News Transportation

Cincinnati wins national CDBG award for Ohio River Trail project

City leaders will gather today in downtown Cincinnati to accept a national award for its Ohio River Trail project. The John A. Sasso National Community Development Week Award will be presented at the National Community Development Association (NCDA) convention currently being held in Cincinnati.

NCDA officials say that the Ohio River Trail project is helping to improve neighborhoods and better the lives of low- and middle-income residents through the use of the association’s Community Development Block Grants (CDGB). In 2011, eight departments within the City of Cincinnati made more than $13 million in total CDBG requests. Over the past five years, the City has requested approximately $13 million annually in CDBG funds.

The association specifically looked at a 1.1-mile stretch of the Ohio River Trail through Columbia Tusculum which was recently completed thanks to a CDBG Economic Development Initiative grant of $745,125. In May, UrbanCincy partnered with the City of Cincinnati to give future bicycle commuters a tour of the Ohio River Trail.

Once entirely complete, the Ohio River Trail will connect with the Little Miami Scenic Trail to the east and downtown Cincinnati at its western terminus. Future segments could go further west along the Ohio River.

The Ohio River Trail project was chosen for this year’s award out of 550 local governments who work with NCDA on community development projects. Those projects include a wide variety of efforts that are targeted to improve economic development, housing and human services.

Officials will be presented the award by Cardell Cooper, executive director of NCDA, at 12:30pm today at the Pavilion Room inside the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel.

News Transportation

Ohio River Trail Tour to explain bike commuter center basics this Sunday

To wrap up the end of Bike Week (and Bike Month), UrbanCincy and the City of Cincinnati have teamed up to lead the Ohio River Trail bike ride on Sunday, May 22 at 10 am. The ride travels along the completed portion of the Ohio River Trail, and will also share information about the new Bike & Mobility Center at the Central Riverfront Park. This event will share information with those in attendance about future phases of the bike trail, as well as learn how to commute to Cincinnati’s urban core by bike.

Once both the Ohio River Trail and Bike & Mobility Center are completed, bicycle commuters will be able to easily commute from Cincinnati’s eastern suburbs to the region’s urban core. The Bike & Mobility Center will include bicycle parking, lockers, showers and a repair facility.

The event is free and open to the public, and is part of the City of Cincinnati’s official 2011 Bike Month activities. The ride is approximately six miles (one way). The map (below) details the route.

“I want this to be something that folks can use to come back to the trail by themselves, that will show them where they can park their cars, and where they need to get on and off the street because the trail is ending or beginning,” said Melissa McVay, with the City’s transportation office.

Steve Schuckman with the Parks department, will be along for the ride and will give a short talk at the termination of the trail to discuss the new mobility center and how residents and cyclists can take advantage of the showers, rental facilities and other amenities to make biking to work part of their routine.

The ride will begin at the parking lot across from the Lunken Airport at 2622 Wilmer Avenue at 10am on Sunday morning. The ride is approximately 6 miles (one way) and covers relatively flat terrain with little elevation change. Check the Facebook event page for more details.

Arts & Entertainment News Transportation

UrbanCincy Partners with Cincinnati to Organize Two Unique Bike Month Events

In celebration of Bike Month, UrbanCincy has partnered with the City of Cincinnati to bring you two unique events. The first will take place on Saturday, May 14 and take bicyclists on a pedal-powered pub crawl through the city’s urban core. The second event will take place on Sunday, May 22 and give riders a glimpse into what bicycle commuting will be like along the Ohio River Trail.

Bikes+Brews is back by popular demand. Last year UrbanCincy organized this event and made five stops throughout Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. Roughly 50 people participated over various segments of the ride which began and terminated at Findlay Market. This year’s event will also begin and end at Findlay Market, but will include a total of nine stops throughout Over-the-Rhine, West End, Downtown, Newport and Covington. The ride will be led by Cincinnati brewer, and UrbanCincy contributor, Bryon Martin.

Bikes+Brews will begin at 1pm and will roughly last until 6:30pm. The event is free and open to the public, and interested participants are encouraged to join the ride for any duration and segment. The ride is approximately seven miles from start to finish (map), includes slight elevation change and two bridge crossings.

The Ohio River Trail Tour is new this year. The event will begin at Lunken Airport and take bicyclists for a ride along the partially completed Ohio River Trail. The ride will terminate in downtown Cincinnati at the Bike & Mobility Center currently under construction at the Cincinnati Riverfront Park.

