Cincinnati Seeking Feedback on Two Bike Infrastructure Projects

The City of Cincinnati is studying two new streets for potential bicycle enhancements, and officials with the Department of Transportation & Engineering (DOTE) are looking for the public’s feedback.

The first project is on Delta Avenue where they are considering adding a five-foot bike lane on both sides of the street, and the second is a larger project along Central Parkway that is considering adding either striped bike lanes or physically separated cycle tracks along a 2.2-mile stretch of the roadway.

Delta Avenue Bike Lanes
The Delta Avenue project will take place between Columbia Parkway and Erie Avenue, but will not impact Mt. Lookout Square. DOTE officials say that the schedule calls for repaving to begin in early 2014.

Right now planners and engineers are looking at two options for Delta Avenue. One option would maintain the existing roadway conditions that include two 10-foot travel lanes and two 18-foot travel/parking lanes.

Delta Avenue Proposed Section

The second option would modify this layout to include two 5-foot bike lanes, two 10-foot travel lanes, one 9-foot left turn lane, and two 8-foot parking lanes.

The proposed reconfiguration, DOTE officials say, would provide safety benefits for bicyclists, pedestrians and automobile drivers, and is similar to what was recently installed on Madison Road between Woodburn Avenue and O’Bryonville.

In addition to improving bicycle accessibility along Delta Avenue, the new bike lanes would connect into the recently installed bike lanes on Riverside Drive, which will be extended into the downtown area later this year.

“Delta Avenue is a primary cycling route from Riverside and downtown to the city’s eastern neighborhoods, and these plans will help to calm traffic and make the street safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists,” Queen City Bike president Frank Henson stated.

Those interested in sharing their feedback regarding the Delta Avenue project can do so by visiting the City of Cincinnati’s webpage for the project and answering a few brief questions.

Central Parkway Cycle Tracks
The larger Central Parkway project is planned to be built in two phases, with the first phase of work stretching from Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine to Marshall Avenue in Fairview.

Neighborhoods along the first phase of the project have already been approached about the project, and the City of Cincinnati received a $480,000 Transportation Alternative grant from the federal government, administered through the OKI Regional Council of Governments, in June 2013.

This portion of the work is being studied in three separate segments due to existing roadway configuration.

Dearborn Street Two-Way Cycle Track
City officials are looking into the possibility of installing a two-way cycle track along Central Parkway – similar to Chicago’s two-way cycle track on Dearborn Street. Image provided by Active Transportation Alliance.

The first segment is from Elm Street to Liberty Street, and due to the median that divides Central Parkway there, it is considered unfeasible to have a two-way cycle track. As a result, the DOTE is considering only two options – the existing road with no enhancements or one-way cycle tracks on both sides of the street.

The second segment being studied in phase one is from Liberty Street to Brighton Avenue, and is studying three options in addition to the existing conditions. The first would be a 14-foot, two-way cycle track on the west side of the street, the second would be 7-foot-wide one-way cycle tracks on both sides of the street, and the third would be 5-foot bike lanes on both side of the street.

The final segment within the first phase of the Central Parkway project is from Brighton Avenue to Marshall Avenue. Here, the same three options are being considered as for the second segment. The only difference being the two-way cycle track on the west side of the street would be 12 feet wide instead of 14 feet.

“Adding a cycle track to Central Parkway will create a safer, family-friendly space for people on bicycles and will exponentially increase the number of people using bicycles in this corridor,” explained Mel McVay, senior city planner with Cincinnati DOTE. “This project is a game changer for Cincinnati – it has the ability to completely change the way people feel about riding bicycles in our city.”

Those looking to share their thoughts on which design option would be best can do so by completing a very short survey on the Central Parkway project’s webpage.

The second phase of work along Central Parkway would then progress northward from Marshall Avenue to Ludlow Avenue, where the city’s first green bike lanes were installed in November 2012. The details have not yet been worked out for this phase of work, but will progress as soon as funds become available.

“Both of these projects would be extremely beneficial if completed,” noted Queen City Bike executive director Nern Ostendorf. “What bike lanes and especially cycle tracks do is they expand the accessibility of biking on city streets to more users who consider biking on roads without special bike facilities too dangerous, or at least too stressful.”

This story was originally published in the July 19, 2013 print edition of the Cincinnati Business Courier. UrbanCincy readers are able to take advantage of an exclusive digital membership and access all of the Business Courier‘s premium content by subscribing through UrbanCincy‘s discounted rate.

