Business owners push to make roadways safer for bikes

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Many business owners are pushing to see changes to a proposed project that would make the roads safer for bikers.

The city plans to add protected bike lanes to about a two miles stretch of Central Parkway Avenue. The new street design would go from Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine to Ludlow Avenue in Clifton. Instead of just painted bike lines, these lanes will have a physical barrier such as white plastic poles to separate the riders and traffic.

Those in favor of the current plan say it's an opportunity to expand transportation options and connect neighborhoods around Cincinnati.

But some business owners are concerned that the current plan restricts parking outside their buildings and the lane reductions will cause congestion.

Business owners say they're in favor of this project, but they really haven't been involved in the planning. They want to have their voice heard before it's too late.

Thursday, Tim Haines gathered several nearby business owners to talk about the options they have with this project. Many say traffic woes are a concern especially with the parking restrictions during peak hours, limiting traffic to one lane.

"If they're turning left and they're stopped, there's an endless row of cars behind them that are stopped in place waiting for that left turn to happen up Ravine," said Haines, with Relocation Strategies.

Haines believes a smart, safer alternative would be to adjust the route to the nearby Central Avenue instead of Central Parkway.

"That will always be a thoroughfare for bus traffic and emergency vehicles. Central Avenue could be a much stronger plan and we would love to see it re-routed there," said Haines.

Another idea Haines proposed is using some of the extra green space out front as the bike lane.

"It would not only be beautiful, it would create no traffic concerns and I would have to think it'd be substantially safer for bicyclists that go by," said Haines.

OTR Community Council president Ryan Messer fully supports the plan to bring protected bike lanes to Cincinnati, and he encourages the business owners to speak their mind.

"Whether it's this issue or any other, put our heads together and I think we can find a mutually agreed upon solution that really gets the best outcome for the community," said Messer.

It's unclear what the final path will look like, but the city will pay for it using a $500,000 federal grant and the required 20 percent matching funding.

"Bike ridership is significantly increasing so while you have those numbers increasing. If you can have an opportunity to increase safety at the same time, it is a win-win," said Messer.

"If nothing else, there could be some kind of vote to step back and take a second look at it," said Haines.

The previous city council unanimously approved this project. Mayor Cranley wants to have the current council review all the details before this project officially moves forward.

The neighborhoods committee plans to meet and vote on this issue on Monday at 2 p.m. If approved, work could begin as early as next month.

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