Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cincinnati adopts new bicycle plan

Cincinnati's bicycle infrastructure will change dramatically as the result of City Council's passage of a new Bicycle Transportation Plan.

The 15-year plan will add 329 miles of on-street and off-street bike lanes and other improvements, with the stated goals of reducing bicycle crashes and injury and of doubling the number of regular riders over the next five years.

Over the next 18 months, the City plans immediate improvements for three major routes in the City, representing approximately 14 miles: Madison Road, Spring Grove Avenue, and Riverside Drive.

In a media release, Gary Wright, president of advocacy group Queen City Bike, said that the plan doesn't add any additional transportation infrastructure; rather, it adapts existing transportation infrastructure in a cost-effective way.

Many of the on-street changes will be made during routine road maintenance or rehabilitation projects. The City estimates that plan implementation will cost less than $1 million annually.

"Even those who never ride a bicycle themselves will benefit," Wright said. "Having more bicycles on our streets increases the vitality of our neighborhoods just by making them more attractive to other people. People attract people."

A companion ordinance, also passed by City Council, includes a three-foot passing rule when overtaking a cyclist, a prohibition of driving or parking in bike lanes, and other changes to the Cincinnati Municipal Code meant to protect the safety of riders.

Process and implementation

The new Bicycle Transportation Plan, developed over a ten-month process that kicked off in September 2009, represents the first update to the City's bicycle policy since the 1970s.

Five major objectives were developed in the plan: Providing an attractive and functional network of bicycle infrastructure; supporting programs and initiatives that encourage bicycling for its health, recreational, transportation, economic and environmental benefits; improving bicycle safety through enforcement, education and engineering initiatives; fostering public attitudes toward bicycling to include mutual respect among motorists and bicyclists and a general perception of bicycling as a safe mode of transportation and recreation; and adopting city policies and create institutional structure to implement the Bicycle Transportation Plan goals and objectives and evaluate progress toward achieving its goals.

As part of the process, more than 350 miles of City streets were studied and inventoried, then evaluated on how each would contribute to a City-wide system and how they measured up to specific route selection criteria.

Recommended facilities and improvements were grouped into four phases, with near-term projects scheduled for completion by December 2011, Phase I by 2015, Phase II by 2020, and Phase III by 2025.

The document was further refined through work with local bicycle groups. A series of stakeholder meetings, open houses, focus groups, and online surveys was also instrumental.

"This bike plan can help turn this into the 21st century city that we all want it to be, one that can look forward to more streets, shops, cafes, and parks filled with people, where people will want to be," Wright said.

Several elements of the plan have already been implemented, including mandated bicycle parking for new parking garage construction, a new bike corral in Northside, painted sharrows, and signage.

The new Bicycle Master Plan has not yet been posted online.

Previous reading on BC:
New parking facilities required to provide bicycle parking (5/24/10)
Metro, TANK to offer free rides on Bike to Work Day (5/11/10)
Bike Month begins, hopes to change local bicycle culture (5/3/10)
Region's first bike 'corral' opens in Northside (4/27/10)
Report on Cincinnati Parks bike policies due this month (4/8/10)