cincinnati’s bike plan

an oxymoron, you say? for shame, for shame!

because it’s true: over on the cincinnati bicycle commuter message group, kathy in cincinnati, chair of cincinnati bike/PAC, notes that cincinnati city council “has approved an allocation for our first bike plan in 32 years.”

well, that’s exciting news, but i think there’s a fair amount of work to be done. and so does kathy — here’s the link to her comment, in which she requests feedback and wide distribution of what she calls a “VERY, VERY rough draft of the document we eventually hope to present to Council and the Department of Transportation about what we want to see in our new plan.” I’ve pasted the text of the document below; it’s also available as a download from the cincinnati bicycle commuters google group, under “files.”

one warning: feedback should reach kathy by january 21. reach her via email at

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The History of Bike Plans in Cincinnati


1976 :  City government requests a formal bike plan and establishes a volunteer, citizen-based advisory committee to put one together.  They work diligently for many months, three nights a week.  Nothing is ever done with their plan.


1992:  City Council establishes a volunteer advocacy/advisory committee: Cincinnati Bike/PAC.  The group meets faithfully in the basement of City Hall every month.  Later the group moves to Arnolds where beer is incorporated to counterbalance frustration over lack of progress.


2009:  The Institutionalization of Cycling begins with the funding of a professionally developed city bike plan.  Thank-you, City Council.


Why Are Bikes Important?


The bicycle is an agent of change.  It is the most inexpensive mode of travel, provides cardiovascular fitness and door-to-door access.  It reduces air pollution, global warming and acid rain, decreases reliance on fossil-based fuels and decreases noise pollution from automobiles.  It provides mobility for citizens without cars or those too young to drive.  It improves the overall quality of life for everyone in the city.


Why Is A Bike Plan Important?


  1. Bicycle Friendly Cities such as Portland, Seattle, Madison, and Chicago are considered the most live-able places and are attracting young people at a faster rate than other cities.


  1. The institutionalization of cycling through policies, programs and procedures of various governmental agencies is the most critical measure to increase cycling.


  1. Cities with bike plans project higher urban density in their city centers and plan accordingly for it as more residents move downtown to homes that do not require a car to get around.


  1. States and communities of all sizes throughout the country are undertaking significant investments to encourage bicycle and pedestrian transportation.  Federal policy through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century

(TEA-21) legislation strongly supports such activities and significant sources of funding for these types of projects has been made available through Transportation Enhancement Program and, in non-attainment areas, through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement program of TEA-21.




What Does A Successful Bike Plan Look Like?


  1. Successful bike plans are not stand-alone projects.  Cities that are successful in increasing bike usage also have general plans that integrate cycling into the overall vision of future transportation.


  1. Successful bike plans are considered essential to sustainability and green initiatives.


What Do Cyclists in Cincinnati Want Most?


  1. A Bicycle Safety Campaign to Educate the Public and Police


  1. Safe and convenient bicycle parking


  1. Street Markings, particularly “Sharrows”


  1. Bicycle facilities that connect the West Side


What Are the Elements of a Good Bike Plan?




  1. Establish Complete Streets design standards.  A Complete Street is an inclusive view of the transportation environment with equal consideration for all users, one that works not only for motorists but also for bicyclists, transit riders, and pedestrians (including those with disabilities).  An Incomplete Street is one where there are gaps or too few usable sidewalks & bikeways.  Thinking in terms of a complete street leads to accommodating bicycles as a routine part of planning, design and construction of transportation facilities.


  1.  Establish a Spot Improvement Program for implementation of low-cost improvements to maintain and enhance bicycle facilities.  Even before new bikeways are developed, there is the need to keep roads and sidewalks in good condition for bicycling.  What may constitute a hazard for a bicyclist usually is not a concern to a motorist or pedestrian and is not addressed in routine maintenance operations.  Many cities have adopted Spot Improvement Programs to deal with hazards and keep bikeways well maintained.  Actions typically addressed include sweeping, pothole patching, drain grate repair, signing and striping, bicycle rack installation, and traffic signal modifications.  An appropriate funding level to devote to the Spot Improvement Program is a minimum of $50,000 per year.




  1. A full-time staff position dedicated to bicycle issues must be established.  A bicycle Coordinator would advise on City as well as County concerns.  An important task of the Bicycle Coordinator would be to take part in the formal review process.  The Bicycle Coordinator should review all plans, designs and policies.  Working within such a formal process, supported by bicycle-friendly policies, guidelines and standards, the Bicycle Coordinator would be in a position to orchestrate real improvements.  The Coordinator must also have stated policies and guidelines to direct planning efforts.  Without all these actions, building a bicycle friendly environment will remain a constant up-hill battle and change will be slow in coming.


Specific duties of the Bicycle Coordinator include the following:

·        Implement and update the Bicycle Transportation Plan

·        Coordinate activities between departments and outside agencies

·        Serve on Steering Committees of transportation studies, representing bicycle interests

·        Serve as staff to Cincy Bike/PAC

·        Address citizens concerns and complaints

·        Make presentations for elected officials, neighborhood groups and other regarding bicycle issues, projects, etc.