Those participating in the Ohio River Trail Tour will be able to get information about future phases of the Ohio River Trail, which will link Cincinnati’s eastern suburbs with downtown, and how to successfully commute by bicycle by utilizing lockers, showers, repair facilities and bicycle parking at the new Bike & Mobility Center.

The Ohio River Trail Tour will begin at 10am in the parking lot across from Lunken Airport’s terminal building. The ride is approximately six miles (map) and contains very few changes in elevation.

2010 Bikes+Brews photograph by Jenny Kessler for UrbanCincy.

Development News Transportation

First Eastern Corridor open house raises additional questions about plan

First proposed in the late 1990’s, the multi-modal Eastern Corridor plan concluded its Tier 1 planning in 2006. After four years of inaction, planning for commuter rail on the Oasis line resumed in May 2010. Tier 2 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and preliminary engineering is currently underway and preferred alternatives will be determined in 2012.

As the plan moves forward, project leaders are holding three community open houses this week to provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the project and offer feedback at the midpoint of this planning phase. But because there will not be any official decisions concerning track alignment, vehicle type, etc., until 2012, those who attended the April 5 open house at the Leblond Recreation Center on Riverside Drive were frustrated by the inability of planners to answer specific questions.

The primary concern of open house attendees was the proposed use of diesel locomotives. Area residents are familiar with the sound of the line’s periodic freight trains and the Cincinnati Dinner Train, and fear that frequent high-speed diesel commuter train service will significantly impact their neighborhoods. Most expressed that they would be more welcoming to the proposed commuter service if it took the form of electric light rail or modern streetcar technology similar to that of the proposed Cincinnati Streetcar.

Several concerned citizens, including Arn Bortz, Managing Partner of Towne Properties, observed that the Oasis Commuter Rail is designed to serve far eastern Hamilton County and Clermont County to the detriment of those who live in Cincinnati. Thayne Maynard, President of the Cincinnati Zoo, said that he moved to Newtown to be close to the Loveland Bike Trail, and is worried that the Oasis commuter rail might scuttle plans for the Ohio River Trail between Downtown and Lunken Airport.

Planners assured those in attendance that “No Build” is a possible outcome of the Tier 2 work, in which case all of these concerns can be forgotten. But the completion of Tier 2 work will not determine how capital funds are acquired or which local entity will operate the line. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is the most likely operator. With the vast majority of SORTA’s funding coming from a .3% Cincinnati earnings tax, it appears that a special source of revenue will be needed for the Oasis Line as it is expected to terminate near I-275 in Clermont County.

Further complicating the issue, UrbanCincy investigated the Eastern Corridor plan in August 2010 and discovered several significant flaws that have yet to be addressed by project planners.

Two more open houses are scheduled to be held. The first will take place on Wednesday, April 6 at the R.G. Cribbet Recreation Center (map), and the second on Thursday, April 7 inside the Milford High School cafeteria (map). Both open houses will take place from 5pm to 8pm, and will include an open comment/Q&A session beginning at 7pm.

Eastern Corridor Open House photograph by Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy.

News Transportation

City Looking for Feedback on Potential Bicycling Fixes for Riverside Drive

The City of Cincinnati is examining how to improve bicycle conditions along Riverside Drive through the East End neighborhood. Data shows that the corridor is popular for both recreational and commuter bicyclists, but that the heavy traffic along the roadway makes it unsafe or uncomfortable for many potential riders.

“We’re continuously looking for ways to improve the quality of life for residents, and enhance neighborhoods in ways that are more in line with our community’s interests in walkable, bike-friendly and sustainable neighborhoods,” said Matthew Andrews, Acting Principal Architect with Cincinnati’s Department of Transportation & Engineering. “But due to the complexities of this corridor, we are really interested to see what kind of feedback we can get from the public.”

Such complexities include that approximately 10 percent of all traffic along U.S. 52 is dangerous truck traffic thanks to a national truck corridor designation. DOTE officials also say that recent studies show that while the posted speed limit is 35mph, the average vehicle is zipping through the area at 46mph.

But while some solutions seem obvious – separated bike lanes, traffic calming features – the larger picture is making things more difficult. The ongoing Ohio River Trail will eventually create a separated bicycle path that will accommodate both recreational and commuter bicyclists, but officials do not know when that might be or how it is executed. As a result, the City is looking at potential fixes now and is hoping the public can help come up with a solution.

The City is currently soliciting feedback on five potential solutions that include everything from dedicated bike lanes, a separate path, cycle tracks, and a combination thereof. Those interested in providing feedback on the potential solutions are encouraged to do so by Thursday, September 30 so that officials can narrow down the list of concepts and do further analysis in early October.