A handful of business owners along Central Parkway have taken exception to a progressive piece of cycling infrastructure the city is considering adding along Central Parkway between downtown and Clifton.
City Council’s Neighborhoods Committee will hold a hearing April 21 to allow both sides to offer their perspectives. Cyclists say the protected bike lanes will provide much needed security for riders, while the other side is claiming parking restrictions and traffic flow concerns could cause a decline in commercial activity.
John Juech, chief of staff for Vice Mayor David Mann, who is the committee chair, says the meeting will allow people on both sides to deliver input for the bike lane and allow everyone a better understanding of the plans.
“It seems to me different people have been hearing different things.” Juech says. “It’s like there’s all these things floating around in the ether that people have been hearing. Council hasn’t taken action as of late on this. We just want to have a hearing to clear the air.”
Last week, City Councilman Chris Seelbach submitted six letters in support of the Central Parkway Bike Lane Project, for which construction is slated for May. The plan involves creating a biking corridor to run all the way to Ludlow Avenue in Clifton, but a lack of federal grant money limited the first phase to run from Elm Street to Marshall Avenue.
Bike lanes will be widened in some areas, three feet of buffer space between bike lanes and vehicle lanes added and plastic bollards installed to provide a safer cycling lane. Where the flow of traffic intersects bike lanes, a strip of green thermoplastic will run several feet to alert drivers they are crossing over a bike lane. In its current incarnation, parking will be restricted in some areas during peak traffic hours and the bike lanes will take away from some existing traffic lanes.
The letters emphasized the importance of the safety protected bike lanes will provide, which will then translate into more cyclists on the road and a more positive appeal for living in the city. The letters also highlighted the need for a safer bike route in the specific corridor that will connect Northside, Clifton and the West End to Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.
“Dedicated and protected bike lanes on Central mean that I no longer have to live with close calls and near misses with vehicular traffic,” wrote Dan Reid, a Northside resident who often commutes by bike to OTR and the Central Business District for his job.
Opponents of the plan want an alternative route to include the Bank Street bike path to avoid parking restrictions on Central Parkway and circumvent a potentially problematic scenario of traffic congestion where drivers turn left onto Ravine Street. Some other criticisms involved the potential for blight caused by knocked down bollards and reduced traffic lanes.
“Hopefully, bike travel can be enhanced without a major negative impact on traffic flow between uptown and downtown; without negatively affecting the park-like, historic nature of Central Parkway and taking into account parking considerations for the sustainability and the future growth of Central Parkway business,” wrote Dave Petersen, West End Community Council President, in a letter to City Council dated Jan. 4.
The Department of Transportation and Engineering is expected to present a few tweaks to the plan at the Neighborhoods Committee meeting after working with the mayor’s office, which it says will be a “win-win solution for everybody.” The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. April 21.