With Membership Rates Set, Cincy Red Bike to Begin Operations Monday

Those eager to sign-up for the region’s first bike share program found out at some point last week that the system was open. It marked the first time anyone was able to purchase annual memberships through Cincy Red Bike, and it also was the first time rates were revealed.

What those early members found out was that annual memberships cost $80 and daily rentals will cost $8. UrbanCincy has revealed that both of these rates are among the highest of B-cycle’s markets, but comparable to the other large cities served by the nation’s largest bike share company.

Part of the benefit for Cincy Red Bike members is the fact that the Cincinnati system is part of B-cycle’s national network. This means that their membership cards will also work in most any of B-cycle’s nearly two-dozen network cities.

B-cycle cities such as Austin, Denver, Fort Worth, Indianapolis and San Antonio all have the same annual membership rates as Cincinnati, but those amounts are slightly higher than the $75 annual fee charged for users in Chicago, Columbus and Washington D.C. where Montreal-based Bixi operates systems.

New York’s Citi Bike, which is also operated by Bixi, is the nation’s most expensive with $95 annual memberships.

In most cases the daily memberships cover an unlimited number of 30-minute rides. Bike share planners say that this is to encourage the use of the bikes for small trips and ensure high turnover.

Cincy Red Bike, however, will be a bit unique in that its $8 daily memberships will allow for an unlimited number of rides up to 60 minutes – making it one of just a handful of cities nationwide. The thought is that the longer ride period will allow for a better customer experience without damaging the performance of the system.

The longer check outs will lead to fewer people who don’t fully understand the pricing structure and therefore accidentally get charged user fees,” explained Cincy Red Bike executive director Jason Barron. “This is good from a customer satisfaction standpoint, but it is also good in that we will spend less time and resources dealing with unhappy customers.”

Those who go over that 60-minute time period will be charged $4 for each additional 30 minutes up to a total of $50 in added charges. Those who do not return the bike at all will be charged $1,200.

Cincy Red Bike locations

As of this point all of the 260 bikes and 30 stations have been put together and installed throughout Downtown and Uptown. Barron says that the system will officially go into operation on Monday, September 15 at 10:30am during a ceremony led by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley (D) at The Banks.

Those who have already purchased memberships will be receiving their cards by mail next week, but Barron says that they can use the system through their membership prior to receiving their card by simply using the credit card tied to their account.

Those who have not yet purchased their memberships can do so online, and are encouraged to download the free B-cycle Now smartphone application to location stations and bike availability.

Art to Inspire at September’s SSOM Event this Sunday

SSOM Music LineupNine years ago the organizers of Second Sunday on Main (SSOM) envisioned an event that would act as an economic development tool but was disguised as a street festival.  Today, that vision has more than come to fruition, as it is now a hub for local goods, food and entertainment.  This month will be no exception, with a full lineup of performers, artists, musicians, dancers and vendors.

Caitlin Behle, SSOM organizer and UrbanCincy contributor, explained that each month’s event has a distinctive theme.

“Last month was very game-oriented and playful, whereas this month will be more arts-driven,” Behle told UrbanCincy.

This month’s event on September 14 will also serve to honor “Dance on Main” which has been a notable theme for past SSOM events after Frank Hibrandt, a long-time Main Street resident, developed Dance on Main as an annual staple of SSOM where dancers of varying styles would perform at multiple stages weaved throughout the event.

Those searching for food and drink will not be disappointed as the event hosts a bustling beer garden and some food trucks for sustenance.  The featured food vendors this month are Red Sesame Korean Barbecue, Dojo Gelato, Urban Kitch’n, and Roll With it Café.

As is usual, there will be plenty of opportunities to view and participate in art activities this Sunday. Art pieces will be created by the Art Academy of Cincinnati mARTket and the group ArtWalks will be painting the crosswalk at Main and Woodward Streets. Attendees will also have the opportunity to create art of their own at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s Postal pARTners postcard creation station, kids’ craft table (Higher Branches), and at the Art Beyond Boundaries’ “ArtSpire” artist workshop at 2pm.

Enjoy the Arts has teamed up with SSOM to weave performing art into this month’s event that will include the following:

12:00-3:15 Mini concerts featuring Elementz, Know Theatre, Young Professional Choral Collective, Cincinnati Ballet’s CBII dancers, DANCEFIX at HBDC, Baba Charles and the Samba Parade Drummers, and more, MOTR Stage
12:00-5:00 Live music in front of Rock Paper Scissors featuring local acts Kate Wakefield, Brianna Kelly, Edison, and ADM. From 3-5 audience members can “take the stage” with ADM to create their own music and have it looped and incorporated into the live set. 1301 Main St.
1:45 Zvedza (experimental jazz), MOTR Stage
2:30 Celebrity Chef Series – Sous Chef Jimi Dean (The Rookwood), Beverage Wizard Rom Wells (The Rookwood, Cheapside Cafe), Mr. Pitiful’s
3:30 Folk Soul Revival (Americana), MOTR Stage

Second Sunday on Main is located on Main Street between Thirteenth and Liberty Streets in Over-the-Rhine. It is conveniently located along the #17, #19, #24 and #16 Metro bus lines. There is also ample free bike parking available immediately surrounding and within the event area.

