Northside Community Council President Ollie Kroner submitted Council support to Mayor Cranley for the Central Parkway Bikeway Project – a project approved by the previous city administration but faced modification or elimination by the mayor in April.
The proposed Central Parkway Bikeway Project would allow for a bicycle track along both sides of the Central Parkway from its intersection on Elm Street to Ludlow Avenue in Clifton. Chris Wetterich of the Business Courier wrote earlier in April that Mayor Cranley does not have the authority to halt or stop the project, citing Councilman Chris Seelbach – “The mayor cannot order the administration not to bid a contract that has been approved by council.” Seelbach went on to say that city officials conducted “extensive public outreach on the project before bringing the grant to council.”
Mayor Cranley previously came under attack for his position on the Cincinnati Streetcar Project. Some Council members have viewed Mayor Cranley’s decision over the Bikeway project as confirmation of the mayor’s position to “run the city as an executive mayor,” Seelbach said.
Despite “questions” about the project from Mayor Cranley and Council members Kevin Flynn and David Mann, Wetterich of the Courier wrote of the Central Parkway bicycle track that it would be Cincinnati’s “first protected bike lane on a major thoroughfare and a potentially transformative step toward making the streets of the urban core more bike-friendly and enabling workers to commute by bike.” Kroner echoed Wetterich in his support of the project, noting it would “help connect our communities and business districts.” Concern over business traffic has been cited as one of the main objections to the project, despite evidence of success in cities such as New York.
Nern Ostendorf, Executive Director of Cincinnati nonprofit Queen City Bike and active volunteer with MoBo in Northside, played a large role in the community outreach Seelbach cited in his comments to Wetterich of the Courier. In a private e-mail, Ostendorf said of Queen City Bike and Cincinnati DOTE that both “reached out to neighborhoods, businesses, and feedback from the cycling community since the project was first announced in 2013.”
Last year, I contacted Ostendorf after a bike accident on the Central Parkway landed me in University Hospital’s Emergency Room. Cycling home from work in April of 2013, a motorist made a left hand turn into me at the intersection of Central Parkway and Marshall Avenue. I sustained minor injuries from the accident, but I did not cycle again for six months after the accident – mostly from fear of being struck by another motorist. Northsiders can get downtown by bike using Spring Grove/Dalton, but this route is isolated, and bike lanes are car-width.
According to Ostendorf, many people are interested in riding a bike – to commute to work, for pleasure, to save on gas, etc. – but don’t because “it is currently too dangerous or stressful” to do so. Ostendorf said this population in particular would benefit from the bikeway project.
Following a last-minute, compromise vote at city hall on Wednesday, April 30, Mayor Cranley and members of City Council appoved the Central Bikeway Project. Additionally, council also voted to approve Cranley’s Bike Share project, which will provide bike rentals in Downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Uptown near the University of Cincinnati.
People will be able to rent bicycles and return them to stations operated by Cincy Bike Share. There will be about 300 bicycles available at 35 stations.
The goal is to open in August.The City will give $1.1 million to Cincy Bike Shares and $200,000 to four bike trails along Wasson Way, the Oasis Corridor, Mill Creek, and the Ohio River West Trail.
For more information about the Central Parkway Bikeway Project, contact Ostendorf at Queen City Bike at email@example.com.
By Alisa Balestra