On Friday, April 19, UrbanCincy partnered with the Niehoff Urban Studio and hosted an event that showcased student work and included expert analysis and discussion of urban mobility issues in Cincinnati.
Approximately 100 people showed up to the collaborative studio space in Corryville to view the student work, and learn more about the challenges facing Cincinnati today and in the future.
Metropolis & Mobility: Bus Rapid Transit and Bikeway Planning focused on five proposed bus rapid transit and three bikeway corridors throughout Cincinnati. Engineering and planning students were paired together in groups to examine the issues and propose implementation strategies for those potential projects.
Students examining bus rapid transit focused on the Reading Road, Downtown, Hamilton Avenue, Vine Street, and Montgomery Road corridors. The students studying bikeway planning, meanwhile, examined the Wasson Way and Western Riverfront Trail and Mill Creek Greenway.
Those who attended the event were also able to vote on their favorite project, which will then be profiled right here on UrbanCincy.com in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please enjoy the video put together on the Metropolis & Mobility event by our contributing videographer Andrew Stahlke.
UrbanCincy is proud to bring back the popular Bikes+Brews ride to help kick off National Bike Month in Cincinnati on Saturday, May 4.
In addition to Bikes+Brews, Cincinnati’s celebration of Bike Month will include dozens of events over the course of the month. Some will focus on teaching people how to maintain and care for their bikes, others will introduce people to biking, and others will look to celebrate the form of transportation through fun activities and events that enhance the experience of existing bicyclists.
As is tradition with the Bikes+Brews ride, the ride will start at the OTR Biergarten and then continue on throughout the center city. This year’s ride will include five stops along a nine-mile route traversing Over-the-Rhine, Downtown, Covington, Newport, and Bellevue before returning to Findlay Market.
The route is fairly level, and should be doable for cyclists of all ages and abilities.
After taking off from the OTR Biergarten at 12pm, riders will head south to the Moerlein Lager House and then across the Roebling Suspension Bridge to Keystone Bar & Grill in Covington. Following that, the group will head east to The Elusive Cow Cafe in Bellevue, then double-back and head north across the Ohio River via the Purple People Bridge.
Those interested in joining the group mid-ride are welcome to do so, and will be able to track the group’s progress by following #bikebrews or @UrbanCincy on Twitter.
Those who do not have their own bike can rent one from the Cincinnati Bike Center (near our first stop on the ride) for the day for $25.
The 2013 Bikes+Brews ride is free and open to anyone who would like to participate, and will take off from the OTR Biergarten around 12pm. The ride is expected to conclude back at Market Wines around 5pm.
Comparing the first wave of subscriptions in NYC to other bike-share cities is tough, since the Citi Bike service area is much larger than the other networks, and other cities launched at different times of year. (Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC, is currently the largest bike-share system in the country, but it launched with only 49 stations.) Even taking into account the relatively large size of the Citi Bike service area, which will provide 6,000 bikes at 330 stations, the sign-up rate in NYC is off the charts so far.
The Cincinnati region is rethinking the way it moves people and goods throughout the region with major investments and studies taking place on bus rapid transit, bikeways, and multi-modal corridors. The Cincinnati region will evolve, for better or worse, depending on how these investments are planned.
To help further this discussion, we are proud to announce a new partnership between the Niehoff Urban Studio and UrbanCincy thatwill focus on the work produced by students at the interdisciplinary design center.
The exhibits produced by the students will be judged by those in attendance at the planned semi-annual events, and followed by an expert panel discussion. The best student project will then be profiled on UrbanCincy.
“Bus rapid transit is a new form of urban transport, already in place in many American cities that can be modeled for Cincinnati to put us one step closer to a much-needed rapid regional transit system,” explained Niehoff Urban Studio director Frank Russell.
The event is free and open to the public, and will include an open house session from 5pm to 6pm where visitors can view the student exhibits and mingle with the panel, and the panel discussion itself from 6pm to 7:30pm.
There will be a cash bar and complimentary light snacks provided for those in attendance.
The $120 million Smale Riverfront Park will celebrate its next wave of progress two months from now when the Women’s Committee Garden and Duke Energy Garden are opened to the public – more than doubling the central riverfront park’s completed acreage.
According to officials from the Cincinnati Park Board, the project is still on-time and on-budget thanks to an influx of private contributions.
Originally, park officials had planned on approximately half of the project’s cost being covered by state and federal funds. While those funds flowed early in the project’s life, they have all but dried up over the past two years.
“We got into this pretty aware of what the challenges were, but the biggest challenges thus far have probably been the state and federal funding,” stated Smale Riverfront Park’s project manager, Dave Prather. “It’s been a pretty big adjustment when half of the funding you were counting on hasn’t come, but thanks to the private funding we’ve been able to stay pretty much on schedule.”
Prather says that the city leadership understands the realities facing both their state and federal partners, but that without the private and local support the project would most likely be behind schedule.