·        Finalize bicycle policies, programs, standards and projects outlined in the Bicycle Transportation Plan

·        Work with both private and Public sectors to obtain funding for proposed projects and programs

·        Collect and analyze data pertinent to bicycle issues, such as accident data traffic counts and bicycle counts.


  1. Require the Bicycle Coordinator to hold at least an annual briefing to City Council and County Commissioners of priority projects and concerns.


  1. Make more streets in the city center two way and user friendly.


  1. Some communities spend as much as $1 million per year on independent bikeway projects.  Total cost of proposed bikeway systems vary significantly, but San Francisco’s 160 miles is estimated to cost $15 million and Portland’s 10-year plan of 378 miles is expected to cost over $40 million.


  1. Include bicycles in the capital planning process for all major capital projects.


  1. Convenient and secure bicycle parking is a key factor in encouraging bicycle use.    Zoning ordinances should require all future parking structures to provide bike racks.  Provide free, secure indoor parking for all-day bicycle commuters in City Garages.  Out door rack parking should be reserved for shoppers and short-term trips.  Introduce legislation to require large commercial buildings to require indoor parking.


  1. Connect bike routes to the same major destinations that car drivers want to reach:  central business districts, universities, hospitals, educational and cultural facilities.


  1. Adopt an All-Department Bicycle Policy to improve facilities, promote awareness, integrate bicycles with other modes of transportation and improve safety.  The responsibility for promoting bicycle friendly policies should be a citywide effort, not the role of any single department or administrator.


  1. Support for long-term Greenway (trail) projects is essential to the maximum use of bikes where riders of all skill levels feel safe.






  1.  Systematize Neighborhood Transportation Studies.


  1.  Modernize and improve ways to share information and develop projects with communities.  Provide information about all current and upcoming projects, where possible on the web.  Develop on-line feedback forums for all planning projects.  Develop a regular web site feature “Ask the Director.”  Offer Community Transportation Seminars to Neighborhood Councils.


  1. Train Community Leaders in transportation planning.  Establish a curriculum describing policy, technical and legal contexts for Transportation Decision Making.  Hold workshops for stakeholders citywide to strengthen mutual understanding and trust between administrators, community and elected leaders.


  1.  Adopt clear and measurable goals to determine yearly progress in implementing the bike plan.  Issue an annual report to communicate progress, problems encountered, and changes in the plan.


  1. Adopt Complete Street design templates for reconstruction projects.  Most cities    rely on overall street improvement projects to retrofit streets with bikeways.


  1. Revise existing roadway design standards to include bicycle facilities as part of typical roadway design cross-sections and General Development Policies


  1. Amend subdivision and zoning ordinances to incorporate policies and requirements for on-road bicycle facilities and bicycle parking as well as bicycle friendly ordinances. 


  1. Seek all potential funding opportunities to Implement the Bicycle Transportation Plan including City Budget, State and Federal Funds for bicycle projects and public and private partnerships to implement improvements.


  1. Implement Bicycle-Friendly Maintenance Procedures and Maintain Bicycle Facilities, sweep streets with bicycle lanes every six weeks, work with local organizations to develop an “Adopt a Bike Lane” campaign to clean bike lanes of debris.







  1. Establish a bicycle Safety Campaign in partnership with city agencies, cycling advocates, AAA and educational institutions.  Deliver the message of personal responsibility on bus stop shelters, buses, postcards, magazines and radio as well as general education about bikes and traffic laws in other forums.  (See New York’s LOOK program)


  1. Promote Public education through a brochure to be inserted in City Water Bills and handed out to driver’s education participants.  Change public behavior through an organized marketing campaign for Bike Month.






  1.  Implement weekend pedestrian and bicycle events and temporary bike corridors.


  1. Encourage Safe Routes to Schools Applications.  Cincinnati has not submitted a single application in the first 5 years of the federal program.  Sponsor and coordinate a Safe Routes to Schools Summit for schools and community council representatives.


  1. Appoint a public official to Co-Chair Cincy Bike/PAC similar to New York City where the Deputy Mayor for Community Development performs that role.  Formal organizations exist for the exchange of information on the state of cycling and more department leaders should be strongly encouraged to participate.


  1. Establish Bike Commuter Support Programs for City and County Employees.  Position bike rack prominently inside or outside these facilities.


  1. Establish a Bike Friendly Pledge and Recognition Program for Businesses that support biking.





  1. Appoint a liaison from the Police Department to Cincinnati Bike/PAC.


  1. Implement a voluntary bicycle registration program to deter theft.  Cyclists could have an ID number engraved on their bike at the local police precinct.


  1. Establish a specific training program regarding traffic law as it applies to bicyclists for all police officers.



Phase I

Establish a Bike Hotline (both by phone and on-line) and a Spot Improvement Program

Reinforce established bike routes with Sharrows on roads scheduled for refit

Establish secure bike parking in city garages

Public Education pamphlet in city water bills

Sponsor Safe Routes to Schools Summit


Phase II


Phase III




1 Comment

Filed under advocacy, cincycycling

One response to “cincinnati’s bike plan

  1. great blog, man. wish I was going to be around here longer to enjoy this.

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