Bicycling shifts gears in Cincinnati’s urban basin

Bike Month festivities may have concluded at the end of May, but activities for cyclists in Cincinnati seem to keep growing regardless of the month. The Urban Basin Bicycle Club (UBBC) is one of the newer activities for bicyclists, and features a different night ride every Tuesday.

“The Thursday night rides, which begin and end in Hoffner Park in Northside, with a stop at Fountain Square, seemed kind of backwards,” explained UBBC founder Casey Coston. “Sometimes people from the basin would join the group at the half-way point at Fountain Square, then ride back to Northside and back downtown. It seemed cumbersome.”

To make things easier for the growing number of bicyclists in the downtown area, the UBBC starts each of their weekly rides at Fountain Square, and ends somewhere in Over-the-Rhine or the Central Business District. So far, the bicycling club has ended their rides at a variety of locally owned watering holes including Neon’s Unplugged, Mayberry, MOTR, The Drinkery and The Lackman.

The Urban Basin Bicycle Club gathers on Fountain Square before departing for a ride through the center city. Photograph by 5chw4r7z.

The popularity of these social bicycling groups has grown throughout the city over recent years, with the UBBC boasting close to 500 followers on Facebook, and approximately 20 to 50 people on each of their rides.

The basin has also seen the opening of three new bicycle businesses over the past month. Reser Bicycle Outfitters opened a location on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine, a new bicycle repair shop just began operations on Central Parkway adjacent to Segway of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Bike Center opened at Smale Riverfront Park.

While the new businesses are a sign of progress, Coston cautions that the city still has a long way to go before it rests.

“There is still a lot of hostility towards sharing the road with bicyclists,” explained Coston. “Our bike lines are also something of a decidedly mixed batch. For example, Gest Street inexplicably has bike lanes on both sides; moreover they were filled with debris and sand. Bike lanes that actually mean something and connect you to places that you need to go would be helpful.”

The sentiment expressed by Coston comes just after the public gave the City of Cincinnati a “C” grade on its annual Bicycle Report Card. In that survey, cyclists gave the City the lowest grades for the completeness of its bicycle network, and the respect shown to bicyclists by motorists.

In terms of improving the system, 85 percent of the respondents to the survey said that they would bike more if the City installed more bike lanes.

“We’re working to create a bicycle friendly city, so that Cincinnatians of all ages and abilities can use bicycles for everyday trips,” stated Michael Moore, Director of the Department of Transportation & Engineering (DOTE), in a prepared release. “This report card is a great tool for publicly measuring our progress.”

In the meantime, those interested in joining the weekly Urban Basin Bicycle Club rides should meet at Fountain Square on Tuesday nights at 6:30pm. The next scheduled ride will take place on Tuesday, July 19. Follow the group on Facebook for updated information about upcoming rides and events.

  • The lack of bike lanes downtown is unfortunate and frustrating. I would think some kind of demarcated urban route from the bike center at the riverfront up through OTR and back would be inevitable but has not yet come to fruition. Does anyone know of a plan to put bike lanes downtown? I can personally attest to drivers not wanting to share the road with cyclists. I have had some scary moments with drivers choosing to ignore the 3 ft. distance law.

  • Next up Cincinnati Sunday Streets, Vine St closed to cars from Second St to 12th on select Sundays during the summer so people cane enjoy The Banks, Fountain Square and Washington Park easily and stress free.

    • Is this a real event, or just an idea?

    • Just an idea, I wonder how hard it would be to push that through council?

    • Bogota, Colombia does it every Sunday too. Although they close down a ton of streets and people love it since those same streets are clogged with vehicles and air pollution the rest of the week.

    • Lima, Peru does this too. Every Sunday they close Arequipa Avenue which is a 52-block avenue that crosses the city from downtown to the west side of the city. They close the avenue to motor traffic and is open to bikes, rollerblades and pedestrians. In big cities like Lima (around 10 million) pollution and major traffic chaos has become a pressing issue, the city and the government support alternative methods of transportation because the problem of traffic has become too big to handle.

    • Caracas venezeula does it every Sunday too…. Exercise is a great barrier breaker !

  • The city likes to hear people say where they bike. Seriously, leave a friendly comment to the Cincinnati bike program telling them where you’d like a lane, and they’ll look into it. Or just tell them where you bike. If you don’t speak up you won’t be heard.

    Also, email Michael Moore directly about Riverside Drive. This “bicycling advocate” seems to be dropping the bike lanes in favor of motorists. This is a very important corridor that we need as a bicycling community.

    Other than that, thanks, Casey. Variety is the spice of life and I’m glad there’s more than one group ride.

  • sirthought

    Randy, you don’t have a comments section to your recent post on gentrification in downtown zip codes, so I am posting here.

    That linked piece is completely irresponsible and flawed. The person who wrote it should be embarrassed. I hope you consider removing it, as so many people link to your site for information.

    As several commenters say on that website, using a change in white population is one of the last things you should actually look at to measure gentry. Income, rental and housing prices, crime and services. And only when you measure race as a percentage of overall population can it be truly a measure of how much a neighborhood has changed.

    • Thanks for the feedback. Our new Up To Speed section is meant to share perspectives from around the world that may have some relevance to Cincinnati. We do not necessarily agree or disagree with the views and perspectives shared in those stories, but we do think it might be of interest to our readers. Certainly there are some very questionable things about how the person did their calculations, but we wanted to leave that up to our readers to judge for themselves.

      At this time our Up To Speed posts do not allow commenting, but you raise a good point. We will work on that and see if we can update our system to allow commenting on those posts as well as our original content.

      Thanks for reading!

    • sirthought

      I’d also like to add that I have your content fed to me through an RSS subscription. So when I see a story headline, I can’t tell that I’m not linking to your site. One would assume it’s something you are producing, but it throws you off to be taken to a completely foreign site, versus a post on your site where you are snipping and attributing the other site. Strong difference when a blogger is attempting to give their own spin on a topic.

    • Thanks for your feedback. When we launched the Up To Speed section a few months ago, we tried to model it after other popular “link blogs” online. One of the choices we made is for the article link to go directly to the source article, not to the “post” on UrbanCincy consisting of a short excerpt.

      We will be making some changes soon to make it more clear to RSS subscribers which of our post are original content and which are Up To Speed links. We will also provide a link to the page where we have shared the excerpt, and allow readers to comment on our shared links.