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November’s URBANexchange Takes Place Tonight at Moerlein Lager House

We are hosting the November URBANexchange tonight at the Moerlein Lager House. This will be a special event as it comes on the heels of Tuesday’s election and our Urbanist Candidates Forum last week.

As we begin our second year of URBANexchange events, we hope that these can become more engaging. We received lots of positive feedback from the young people that packed the Niehoff Studio last Tuesday for our Urbanist Candidates Forum, and we want to build on that momentum.

Moerlein Lager House

As a result, please join us in the biergarten at the Moerlein Lager House this evening anytime between 5:30pm and 8:30pm, and share with us the policies and issues you would like this new city council and mayor pursue. You can simply jot down your ideas on the back of a business card, sheet of paper, or email it to our area manager and editor at

As always, the event will be a casual setting where you can meet others interested in what is happening in the city. We will gather in the biergarten so that each person can choose how much or little they buy in terms of food or drink. Although we do encourage our attendees to generously support our kind hosts at the Moerlein Lager House.

Going forward we will continue to gather ideas, from those who attend our URBANexchange events, and occasionally submit them to City Council. We are thinking of it as a sort of as an urbanist wish list.

Our team of researchers and writers will also occasionally dive further into the topics and publish the information and ideas on the website.

URBANexchange is free and open to the public.

We will be situated in the northwest corner of the biergarten (near the Moer To Go window), but you can also ask the host where the UrbanCincy group is located and they will be happy to assist.

The Moerlein Lager House is located on Cincinnati’s central riverfront and is located just one block from a future streetcar stop. Free and ample bike parking is available near our location in the biergarten outside by the Schmidlapp Event Lawn.

Business News

URBANexchange returns this Wednesday to Moerlein Lager House

After a nearly two-month break, the UrbanCincy team is proud to kick-off the 2013 season of URBANexchange events.

Following a successful pilot run last year, URBANexchange will return this Wednesday for a full year of events at the Moerlein Lager House.

“Dozens of people excited about cities and Cincinnati’s urban core showed up at last year’s events, and we’re really excited about the possibilities for a full year’s worth of URBANexchanges in 2013,” said Randy Simes, Owner & Managing Editor of UrbanCincy.

2013 URBANexchange Events

UrbanCincy will be giving away prizes at each of the events in 2013, with a custom tile of Carew Tower (image) from Rookwood Pottery being given away at February’s URBANexchange courtesy of Downtown Cincinnati Incorporated.

The collection of events in 2013 will take place on the first Wednesday of each month to avoid conflict with weekly bike rides that occur in warmer weather, and when there are no home Reds baseball games. The group will always meet in the northwest corner of the Moerlein Lager House’s biergarten – closest to the ‘Moer to Go’ window and outdoor bike racks.

“We are really excited to continue to offer a monthly event where fellow urbanists can get together, share ideas, and expand their social networks,” stated Simes. “The goal with our URBANexchange events is to not create a platform for one-way presentations, but rather create an opportunity for city supporters in the region to get together and meet one another.”

URBANexchange events are always free and open to the public, and take place from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the Moerlein Lager House (map) within Cincinnati’s Smale Riverfront Park. Those interested in attending are welcome to come and go anytime during the event, and friends are always encouraged.

Business News Transportation

Nate Wessel aiming to change the way Cincinnati does maps

Maps are used in our everyday lives to help us navigate our cities, perform research, and visualize spatial data, but Nate Wessel has attempted to change the way Cincinnatians view such information.

In June 2011, Wessel started a modest Kickstarter campaign that would raise money to print a transit frequency map he had developed. Instead of using the typical approach to developing a bus system map, Wessel adjusted colors and line weights according to the frequency of service along each bus route.

Cincinnati Frequent Transit Map (Day Time). Image provided by Nate Wessel.

While he simplified the system map, he also added critical wayfinding information such as neighborhood business districts, parks, neighborhoods and natural landscape features.

“The maps used currently will put the 38X on the same visual level as the 17, but one runs three times a day in each direction, and the other runs almost 100 times a day in each direction,” Wessel explained. “In no way does the map indicate any more value for one over the other, but my map gives people an approximate idea of how long you’ll need to wait, in addition to how frequent the buses come and where they go.”

Wessel grew up in Northeast Ohio and said that his first experience with transit was biking a mile to an unmarked bus stop in Canton. Since then he has studied urban planning at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and worked with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

It was during his time at UC, when he realized something needed to change with the way transit information is visually presented.

“A friend of mine from China was basically saying that he felt trapped in his apartment, and didn’t know anything beyond campus and thought you could take transit, but didn’t know where it went,” recalled Wessel. “He lived in a transit-rich area, but many people like him didn’t know the correct routes to take to the right places, even easily accessible places like downtown.”

Hamilton County property values by square foot. Image provided by Nate Wessel.

The initial Kickstarter campaign raised far more money that Wessel was anticipated, and he was able to print and distribute 30,000 copies of his Cincinnati Transit Frequency Map. The map is now also featured on Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority’s (SORTA) website, but beyond that has not made significant inroads with regional transportation agencies.

Six months after Wessel distributed his new map, SORTA released a new regional transit map, for which they paid $20,000, that lacked the intuitive display and added information presented on the Cincinnati Transit Frequency Map.

While both SORTA and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) were originally cooperative, and even contributed financially to the Kickstarter campaign, the follow-up, Wessel says, has been a bit disappointing.

Since the original release and distribution of the frequency map, Wessel has continued to improve upon it while also developing a separate night-time map, and one that focuses on center city transit service. To support those efforts, he launched a second Kickstarter campaign which funded the production of 20,000 additional maps in September 2012.

Wessel, however, has not limited himself solely to transit maps. He has released a number of maps this year that have highlighted property value data in Hamilton County, provided an exhaustive analysis of SORTA’s new transit plan, explained the theory of bus bunching, and is in the midst of an eight-part series critiquing the Cincinnati Streetcar project.

In the future he hopes to do a comprehensive map for bicycling to replace the existing one produced by the OKI Regional Council of Governments (OKI).

“In some way it’s a common interest in Cincinnati that I share with a lot of people that see the city not doing things as awesome as compared to other places, so I kind of want to do that with information about transit and cartography,” Wessel explained. “I also want people to make informed decisions about transit and planning in general, and I think that putting as much information out there in an attractive and useful manner helps.”

Nate Wessel was the winner of UrbanCincy’s first featured profile contest at the September 2012 URBANexchange. If you have a great idea we should know about, please contact the us at URBANexchange events are held on the first Wednesday of every month at the Moerlein Lager House.