On-Bike Advertising, System Expansion On-Deck for Cincy Red Bike

Cincy Red Bike Phase 1 MapCincy Red Bike has been in operation for nearly six months. So far, city leaders and system operators are encouraged by the more than 600 members and roughly 18,000 trips that have been made during that time. As a result, many are now calling for the system’s expansion as it heads into the best six weather months of the year.

As of now, Cincy Red Bike’s system includes 30 stations throughout Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Clifton Heights, Clifton, Corryville, University Heights and Avondale. While 263 bikes were originally purchased, the bike share system’s executive director, Jason Barron, says that there are normally around 220 bikes deployed, and that the number has dropped to as low as 140 during recent heavy snow events.

Barron told UrbanCincy that the goal was to reach 52,000 rides in the first year of operations. While Cincy Red Bike has so far provided approximately one-third of that, they say they are undeterred.

“We are obviously under that projection so far, but that assumes linear ride rates,” he explained. “Because of the weather, we do not expect to be above the pace so far. What we do know is that we had huge numbers in our first month, which was decent weather, and we have seen a great spike on decent weather days in the winter.”

When comparing Cincinnati’s performance to other cold weather peers, Barron’s optimism appears to be justified. In January, for example, Cincy Red Bike logged around 1,800 rides, while the system in Indianapolis had just 1,200.

While opening up to cold weather months may seem like a rough way to start a system, Barron says that it was, in part, intentional to have a slow start period in order to have time to learn how to make modifications to the system and its operations.

One of those lessons learned is that stations like the one at Main/Orchard are far more popular than what was originally anticipated. This falls in line with national research that shows stations located in densely populated residential clusters are more heavily used than those located by landmarks. As a result, the next round of expansion will most likely include stations situated in those types of locations.

“The three busiest stations, by a factor of a third, are Fountain Square, 12th/Vine and Main/Orchard,” noted Barron. “We will start to look at areas in the West End like Linn Street, Bank Street, City West and maybe Brighton. We have to look and see where there are opportunities to connect people and make a difference in their lives.”

Beyond the West End, most additional stations, which cost approximately $50,000 each, will most likely be placed near the existing service area, but much has recently been made about an expansion across the river into Northern Kentucky. Since political discussions, permitting and fundraising are still underway, Barron was naturally hesitant to discuss specific details about the number or location of new stations.

“Public space is at a premium. The trick is finding a place where people want to be, but that is also available.”

A recent partnership between Cincy Red Bike and The Enquirer yielded over 1,000 location suggestions for new stations. In addition to Northern Kentucky, Barron says that Northside and Walnut Hills were also top choices.

Rumors have it that there will be 10 to 12 stations to open initially in Covington, Newport and Bellevue; while, in Cincinnati, Northside may be the next neighborhood to be graced with a station near Hoffner Park.

What is confirmed is that four new stations will be installed in Cincinnati in March, and Barron says the goal is to roll out the initial expansion into Northern Kentucky later this summer. Like Uptown and Downtown, bike share operators clearly see Kentucky’s densely populated river cities as a major opportunity.

“It’s not enough to just launch in Northern Kentucky. We need to launch successfully,” Barron said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to raise all the funds we need to roll this out right.”

Fundraising continues to be a significant matter for Cincy Red Bike, which was launched, with much acclaim, under the auspice that it would primarily be funded with private contributions. While financial data has not yet been released, Barron says that they have been hitting their targets and plan to unveil on-bike sponsorship opportunities in the coming months.

“We going to be building out a bit here or there, but we really want to go where we think we can activate new ridership bases,” said Barron. “Really, though, I can’t wait for spring.”

VIDEO: Cincinnati Installs First Overhead Streetcar Wires In More Than 50 Years

Construction crews recently began installing the first overhead wires for the Cincinnati Streetcar. The initial installations took place just over a week ago in Over-the-Rhine. It marks the first time in more than 50 years that overhead streetcar wires have been in place over Cincinnati streets.

During the early discussions about this starter line for the modern streetcar system, skeptics had charged that the overhead wires would serve as an eyesore and a target for vandals. While it is too early to tell if vandals will have any interest in tampering with the overhead wires, it is now evident just non-intrusive overhead wires are for modern transit systems.

Unlike the systems from over a half-century ago, sleek poles support a single neatly strung wire over the street. Also unlike overhead wires of past, this wire will be strung approximately 19 feet above the ground in order to make it more resistant to tampering, and to keep the live current safely away from pedestrians and cyclists below.

Accordingly, the construction of the starter streetcar line is also bringing all new traffic signals and utility poles to the streets along the route.

Following the same pattern as track installation, the first overhead wires were installed along Elm Street near Washington Park. The overhead wire system will carry a 750-volt direct current that will provide the power to run the streetcar vehicles, and project officials say that it will be installed in a slight zig-zag pattern above the streetcar track in order to make sure the pantograph on the streetcar vehicles wears evenly over time.

The above video was put together by CitiCable in its ongoing documentation of streetcar construction work.

Phase One of Ohio River Trail West Secures $1.3M in Funding

River West Working Group has announced that the western leg of the Ohio River Trail through Cincinnati has been awarded a $1 million Federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality grant. An additional funding commitment of $261,000 from the City of Cincinnati’s Bicycle Transportation Program brings the total to $1.3 million.

Project leaders say that the money will be put toward construction of the first phase of the bikeway and greenway project along Cincinnati’s western riverfront.

“We greatly appreciate the initiative of the City’s Department of Transportation & Engineering in developing and submitting the grant application, and the support of Mayor John Cranley, who set up the bike program funding that seeded the Federal grant,” said Tom Croft, co-chair of River West Working Group.

