Episode #64: Jason Barron of Red Bike

A Cincy Red Bike stationOn the 64th episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, TravisRandy, and John are joined by Jason Barron, the Executive Director of Red Bike.

We discuss how the first two years of Cincinnati’s bike share program have gone, what tweaks have been made during that time, and where the system is going next. We also discuss Red Bike’s challenges in neighborhoods that are hillier and not as bike-friendly as Downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine.

PHOTOS: Cincinnati Bell Connector Gives 50,000 Rides Opening Weekend

The much-awaited Cincinnati Bell Connector opened to the public on Friday, September 9, and gave over 50,000 rides during its grand opening three-day weekend.

Councilwoman Amy Murray, who serves as Chair of the Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation Committee, hosted the grand opening ceremony at Washington Park. In addition to Murray, there were 12 speakers including current and former politicians, transit officials, and business leaders. Many of the speakers thanked the streetcar supporters who kept the project going over the years as it faced obstacle after obstacle. Several used the opportunity to call for an expansion of the system, with former mayor Mark Mallory saying that it’s not a question of “if,” but “when” and “where” the streetcar goes next.

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After the first five ceremonial rides, the Connector opened to the public around noon. It was free to ride all weekend thanks to donations from Believe in Cincinnati, streetcar manufacturer CAF, Cincinnati Bell, Fred Craig, the Haile Foundation, and Joseph Automotive Group. Each station was staffed with volunteers who helped inform riders about the how the system works, where it goes, and how to pay your fare after the start of revenue service. Additionally, a number of special events and activities took place place near each of the streetcar stations, ranging from DJs to ballet dancers to sidewalk chalk artists. Many businesses along the route offered special streetcar-themed food, drinks, and merchandise.

The system initially opened with four out of the five streetcars in service, but the fifth was put into service around 4 p.m. on Friday and all five continued to operate for the remainder of the weekend. The system operated at nearly maximum capacity all weekend, with lines of people waiting to board at each station.

Unfortunately, the system was forced to close on Saturday afternoon due to a bomb threat. The threat, which appears to be connected to similar threats made over the weekend at the Cincinnati Zoo and two local high school football games, was not believed to be credible, but the system was closed down as a precautionary measure. After a bomb-sniffing dog searched all five streetcars and found nothing, they were put back in to service.

Despite this setback, the system transported passengers on 18,141 trips on Friday, 17,160 on Saturday, and 15,345 on Sunday, for a grand total of 50,646 trips during the grand opening.

After the free weekend, revenue service began Monday morning on the Cincinnati Bell Connector. The fare is $1 for a two-hour pass, or $2 for an all-day pass. No streetcar-specific monthly pass is available, but a monthly Metro pass includes rides on the streetcar as well as Metro buses. Tickets can be purchased at kiosks at each station, or using the Cincy EZRide app which is now available in the iOS App Store and Google Play.

UrbanCincy Now Listed As Official Google News Provider

Earlier this week we received news that UrbanCincy had been approved by Google reviewers and will now be listed as an official Google News provider. What this means is that UrbanCincy, along with the other more traditional news outlets in Cincinnati, will now have its stories automatically pulled into Google News results.

According to reviewers, “Google News aims to organize all the world’s news and make it accessible to its users, while providing the best possible experience for those seeking useful and timely news information. Our ability to meet these goals depends critically on the quality of the sites included in Google News.”

They go on to say that Google is able to meet those goals by maintaining strict guidelines and standards that help one of the world’s largest technology companies maintain fairness and consistency for website inclusion.

In particular, Google reviewers examine websites by five key metrics – news content, journalistic standards, authority, accountability, and readability. Google’s approval of UrbanCincy validates that we not only produce accurate and authoritative information, but do so in an accountable manner by using real names and providing contact information for our writers and editors.

It also means that you can rely on UrbanCincy for actual news that goes beyond the flood of listicles, how-to articles, advice columns or job postings that are found on so many other websites.

The first story of ours to appear in the Google News listing was our exclusive story yesterday about the plans to thoughtfully redevelop Pleasant Ridge’s business district.

Our eighth year anniversary is quickly approaching, and we hope you will continue to stick with us over the coming months as we roll out a series of changes and improvements to our website, podcast and social media platforms. Thanks for reading.

Episode #43: Fall Update (Part 1)

Hamilton County Board of ElectionsOn the 43rd episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, Randy, Jake, John and Travis discuss the results of the 2014 election. We also speculate on what county issues might end up on the ballot in 2015, including a potential sales tax increase / property tax rollback to fund the county’s new digs in Mt. Airy.

We also discuss Kevin Flynn’s plan to fund streetcar operations using a combination of sources, including parking meter revenues.

Episode #38: Seoul

CheonggyecheonOn the 38th episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, our guest Yoon-Sun Chang joins Randy in Seoul to talks with John and Travis back in Cincinnati. We discuss some of the experiences of Randy, an American now residing in Korea, and Yoon-Sun, a Korean who studied at DAAP in Cincinnati.

We talk about the large scale of growth that Seoul is experiencing, the urban form of new developments, the approach to historic preservation, and the transportation systems that enable the city to function. This includes projects such as the Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park, the reclaimed CheonggyecheonGwanghwamun Square Project, and Hangang Renaissance Project.

Finally, we talk about Korean and Asian culture in Cincinnati, and how it differs from the authentic experience.

Photo of Cheonggyecheon provided by Flickr user fukagawa.