Cincinnati strives to make streets safe for cyclists

Cincinnati strives to make streets safe for cyclists
(Source: City of Cincinnati)
(Source: City of Cincinnati)

CAMP WASHINGTON, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati Police are continuing to investigate a fatal accident between a Metro bus and a 59-year-old bicyclist.

Ronald Richardson was riding his bike when he was hit by the bus on Oakdale Avenue in Bond Hill on Tuesday night. Police are waiting on a bus inspection, toxicology report and accident reconstruction before deciding whether to bring charges. Police say eight passengers on the bus are all okay.

In the last three years, the City of Cincinnati has tripled on-street bicycle infrastructure which includes markings reminding drivers to share the road and bike lanes. However, cyclists say there is still a long road ahead.

Outside his OTR store, manager Matthew Baker argues the roads are fairly safe for bikers.

"I think downtown is one of the safest areas for cyclists because of that low speed, lots of traffic lights and there's so many cyclists downtown," he said.

But he says if you venture out of the area, you run into risks.

"It's really outskirts where the speed limits higher, there's longer distances between traffic lights is where it is a lot more dangerous," he said.

Sometimes it is the drivers causing problems. "I hate when they always pull right out into the intersection," said commuter bicyclist Nathan Kunce.

Sometimes the cyclists are to blame. "I see a lot of cyclists ride like total jerks, running red lights, running stop signs," acknowledged Baker.

The City is doing what it can to help everyone out. "We're definitely an up and coming city in terms of bike infrastructure and bike culture," said Sr. Planner Melissa McVay.

"Nationwide research shows that people in general and women in particular feel safer if they have a designated lane to ride their bike in," said McVay.

McVay says prior to 2009 the City had only five miles of bike lanes and "sharrows" which are arrows with a bicycle decal reminding drivers to share the road. Since 2009 an additional 10.5 miles of bike lanes and sharrows have been built. There are six new sets of bike lanes slated for installation this fall including Langdon Farm Rd, Ludlow Ave, Madison Rd, Mitchell Ave, Red Bank Rd, and Spring Grove Ave.

"We definitely have a lot of work to do to make our streets more bicycle-friendly, but we are moving faster and faster in the right direction," McVay said. "And to be clear, making our streets safer isn't just about infrastructure. People should feel safe riding bicycles in the street whether a bike lane is present or not – and that means more education."  

McVay says the city's bicycle commuter numbers are on the upswing.  With more riders on the road, however, bicyclists argue it is no surprise more accidents are making the headlines.

"Hopefully the number of cars will start going down and things will become a little friendlier and people will realize there's a lot more bikes out there than there used to be," said Baker.

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