Croft, a Price Hill community activist, also credited the work of ODOT, OKI Regional Council of Governments, State Senator Bill Seitz (R), and Representatives Bill Blessing (R) and Lou Terhar (R).

The first phase of work will extend roughly 3.7 miles downriver from the planned Price Landing park to the Gilday Recreation Center. The recently allocated funds will go toward constructing more than half of this phase of work.

The overall plan for Ohio River Trail West is a 28-mile bikeway and greenway network, separated from nearby roads, that serves as a connection between Smale Riverfront Park and Shawnee Lookout.

The river alignment of this trail makes it unique to any other east/west corridor on Cincinnati’s west side in that it does not traverse steep or extended hills. Such an orientation will allow cyclists the opportunity to get to the trail and have a level path into the city center.

Due to the relationship of the project to the existing freight railroad lines, project leaders say that additional coordination is needed before the group is able to move forward with the third segment of work within the first phase of construction activities.

“We are not going to announce work on that until we have negotiated some type of agreement”, Dave Zelman, co-chair of River West Working Group told UrbanCincy.

Further complicating matters is that the City of Cincinnati recently worked with the freight railroad companies to rebuild the four tracks along that stretch in recent years. Regardless, neighborhood leaders and project proponents are confident that the work will progress and serve as a major benefit for the communities along the corridor.

“The Ohio River Trail West is a big factor in the ongoing revitalization of our western Hamilton County neighborhoods, many of which are underserved by this kind of amenity,” concluded Zelman. “It will encourage access to the Ohio River and its surrounding hillsides, our greatest natural assets.”

All Aboard Ohio Cincinnati Chapter to Meet at Pi Pizzeria This Tuesday

All Aboard Ohio will be hosting another local chapter meeting in Cincinnati on Tuesday, February 10 at 6pm. The meeting is free and open to the public, but those who attend are encouraged to sign up as members for the non-profit advocacy group.

This month’s meeting will take place at Pi Pizzeria at 199 E. Sixth Street. The recently opened restaurant has become known for selecting their restaurant location due to its location on the starter line for the Cincinnati Streetcar system, and for paying a base $10.10/hour minimum wage.

“We want to thank Pi Pizzeria owner Chris Sommers and his staff for hosting us,” said Ken Prendergast, Executive Director of All Aboard Ohio. “If you haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet you are in for a treat.”

Cincinnati City Councilman Wendell Young (D) will serve as the special guest speaker at the quarterly local chapter meeting.

Prendergast says that the group will discuss updates related to the ‘Extend The Hoosier‘ campaign that is aiming to establish daily intercity rail service between Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Chicago; the Cincinnati Streetcar; and provide updates on what is happening with the Wasson Light Rail Line project.

While All Aboard Ohio has been around for years, the organization is experiencing a resurgent base of supporters as of late, particularly in the Cincinnati region where several rail projects are currently under development.

Prendergast says that those who want to can do so for just a $35 annual membership fee, and that those dues to toward supporting these projects and are tax deductible.

UrbanCincy Proud to Partner in Launch of Streetsblog Ohio

Nearly eight years ago UrbanCincy came to life. The original purpose was to shine a more positive light on the things happening in our city. Over time that vision has been refined as conditions have changed locally.

Instead of focusing squarely on Downtown and Over-the-Rhine, UrbanCincy now covers urbanist news city-wide and has branched out into surrounding urban communities like Hamilton and Middletown.

Over these years many blogs have come and gone, and the local media landscape has continued to evolve. What I believe has made UrbanCincy successful over the years is our great team of contributors that have incredible knowledge about the topics on which they report.

As commented by CityBeat staff in the 2014 Best of Cincinnati awards, “UrbanCincy proved a great resource for local news in the past year, with storytelling charts and in-depth reporting shining light on issues that otherwise go ignored in local media. Its transit and infrastructure experts write with depth on issues difficult for non-beat writers to regularly cover. The best part is UrbanCincy provides all its content for free on its slick website, showing once again that good reporting doesn’t need paywalls.”

By the way, you can go in and vote for us now in this year’s Best of Cincinnati awards. We are nominated for Best Blog, Best Twitter Feed and Best Website in the Public Eye section.

This focus and expertise has firmly aligned UrbanCincy with the mission of Streetsblog. Naturally, we have been a member of the Streetsblog Network for many years and has championed the organization and worked toward its growth. That is why we are so proud to celebrate the launch of Streetsblog Ohio.

This has been something we at UrbanCincy have been coordinating with Streetsblog Network over the past several years. In addition to the new Ohio site, Streetsblog also launched regional sites in Texas, St. Louis and the Southeast last Friday.
Streetsblog Ohio
“These sites run on a different model than our other city-based Streetsblogs with full-time staff,” explained Ben Fried, Editor-in-Chief at Streetsblog. “Each Streetsblog affiliate syndicates material from several blogs in its region and runs a daily dose of headlines to satisfy the universal craving for morning news.”

Of course, we at UrbanCincy are not doing this alone. While we are producing the daily news roundup for Ohio, we are joined by five other sites – GreenCityBlueLake, Rustwire, Columbus Underground, Transit Columbus and Notes from the Underground – in sourcing content for Streetsblog Ohio.

This is an innovative new approach to news production in the 21st century and we are proud to say that Cincinnati is not just passively involved, but is an active leader in the movement.

“For readers, we hope these sites will unearth stories that might have been overlooked before,” Fried noted. “So much good stuff comes over the wire of the Streetsblog Network, which now collects feeds from more than 400 member blogs, we just can’t highlight all of it. The new format should bring more of this reporting and commentary to the surface for our audience.”

We are excited about the future as our eighth anniversary this approaches this May. UrbanCincy continues to develop new partnerships and will be unveiling several more exciting changes in the months to come. Thanks for reading.