He is, however, optimistic that things will turn around and says that the park board is working on other ways to get state and federal dollars. One such element that could be the beneficiary of such efforts is the planned 1,000-foot transient boat dock which may be eligible for up to $3 million in grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Watercraft.
Should such funding fall into place, Prather says that the boat dock could be operational as early as May or July 2015.
“We received $3 million in the State capital fund three years ago, and that’s what we thought we would get as we worked through the phasing plan,” Prather explained. “Hopefully the state will get back in the business of being able to help with significant capital projects.”
That $4 million will go towards accelerating the construction timeline of phase four of construction work which will now include the PNC Grow Up Great Adventure Playground and carousel. According to Prather, both of these projects will now be completed by May 2015 – in time for the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
One of the features that will be open in two months is the new riverwalk, of sorts, that will run from the Walnut Street Overlook approximately to Sycamore Street immediately south of Great American Ball Park. One of the key features of this riverwalk, Prather notes, is that the guardrails will be 48 inches in height instead of 42 inches so that both pedestrians and bicyclists can enjoy the pathway.
“Our observation has been that you can’t tell cyclists where to go,” said Prather who noted that he is an avid cyclist himself. “So we’re going to construct the closest to the river pathway to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists – right where they both want to be.”
While much work is left to do, both in terms of construction and securing funds to continue construction, the project team maintains excitement for the transformation they are overseeing.
“I’ve been an architect and a planner for the city for years, and a lot of the time you spend a lot of time and energy on plans that don’t get built,” Prather concluded. “This one [project] is different…we’re just on a roll and it’s awesome to have ideas that everyone embraces, you feel right about what you’re building, and you get the resources to actually build it. We’ve gotten a lot of cooperation from the city and county, and I feel like we’re all rowing in the same direction.”
Officials hope to complete the 45-acre park in its entirety by July 2017, excluding improvements to the river’s edge that will need to be coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
According to OKI officials, the survey received 2,474 responses and more than 1,200 comments. In the past, the organization had received around 100 responses for similar surveys, but was hoping for higher numbers this time around due to a larger outreach effort.
The survey is intended to take the pulse of the Cincinnati region with regards to regional vitality, sustainability, and competitiveness with a special focus on land use and transportation policy. The results of the survey are then intended to be used when updating the metropolitan planning organization’s Strategic Regional Policy Plan (SRPP), which was last updated in 2005.
“While much has been accomplished since the plan’s adoption in 2005, much remains to be done to reach its goals,” state OKI officials. “The SRPP needs to be updated to reflect the impacts of subsequent events such as the Great Recession and significant changes in our demographics, particularly as the baby-boom generation ages.”
Of the survey’s 21 total questions, seven offered particularly revealing insights into the psyche of those from around the region concerning transportation options, economic development strategies, and land use policy.
The survey results indicate a clear preference for sustainable and urban communities. Approximately 60% of respondents said that they felt urban revitalization and neighborhood redevelopment efforts are paying off, and a whopping 88.5% said that it is important to have safe pedestrian and bicycling options in their community.
While the 2,474 respondents stated that they wanted to see existing infrastructure maintained and their communities built in a way to support walking and bicycling, it does not appear that they feel the region is heading in that direction.
“Bicycle infrastructure can play a big role in enhancing public health, providing additional options for transportation, and reducing pollution,” commented one responder. “I also would support a comprehensive transportation plan that includes the extended streetcar line and light rail. This could reduce traffic congestion and pollution and enhance economic growth for our neighborhoods.”
More than a third of those responding said that they feel the region is growing in an unsustainable manner, and more than two-thirds expressed concern about how the region’s housing, transportation, healthcare, and recreation options will support aging individuals and younger generations that desire walkable urban communities.
When asked about energy and the climate, approximately 74% said that rising energy costs have impacted their lifestyle choices surrounding transportation and utilities. With nearly 85% of those same respondents feeling confident about knowing where to go to get more information or help to achieve greater energy efficiency, it appears that organizations like the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance are making a positive impact.
“OKI needs to develop renewable energy sources for our area and eliminate all fossil fuel usage in the next 10 years,” responded one individual on the survey. “OKI needs to actively promote the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance that has enough funding to upgrade close to 70,000 homes and business in the Hamilton County and northern Kentucky.”
OKI officials state that while they currently have no authority, and seek no authority, over local land use decisions, they hope that the results of their updated SRPP will bring about more consistency between local land use planning and regional transportation planning.
According to City of Cincinnati officials, the project will replace the existing, half-mile structure that connects the Sixth Street Expressway to Elberon Avenue, Warsaw Avenue and River Road in Lower Price Hill and Queensgate. The existing structure had been deteriorating at a rapid pace, and had been rated in “Poor” condition for several years leading up to the project.
As of this month, very little remains of the 73-year-old elevated roadway. UrbanCincy contributor, Jake Mecklenborg, visited the construction site last week to capture the visual progress being made in Lower Price Hill.