City gets a "C" on first-ever Bicycling Report Card but real opportunity exists for improvement

Taking cues from San Francisco, the City of Cincinnati engaged the local bicycling community in the City's first-ever Bicycling Report Card - an annual survey used to gauge the progress being made for two wheeled transportation in the city.

Almost 600 people answered the report card questions distributed through the City's Bicycle Transportation Program earlier this year. More than 70 percent of the total respondents indicated that they ride a bicycle at least once per week, with 75 percent of the respondents falling within the 25 to 54 year-old age bracket.

While the new Bicycling Report Card is a step in the right direction, it is clear that current or potential bicyclists feel there is still much to be done to make Cincinnati bike friendly after assigning the City a "C" grade.

"The survey results will be incredibly helpful to us as we move forward over the course of the next year," said Melissa McVay with Cincinnati's Department of Transportation & Engineering.  "I often hear people say that Cincinnati's topography will prevent us from ever really increasing our mode share numbers for cycling, but only 22 percent of the survey's respondents cited topography as an obstacle."

Perhaps the most important piece of data was what people said was keeping them from riding more often.  Of the roughly 600 respondents, 61.5 percent said that there were not enough bike lanes, while only 50 percent cited weather as an obstacle.

"This tells me that we have a very real opportunity to make bicycles as much a part of everyday life here as they are in San Francisco or Portland," said McVay.  "The feedback about bike lanes being such an important factor compliments much of the research we've seen on obstacles to increasing mode share - particularly for women.  This gives us additional incentive to build as many on-street facilities as we can."

The City recently opened up a 1-mile stretch of new dedicated bike lanes along Dana Avenue between Madison Road and Grigg Avenue.  The new bike lanes were installed as part of a "road diet" according to McVay, which included the removal of two vehicle lanes and the addition of two striped, five-foot wide bicycle lanes.

"The City is working to utilize every opportunity we can to install bicycle facilities," said Michael Moore, Interim Director, Department of Transportation & Engineering.  "Dana Avenue was an especially cost-effective opportunity for us because the street was already being repaved as part of the City's Street Rehabilitation Program."

Cincinnati now has more than 8 miles of dedicated bike lanes throughout the city, with another 2.58 miles of sharrows along city streets.  Another 340 miles of roadway is being studied as part of the Bike Plan process.  Additional Street Rehabilitation and Transportation Design projects will also be evaluated during the design phase to see how bikes or pedestrians can be best included as well.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
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