VIDEO: Family Focused, Center City Activities Abound With Return of Baseball Season

Now that baseball is back, it means it is time for Cincinnati’s tourism season to pick-up steam. The return of the Reds means the migration of regional baseball fans to the Queen City to take in the nation’s past time.

Of course, no season can compare to those like last year, which featured the All-Star Game, or seasons where the Reds are in the playoff hunt. But baseball in Cincinnati is tradition; and traditions are, well, traditions. So with that said, here’s a look back at last summer when the Reds failed to live up to expectations, but still drew millions to Great American Ball Park.

The following three-minute video takes a look at some of the center city’s most prominent attractions through the eyes of a family. And if there is one thing at which Cincinnati excels, it is family focused vacations centered around baseball season.

If the embedded video fails to play, you can view it on Vimeo here.

Red Bike Firmly Establishes Itself As Tri-State’s Largest Bike-Share Program

Red Bike recorded its 100,000th ride early last week when Keith Piercy checked out a bike at the Port Bellevue Station in Northern Kentucky.

According to Jason Barron, Executive Director of Red Bike, Piercy rode the bike across the river and docked it at the Freedom Center Station at The Banks. Piercy explained that he was out running some errands and was even on his way to go buy a new bike helmet.

“This is awesome. It [Red Bike] has been working out great for me,” Piercy said. “It is really helping out our one-car family.”

The moment comes as data from the American Community Survey found that Cincinnati has one of the fastest growing bicycling communities in the nation, and the biggest in Ohio. It also comes just after the one-year anniversary of Red Bike’s launch, which also took place in front of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

According to Barron, ridership has far exceeded initial expectations, with more than 17,000 people using Red Bike in its first year. This growth also fueled the quicker than anticipated expansion of the system. With 50 stations located on both sides of the Ohio River, Red Bike is the largest bike share system in Ohio, and the first public bike share system in Kentucky.

While it is expected that ridership and system growth will level off over the second year of operations, Red Bike leadership is looking to iron out finances and expand upon programs, like the one recently launched with CityLink, to make the system more accessible to people at all income levels.

Annual memberships can be purchased for $80, while day passes can be purchased for $8. Semester passes, which are good for 120 days and are marketed toward university students, can be purchased for $30.

Hidden Assets of Fort Washington Way Saving Taxpayers Millions of Dollars

Each Wednesday in July, UrbanCincy is highlighting Fort Washington Way (FWW), the I-71/US-50 trench bisecting the Cincinnati riverfront from its downtown. Part-one of the series discussed what the area looked like prior to reconstruction a decade ago, and how that reconstruction made way for the development along Cincinnati’s central riverfront. This week’s piece will discuss some of the unseen assets included in the project that continue to benefit Cincinnatians in a variety of ways today, and will continue to do so well into the future.

Those who enjoy spending their summer evenings at Great American Ball Park to watch our first-place Reds, or our defending AFC North Champion Bengals, have probably seen the stairway entrances to the Riverfront Transit Center. Below Second Street, along the southern portion of FWW, lies an underground multi-modal transit facility. Demonstrating a tremendous amount of foresight, engineers constructed a transit center reportedly capable of moving 500 buses into and out of the heart of downtown in an hour.  This is in addition to Second Street which is designed to also accommodate light rail and streetcars at street level while the underground portion is capable of accommodating light rail, commuter rail, and buses.  And all of this was designed with future transit connections to Northern Kentucky via the Taylor Southgate Bridge, and Cincinnati’s eastern and western suburbs via Riverside Drive and Longworth Hall respectively.

As The Banks development continues its exciting march toward completion, its visitors along with those frequenting Great American Ball Park, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and Paul Brown Stadium will use the anticipatory infrastructure available at the transit facility that could eventually be home to trains serving downtown on a regional light rail network – an inclusion that will eventually save taxpayers millions of dollars once light rail begins to serve Cincinnati central riverfront.

But the Riverfront Transit Center is not the only instance of transportation foresight included with the FWW redesign ten years ago. The roadways that span FWW at Main and Walnut streets were both built to withstand the weight or rail transportation. Furthermore, the sidewalks on each of the roadways connecting Second and Third streets over FWW are some of the widest in the city. Knowing the untapped potential of the area that would later become The Banks development, engineers and city officials determined it prudent to build the spans to support pedestrian, vehicular, bus and rail transportation. Now, as the city builds the Cincinnati Streetcar, it can easily and seamlessly connect the central riverfront to the rest of downtown and beyond because the engineers planned for it a full ten years ago.

Another problem along Cincinnati’s central riverfront was the presence of combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The CSOs are the result of an outdated sewer and water pipe system that becomes overloaded during heavy rainfall events. The result is the combination of solid waste and water runoff into our natural waterways like the Ohio River and its tributaries. Due to the health and ecological concerns, the city and county are under a decree to fix the problem over the next decade or so.

Ten years ago, during the reconstruction of FWW, engineers knew that the problem needed to be addressed eventually, so they built storage tunnels along the trench below Third Street. These pipes act as de facto storage tanks when it rains, allowing runoff and raw sewage to stay in the pipes until it can be treated. From this foresight, the number of raw sewage spills in the immediate area has decreased from about 150 per year to around four or five – an achievement determined by ORSANCO to have provided “measurable water quality improvements to the Ohio River.”

Had the engineers not thought to include the transit center below Second Street, installed wide sidewalks for pedestrians, included the capability to safely transport a streetcar, and built water pipes that can withstand the rain, current and future taxpayers would be burdened with the cost of redoing something we constructed a mere decade ago. Building these features before the need arose ensured that the area is not in a constant state of construction. Furthermore, it allows development to proceed more quickly and without additional unnecessary costs.

Ignoring long-term needs is a foolish, dangerous, and potentially expensive way to run a city. While some city leaders of yesterday and today do indeed deserve criticism for a lack of long-term planning, we ought to give credit where credit is due. And the reconstruction of Fort Washington Way is one of those instances. The decisions made by city leaders over a decade ago have saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

Next Wednesday’s segment will discuss how a project involving so many different interested parties could even be accomplished. In the final article, we will provide ideas for the future of the area, and seek feedback from our readers on what the city can do to make the area more inviting.