  • Neil Clingerman

    This is good news – I use the 2-way cycle track on Dearborn all the time (its great, though the only bad thing is pedestrian traffic is so heavy and the track so new, that people aren’t expecting bicycles to go counter flow against the one way traffic on the street – those problems won’t exist on Central however as its two way and there isn’t that volume of pedistrians in the area).

    The only issue I see is how are they going to transition the cycle tracks from one way to two way provided that that alternative is selected?

  • Mark Christol

    The track idea sounds absolutely terrible. As Mr Clingerman notes, it’s counter-intuitive. Further it takes bikes further away from being viable roadworthy vehicles in people’s minds.
    Other than right turn lanes & ramps, Central Parkway is pretty ridable already.
    McMicken woud be nicer if they could keep it clean. I abandoned that route due to all the flats I got.

    • I don’t think Neil made that argument.

      In either case, I think cycle tracks are very valuable for bicyclists and take bikes closer to being viable roadworthy vehicles. The issue, as many cities have discovered, is that many potential cyclists are scared from taking to the roads due to the hostile environment that they perceive to exist there (whether valid or not). Cycle tracks make those individuals, which are the vast majority of people, much more comfortable out on the roads. Cycle tracks make even more sense when put on busy, fast-moving roadways like Central Parkway.

      I personally like the idea of a two-way cycle track because it gives the cyclists a greater amount of dedicated space. In the cases where there isn’t traffic moving in both directions, then friends can ride next to one another, which is really quite enjoyable.

      In the case of Central Parkway it makes even more sense because all the curb cuts are on the east side of the street. So having a two-way cycle track on the west side of the street will make it much safer and approachable for cyclists.

    • Mark Christol

      Sorry – I didn’t mean to imply Mr Clingerman was arguing a point, I was just pointing out his anecdotal comment.
      I know you guys think I’m crazy bringing up the idea that bikes will be shut out of the common roadway with these gimmicks but check out the book, “Fighting Traffic” to see the insidious tactics the automobile lobby used to redefine streets from what they had been for thousands of years to what they are now in just a couple decades.

    • I totally agree with you about how the automobile lobby worked to redefine roadways, but I don’t think that on-street cycle tracks play into that.

    • Mark Christol

      They will capitalize on every concession they can get.

    • Neil Clingerman

      As Randy stated, this is not what I was arguing. To make myself more clear, Central Parkway is a great place for a 2-way cycle track, probably better than the example Randy provided from Chicago, with my only concern being the transition from South of Liberty to North of Liberty when it goes from 2 1-way cycle tracks to one 2-way cycle track. This transition sounds like it would need something special done to the striping in the road to make it viable as a safe route for cyclists.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Put the 2-way bike path the median south of Liberty St. Underpass Ezzard Charles Dr. in the subway tunnel.

  • I disagree that a two-way cycle track on Central Parkway is the best solution, mainly because it would put northbound cyclists next to southbound vehicular traffic. The amount of separation/protection is marginal, so it would feel quite dangerous on the one hand, and it IS more dangerous if a car happens to swerve into the cycle track due to speed differential. The curb cuts are a valid concern, but they see very little use overall compared to what they could be. In general, the one-way cycle tracks, like bike lanes, are just better integrated into the street engineering, and that’s the standard practice in countries with high cycling mode share like Denmark and the Netherlands. They never do two-way cycle tracks except in rural areas where they’re basically separate paths at that point anyway.

    • There is both a 4′ buffer and an 11′ parking lane that would separate the two-way cycle track from moving traffic. During parking restricted hours, cyclists would still have the 4′ buffer with posts in it separating the cyclists from any potential moving traffic.

      These parking restricted hours would only be from 7-9am during the weekdays for that southbound traffic. What that equates to is cyclists having only the 4′ buffer with posts separating them from moving traffic 10 hours out of the week, or approximately 6% of the time.

      You can see what I’m talking about by looking at the cross-section here:

    • Yes but that 7-9 time is also when there’s going to be the most traffic next to the cycle track, though admittedly bike traffic would likely be heaviest going in the same direction rather than opposite. Plus with on-street parking so rarely used on Central Parkway anyway, you’re still going to have a lot of people driving in that lane at all times of the day, especially north of Brighton.

      Either way, that doesn’t negate my comment that the two-way cycle track is NOT best practice in places that build cycling infrastructure regularly, so we shouldn’t be considering inferior options when better ones still work in the available space. The plan for the one-way cycle tracks has enough room for riders to pass one another or to ride two abreast, and with the vehicular lanes being 10 feet instead of 11 like in the two-way cycle track plan it will help a little bit to keep speeding under control.