Bike Lanes Included as Part of Cincinnati’s Annual Street Rehabilitation Program

The City of Cincinnati kicked off its annual street rehabilitation program last week. This year’s program will focus work on 113 segments of roadway in 22 neighborhoods.

According to officials within Cincinnati’s Department of Transportation & Engineering (DOTE), the 2013 Street Rehabilitation Program will include work that replaces layers of deteriorated paving with new surfacing, fixes problem areas where needed, and then install new curb work as necessary.

While the primary focus of the program is to rebuild streets and curbs, it also offers the city the opportunity to implement components of its city-wide bike plan.

Gilbert Avenue Green Bike Lane
Recently installed bike lane with green markings on Gilbert Avenue heading south into the central business district. Image provided.

“Installing bike lanes in conjunction with the street rehabilitation program really gives us the best bang for our buck,” explained Mel McVay, senior city planner with the DOTE. “In this case, city council has already allocated money for repaving the street, so the cost to the bike program of the additional stripe for the bike lane is really minimal.”

Through this program, five streets will see new bike facilities installed over the course of the coming months as streets are rebuilt through the summer and fall.

The biggest stretch of roadway that will see a new bike facility installed under this program will be Winton Road in Spring Grove Village, where a 1.8-mile stretch will see a shared path put in place when the roadway is rebuilt.

In the West End and Queensgate, buffered bike lanes will be installed along Bank Street from Linn Street to Dalton Avenue. Meanwhile, bike lanes will be installed on Dalton Avenue between Linn Street and Eighth Street, and on Western Avenue between Hopkins Street and Findlay Street.

McVay says that the “buffered” bike lanes will include a striped buffer area of three to four feet separating the travel lane and the bike lane. Within the city, both Beechmont Avenue and E. Mitchell Avenue currently include buffered bike lanes.

The final piece of bike-related work to be completed as part of the 2013 Street Rehabilitation Program will be a climbing lane on Woolper Avenue between Vine Street and Clifton Avenue.

Additional bike projects are in the works besides the five to be completed as part of this program, but the lack of funding and political will continues to serve as barriers to doing more.

With the improvements on-tap for the remainder of this year, the City of Cincinnati will be just less than halfway toward its goal of installing 104 miles of on-street bike facilities by 2015

The Bicycle Transportation Plan, which was adopted in June 2010, includes an ultimate goal of installing 454 miles of on-street and off-street bike facilities by 2025.

“At this point, working with the street rehabilitation program is really our best opportunity to significantly increase the number of bike lanes around the city,” McVay concluded.

  • TimSchirmang

    Bike infrastructure makes a lot of sense as a transportation alternative to ever-expanding highways. Its combination of efficient functionality, recreation, and health is basically unmatched. For development purposes though, the friction (literal and figurative) between bikes and vehicles on the same road network needs to be respected as an ugly reality. Bikeways that can be developed off the street grid should be targeted as priority projects because they can promote the critical mass of bike users necessary to successfully change the status quo.

    Unfortunately it appears that a great asset to potential bike infrastructure is about to be lost – to a highway project no less – and prospects for a rebuild are basically zero. The plans for the new MLK interchange still include almost a dozen design options, and it appears that the elimination of the CL&N bridge over I-71 is a convenient way to eliminate one more design constriction. This bridge, along with the two intact tunnels, could be the core pieces of an independent bikeway extension from Xavier/Wasson Way to the 1) UC/medical centers (via MLK interchange plans) and 2) downtown.

    • There does seem to be some tension/conflict between automobile drivers and cyclists, but I think a lot of that has to do with either the driver or the cyclist not acting lawfully. In the case of the driver it is often them running a bicyclist off the road or out of a lane when they think the cyclist doesn’t belong there, which they do. In the case of the cyclist it is those who cut in and out of traffic and disobey traffic signals. I think both of these cases are the minority of both users, but it does certainly exist.

      With regards to building bikeways off the street grid, I don’t think that’s necessarily a great idea. In most cases off-street bike facilities accommodate recreational cyclists, not those that are using it as a mode of transportation. If the idea is to encourage people to use bikes as a mode of transportation, then you need the routes to follow transportation thoroughfares.

      Obviously there are exceptions to this, but generally speaking you want to put the bikes with regular traffic, as they are part of the regular car/pedestrian traffic. Bike trails are great, but they rarely get you where you need to be directly and efficiently.

    • TimSchirmang

      Certainly, the use of the path will be dictated by what it is proximate to. What I am suggesting is that bike paths can and should follow transportation corridors, without being right on top of them. There are a lot of folks that simply won’t explore transportation cycling until they can try it out on the safety of a dedicated bikeway – with some physical barrier. Once the benefits of a few trips are realized, riders will be more likely to use roadways to expand their biking network, but the inherent dangers of roadway biking, even if only perceived, will keep a lot of people from ever trying it in the first place. The adoption of biking-as-transportation would be vastly accelerated if the everyday Joe could try it out on a dedicated bikeway. A path along the eastern corridor has been talked about. The CL&N road has a lot of potential (until they tear the bridge down). The mill creek sewer project could incorporate a path perhaps.

  • Lack of political will? More like a lack of courage to stand up to the loud buy small minority of curmudgeons who have nothing better to do than cause a ruckus at community council meetings. The city adopted the bike plan, but where’s the follow-through? That planned bike facilities on Erie Avenue have been 100% scuttled is a joke, even more so that no improvements were made to the S-curve at all, it was just put back exactly the way it was.

    I think the city should front-end the process a bit more. Rather than waiting until construction starts to test out the new striping plan, put it down on the old pavement the year before. Yes it will cost a bit more to pressure-wash off the old paint (though at that point it will be relatively faded anyhow), but it means that if a problem is found in the new design, then there’s time to come up with a “Plan B” which can’t really be done now.

    • The situation you mention in Hyde Park is absurd. It’s amazing how differently people treat bike lanes as compared to whatever else we do with our roadways.

    • Mark Christol

      Hyde Parkers get POd when the utility companies paint up the streets.

    • Larry Parker

      I ride Erie a lot. What is the problem with the S curve? the lane is wide, there is room, I think it is a very safe place to ride. And, as much as I appreciate the uphill bike lane past the country club, I always shake my head at the downhill side. It is always full of debris, and really, where is the need when you have gravity helping you speed downhill? I prefer just the W-I-D-E lanes. Then when you move to make a left turn (like to go up Brotherton) you don’t get yelled at for being out of the bike lane.

    • The problem is inconsistent lane placement, inability to tell where parking starts and stops, many curb cuts, and blind turns. It’s a fast downhill, and you don’t know ahead of time if there might be parked cars near the curb, illegally parked cars (which I saw one today), and possibly debris in the road. The geometry changes too fast to react properly, and because of all this motorists swerve across lanes too.