Cincinnati Streetcar Foes Have New Target: Bike Lanes

Here is a drawing of the bike lane's design. Image: City of Cincinnati
The bike lane that Mayor John Cranley wants to “pause.” Image: City of Cincinnati

Another big transportation showdown is brewing in Cincinnati. This time the fight isn’t over a streetcar — it’s about a protected bike lane.

The Cincinnati Business Courier announced earlier this week that Mayor John Cranley had ordered city officials not to award a contract on the Central Parkway protected bike lane project, which was set to begin this spring. The project — the city’s first protected bike lane — was approved unanimously by City Council last fall.

But now that the funding has been awarded and the political process has wrapped up, the mayor and new City Council members Kevin Flynn and David Mann apparently want the project reevaluated, as a result of complaints from one business owner along the corridor. Tim Haines, who runs Relocation Strategies, said he is afraid of his employees losing free public parking. The plans calls for eliminating parking during rush hour.

City Councilman Chris Seelbach told the Business Courier that the mayor doesn’t have the authority to interfere with the awarding of contracts for a project that has already been approved by council. Proponents of the bike lane, many of the same people who successfully fought for the streetcar, are swinging into action, as well. Groups like We Believe in Cincinnati, Queen City Bikes and Cincinnatians for Progress are planning to pack a committee hearing where the project will be under discussion Monday.

“The group that worked to promote and save the streetcar — we’re still organized,” said Randy Simes, founder of the blog Urban Cincy.

Simes says council members Flynn and Mann are using the same rhetoric they used in the streetcar controversy — claiming the project was passed by a “lame duck” council, and smearing the previous administration.

“It’s almost identical [to the streetcar controversy]. It’s funded. It’s funded with outside money. If they change that dramatically they jeopardize the funding,” Simes said. “If they decide to pause too long, they really just kill the project.”

The Central Parkway bike lane would be separated from traffic with plastic bollards at all times, and some stretches would have e a lane of parking protection as well, except during rush hours. The corridor would connect Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood with downtown and Over-the-Rhine — some of the neighborhoods with the highest rates of cycling. The road is underutilized and paralleled by I-75, which is being widened. The Central Parkway project was funded with a $500,000 state grant plus a $125,000 match from the city, according to the Business Courier.

In an email to supporters yesterday, We Believe in Cincinnati said turning back now would be a mistake:

The city spent over a year gathering input from hundreds of residents, owners, businesses, and community councils… We’re supporting the Central Parkway Bikeway Protected Bike Lane because it is another step forward in Cincinnati providing alternative means of transportation to residents that will drive population and economic growth into the city of Cincinnati.

  • BillCollins45227

    Angie: Thank you for publishing this piece. I live in Cincinnati.

    Over the weekend, our job now is to write the Cincinnati City Council members and testify at the Council committee meeting on Monday April 21 to advance this project for protected on-street bike lanes on Central Parkway. I’m confident that we can find the five votes (out of nine, and perhaps more than nine) among Cincinati City Council members to keep this project on track.

    It’s ironic that this on-street bicycle infrastructure project for Central Parkway — which, if built, will be the first built in Ohio — is so very cheap to build. As you have so effectively written about on Streetsblog, oftentimes local politicians push for much more expensive projects such as the proposed Medical Corridor freeway in Cleveland and the $600 million Oasis Line commuter rail line here in Cincinnati, and then turn around and oppose much cheaper projects like this one that have so much more value.

    So much for their fiscal prudence. Sometimes cheap — restriping existing streets rather than building expensive new ones — is good. Because these types of restriping projects are cheap, therefore the value of the engineering/construction contracts for those projects are not as great. And, course, this means that the financial payoffs to the contractors, lobbyists and favor-seekers who surround the politicians is not as lucrative as is the case with the big projects.

    Ya’ reckon that might be the reason that so many pols like the expensive, unneeded projects over the more effective, cheap projects? LOL

    I think we know the answer to that questino. Have a great weekend. And thanks!

  • d

    Information was gathered, but concerns were ignored by the past administration.
    I listened yesterday and few minor changes will make this work for all. Simpson, Young and Seelbach have been ignoring businesses and the West End forever.