Cincinnati Gentrified at One of Nation’s Fastest Rates Immediately Following Housing Boom

During the housing boom years between 2000 and 2007, many cities saw an influx of new housing and new wealth into their core neighborhoods. It was a trend that was consistent throughout America as wealthier individuals looked to move back into the cities that had been abandoned in prior decades.

This trend was more pronounced in some cities – Atlanta, Washington D.C., Denver, and Seattle – than others. But for the most part, the majority of the cities were gaining wealth relative to their regional average. Following the burst of the housing bubble, however, virtually every city saw this rate of improvement slow down.

According to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the majority of 59 cities studied now fall between either a one percentile decline or one percentile increase between 2007 and 2010. This is in contrast to the housing boom period which saw cities like Atlanta and Washington D.C. move up 8.7 and 5 percentiles respectively.

“During the housing boom, a number of large cities in the United States experienced redevelopment in their lower-income neighborhoods as higher-income residents moved in, a process known as gentrification,” wrote researcher Daniel Hartley. “Since lending standards have tightened with the onset of the housing bust and the financial crisis, we wondered whether gentrification has continued after the recession in places where it was happening before.”

The results of their research found that only a select handful of regions reasonably continued to see relative wealth growth in their principal cities. The findings also detected one region that bucked the trend and actually increased its gains over the housing boom period.

“Another interesting case is Cincinnati, which barely changed in income ranking from 2000 to 2007 but has increased at a pace similar to Denver or Washington during the 2007 to 2010 period,” the research team noted.

Hints of such activity were realized in December 2013 when UrbanCincy uncovered that census tracts all over the city were experiencing wealth increases.

While the gains in wealth may seem like a positive thing for the city, not everyone is so thrilled about the changes taking place in Cincinnati.

“It seems to me what this information really indicates is how, when people experiencing poverty are systematically removed from a certain area, and housing stock is renovated with the goal of selling to wealthier people, property values increase,” says Jason Haap, an area teacher and prominent advocate for the city’s homeless population. “The fact that Cincinnati has seen gentrified growth during a time of slow economic growth in minority communities further exacerbates the situation.”

One of the tools in order to prevent the displacement Haap mentions from happening is including ‘set asides’ in new developments for affordable housing. The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) has done this a bit in Over-the-Rhine at projects like Mercer Commons and Bremen Lofts, but there is no official city policy or requirement to do so.

What also factors into the relative changes studied by the Federal Reserve Bank is the widespread poverty and low income levels of those living within city limits. Thus, even nominal improvements would show up as a potentially significant increase.

We do know, however, that some housing prices, particularly in the city center where demand is highest, are starting to get out of hand. Most new apartment developments in the Central Business District now feature rents of $2,000 or more per month, and in one recent case, a three bedroom flat on Sixth Street rented for a whopping $4,600 per month.

In such cases it is leaving many now wondering if these prices are not only driving out existing residents but, paradoxically, also preventing many new potential residents from moving in.

“Demand in Cincinnati’s core is insatiable, and supply is only coming online at a trickle,” explained Derek Bauman, an urban development consultant and chairman of Cincinnatians for Progress. “Without urban housing supply, we may miss the coming wave of new residents. At nearly $2 per square-foot rents and $250-$300 a square-foot sales, we may not have Manhattan prices yet, but we’re damn near Brooklyn.”

Episode #40: Fort Washington Way

On the 40th episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, we are joined by John Schneider. Although he is now widely known for his involvement in rail transit projects, Schneider was also one of the fathers of the massive Fort Washington Way rebuild that began in 1998.

Long-time UrbanCincy readers may remember David Ben‘s four-part series on Fort Washington Way, covering the many forward-thinking decisions made by project planners. A few of these include shrinking the highway’s widthbuilding the Riverfront Transit Centerbuilding new water, sewer, and fiber optic infrastructure, and adding support for “caps” which may be added in the future.

We discuss some alternative plans that were considered, such as rerouting I-71; the limitations that were placed on the project, including the need to reuse the existing Lytle Tunnel tubes; and how the stadiums, the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and The Banks came into the picture. Finally, we speculate on the future usage of the Riverfront Transit Center, the future of USBank Arena, and when/if the highway will ever be capped.

Month in Review – August 2014

Check out UrbanCincy’s top five stories from August 2014:

  1. Initial $2M Phase of Cincy Bike Share On-Pace for September Opening
    Many of the system’s 35 stations are now installed around Downtown and Uptown Cincinnati.
  2. Will Main Street Follow in Vine Street’s Footsteps and Return to Two-Way Traffic?
    Since its conversion back to two-way traffic, Vine Street has also blossomed with dozens of new businesses. As a result, there have been several other examples of this type of conversion throughout Over-the-Rhine, including sections of Thirteenth and Fourteenth Streets.
  3. MOVE Coworking Aims to Offer Non-Traditional Workers Healthy, Active Workspace
    The “active collaborative environment” that mixes the traditional shared working space with a fitness training facility.
  4. Will Saks Fifth Avenue Remain in Downtown Cincinnati Following Collapse of its Kenwood Move?
    Saks could remain in its current downtown space or move to another larger retail space in the urban core.
  5. Apple Street Market Cooperative Hoping to Fill One of Cincinnati’s Food Deserts
    When Save-A-Lot closed its Northside store in November 2013, however, it got the attention of the Cincinnati Union Coop Initiative (CUCI) and sparked an effort to open a community-owned grocery store in its place called Apple Street Market.