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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bike lanes coming to Spring Grove Avenue

In a press conference yesterday at Cincinnati City Hall, Council Member Greg Harris announced that Spring Grove Avenue would receive two miles of dedicated bike lanes as part of a planned roadway repaving effort set for the spring. The bike lane would connect downtown and the western fringe of the core to Clifton and Northside.


Those who spoke at the press conference included Kathy Holwadel, Chair of Cincinnati's Bike/PAC, who voiced strong support for the measure. As a regular commuter that takes her along Spring Grove Avenue, she noted that while the road is relatively safe, a dedicated lane would let drivers know that cyclists are part of the road much like an automobile.


Gary Wright, a spokesman for Queen City Bike, stated that the inclusion of the bike lane would be a step in the right direction in making Cincinnati's neighborhoods and streets livable and green, environmentally friendly and safe. He continued by stating that the bike lanes is a direction that the city and neighborhoods must exploit for the future as a healthy, environmentally friendly transportation alternative to the automobile, confirmed in countless surveys that clearly show that citizens desire methods of transport that do not include a car.


Reactions, to the announcement, have been generally positive. Local transit enthusiast and avid bicyclist Jake Mecklenborg is pleased with the announcement but says the best solution would ultimately be a completely separate bike path divided by a barrier for safety purposes.


Lauren Sullivan, who has spearheaded the nationally acclaimed New Orleans cycling map project (NolaCycle), told UrbanCincy that she supports the lanes because they add visibility to the cyclist, although she noted that dedicated bike lanes were not entirely necessary due to the excessive width and lack of traffic of Spring Grove Avenue. Lauren went on to say that bike lanes should be appropriated on hills where bike and automobile conflicts are more likely, following with cross-town routes. In addition, she voiced comment for the installation of "Share the Road" and other associated bike signage and shared lane striping along Central Parkway, a popular cycling route.


Finally, John Hoebbel, an architecture student at DAAP, said that the inclusion of the bike lane would "enhance the natural connection between downtown and Northside," adding that the lane is ideal due to Spring Grove Avenue's relative flatness.


Personally, I am in full support of the bike lane measure, and of similar attempts elsewhere. After having biked Spring Grove Avenue yesterday as part my usual training route, I find that the route is underutilized for both automobiles and cyclists, passing only a handful of trucks and cars and four cyclists. It is also overly wide, and I had no trouble staying within my lane as there is a wide shoulder and parking lane for most of the route. That said, the benefit of physical striping to denote a bike lane and the inclusion of additional lanes in the future, will only benefit cyclists while encouraging more to get out on the bike and enjoy the inherent benefits of cycling.


See below for the press conference:

3 comments:

Randy Simes said...

This just in...the City now has a pilot "sharrow" program that will launch this Spring. Check it out here - http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/sharrows/

Quim said...

Harris' bill was kinda passed. He wasn't really proposing the implementation of the lane but more of a study. What got passed was a request to the administration for a feasibility study.
Qualls, a cyclist & urban transportation wonk, voted for this but was against voting for the implementation. She cited the fact that many cyclists, myself included, are against the lanes. She also noted that, in the past, Cincinnati Bike/PAC has opposed bike lanes. Dunno what has changed - my snarky political side says it is entitlement mania.
One thing I did not know was that a median is in the works for Spring Grove Avenue where trees will be planted. Apparently, this might conflict with the addition of the bike lane. It will certainly make riding the rather stark street more inviting or cyclists.. I usually use Central Parkway. There is less debris & it's prettier.
Kathy Holwadel makes an illogical argument saying that separating autos and cyclists will let motorists know they have to share the road. It will only segregate the communities.
Bicycles should be part of the natural traffic pattern. Restriping lanes to give the curb lane a few extra inches, keeping the curb lane clear of debris is all that is needed.

Sherman Cahal said...

I understand that point, and I didn't know the history of the whole striping debate, so that is interesting to note. I think with this and the sharrow implementation (see above), that automobiles will co-exist with cyclists, but that no one system is perfect.

Bike lanes are desired where there is room to implement. There is no need to install lanes if it removes a critically-needed parking bay for residents, or if it requires much infrastructure overhaul, because of the sheer cost and/or burden. Sharrows are cheaper and can work on recently reconstructed roads where the right-lane is 14 ft. wide (e.g. Vine Street near Jefferson and MLK) because there is generous room for a cyclist to co-exist without conflict. They do not, however, provide a dedicated lane, but can encourage others to use that route.

I think a system that incorporates both is needed. Bike paths are all nice and safe, but is impractical in most cases.

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