Bike lane

Largely promoted by Tri-State Trails, an initiative connecting bike trails in Cincinnati to form safe, usable routes, the two-way protection of the Straight Street to Ludlow bike lane provided a pilot program for future bike infrastructure in the city.

The two-way temporary protected bike lane that runs along Clifton Avenue has sparked conversation between the University of Cincinnati (UC) and surrounding neighborhoods. 

The bike lane was unveiled on March 27 extending from Straight Street to Ludlow Avenue, designed to provide a safer, more comfortable experience for bicyclists of all ages and abilities, according to the City of Cincinnati’s Bicycle Transportation Program

On Oct. 27, Cincinnati City Council voted to leave the temporary bike lane in place, for now.

A meeting of council’s neighborhoods committee is scheduled for November with representatives from both Clifton Town Meeting and UC to discuss the permanence of the bike lane.

Clifton Town Meeting is an advocate and driving force behind making the temporary bike lane a permanent feature of Clifton Avenue. Mark Jeffreys, a trustee for the Clifton Town Meeting who was recently elected to city council, cites safety concerns as a main reason why the bike lane should stay in place.

Jeffreys estimates that there are around 6,300 fewer cars speeding per week along the stretch of Clifton Ave. where the bike lane was temporarily installed. His data is from the Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering. Data is collected using speed radars, measuring average speeds before and after the installation of the temporary bike lane. 

“That data is fairly consistent with a lot of other cities that have put in protected bike lanes. So, it's frankly not surprising: the protected bike lane causes people to slow down,” Jeffreys said.

To make the bike lane a permanent fixture of the community, the city of Cincinnati estimates it will cost around $3 million, according to a city memo

Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails, told city council that $100,000 in private funds from the Devou Good Foundation has been identified to improve the bike lane’s design while funding is gathered for a permanent solution. However, Jeffreys suggests that this cost could be lowered with a few changes.

“In the interim, we do need what is termed ‘a comprehensive interim solution.’ The university has gone on record that they are open to that comprehensive interim solution,” said Jeffreys.

On the other hand, Jeffreys estimates it would take over $20,000 to take down the bike lane for good. Regardless of the decision, there will be an inevitable disruption to traffic along the bike lane’s route.

In comparison, the project cost, as of March 26, was $93,000 of which $17,000 was allocated to either take down the bike lane or make it permanent. 

The funds for the bike lane come from several places including the private funds from the Devou Good Foundation, the state of Ohio through infrastructure bills currently being passed, and, to an extent, the city’s own budget, according to Jeffreys.

While the Clifton Town Meeting is a supporter of a permanent solution for the bike lane, it will take more than just this one organization to make it happen. 

The bike lane stretches for one mile along Clifton Ave and runs through two different Cincinnati neighborhoods: Clifton and the CUF neighborhood, which includes Clifton Heights, University Heights and Fairview.

CUF has its own neighborhood organization called the CUF Neighborhood Association. The dividing line between the jurisdictions of the two neighborhood associations runs along Martin Lither King Drive.

“While we have an interest in what is going on there, that's not in the boundaries of our neighborhood association. So, it does have to be a collaborative effort with the CUF neighborhood association, as well as obviously the UC administration,” said Jeffreys.

M.B Reilly, spokesperson for the university, only released a brief statement regarding the upcoming Clifton town meeting.

“The university is not anti-bike lane,” said Reilly. “With student safety in mind, we feel the current set-up creates safety and traffic flow issues that deserve attention, and we are working with city and community stakeholders on a solution.” 

City administration is set to present a report to council on the status of the bike lane before the end of the year.