taxis allowed to overlap service
In honor of the World Choir Games, the largest international event to ever take place in the Cincinnati region, city leaders have already taken several measures to step up the taxi infrastructure to cater to the some 20,000 participants expected to flood into the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region. As part of that initiative, the city of Cincinnati on Tuesday announced an agreement signed by Cincinnati city manager Milton Dohoney Jr. as well as city managers of Newport and Covington, Ky., agreeing to allow licensed taxicabs to freely commute and transport passengers across city lines from July 1-15. This differs from normal taxi law, in which a Covington driver who picked up passengers in Covington and transported them to Cincinnati, for example, would be barred from picking up another group of passengers within Cincinnati limits, instead required to go back to Covington to seek business. Licensed taxi drivers who wish to take part of the integrated system are required to attend a "Hospitality Session" hosted by the City of Cincinnati, which will offer recommendations for interacting with international visitors and offer drivers World Choir Games schedule information. With completion of the session, drivers will earn a purple World Choir Games placard for their car, signifying their ability to commute across the river. In May, City Council voted to approve a number of changes to the Cincinnati taxi system, to be implemented over a series of three stages, beginning July 1 to coincide with the influx of the World Choir Games. Changes included increased fares, an expanded arsenal of taxi stands and improved signage.
by Hannah McCartney
at 12:38 PM | Permalink
Inaugural meeting open to all
Ever thought about jumping aboard the electric car train? Do your research and communicate with others also seeking more sustainable methods of transportation. The inaugural meeting of the Cincinnati Electric Car Club will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 10 at Cincinnati Hybrid at 6403 Madison Road. The meeting is open to all community members, especially targeted to those thinking about buying or building an electric vehicle seeking a support group, anyone who wants to further advocate the use of electric cars in Cincinnati, or current hybrid or plug-in electric cars hoping to network with other owners. If you own a hybrid or an electric car already, you're encouraged to bring your car along so it can be put on display along with others. Because the club is a recent development, the first meeting will discuss strategies for future meetings and the club's purpose as a whole. Here is an itinerary, according to a press release, for the first meeting:6:30-7 p.m.: Examine hybrid and fully electric vehicles on display and chat informally with the cars' owners. 7-7:30 p.m.: Brief presentations by Duke Energy about their electric fleet and charging infrastructure and Cincinnati Hybrid on maintaining and servicing electric vehicles. 7:30-8:30: The first organizational meeting will seek input on the group's goals, how it should be organized, future activities and meeting frequency. RSVP to Steve Johns at email@example.com if you'd like to attend. Be sure to indicate if you have a hybrid or electric vehicle you'd like to display.
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