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Downtown Signal Study Stuck in Political Traffic

Every weekday tens of thousands of commuters in downtown Cincinnati struggle in traffic to get onto the highway and back to their homes in other neighborhoods or the suburbs. However, City Hall is stalling on taking advantage of a unique opportunity to capitalize on funds to study and re-time the traffic signals to benefit all road users downtown.

The last time the traffic patterns of the city’s downtown Central Business District were studied was in the mid 1990’s. Back then the city had about 80,000 workers (a New York Times article puts the number at 82,000 in 1991) which is about 17,000 more than the most recent Downtown Cincinnati Inc. count of 65,000.

There are plenty of other things that have happened in downtown Cincinnati since the last traffic signal study, such as the reconfiguration and realignment of Fort Washington Way, the building of the Banks development, an increase of over 10,000 residents and of course the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar.

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Streetsblog.net

UPS Begins Delivering Packages via E-Trike in Portland

Deliveries by E-bike: Now happening in Portland. It's a beautiful thing. Photo: Bike Portland

Deliveries by e-trike: Now happening in Portland. Photo: Bike Portland

Delivery trucks are terrible for city streets, polluting the air, blocking bike lanes, endangering pedestrians and cyclists. But cities need the goods they carry.

One way around the problem of big trucks is to divide deliveries into smaller loads, carried with smaller vehicles. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports on an encouraging development on that front: UPS is piloting the use of an electric-assist trike for deliveries. There were already independent companies using trikes for deliveries in Portland, and the UPS move suggests larger companies may want to get in on the action, Maus reports:

Using trikes and other small, pedal-powered vehicles to deliver cargo in dense urban areas is relatively common in Europe. The European Cyclists’ Federation (an EU-funded non-profit) says 25 percent of all goods could potentially be delivered bicycles. That number rises to 50 percent when just considering lightweight cargo…

UPS Senior VP of Global Engineering and Sustainability Mark Wallace, UPS senior VP of global engineering and sustainability said using pedal-power gets back to his company’s roots. They started 109 years ago as a bike messenger company. “While we have evolved and developed a vast network of ground and air vehicles,” Wallace said, “the bicycle may be making a comeback as we navigate through crowded urban areas and continue our focus on environmental sustainability.”

UPS’s new trike will share the bike lanes with existing local pedal-powered freight delivery companies like B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery and Portland Pedal Power — two businesses with successful track records…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Cleveland RTA Waiting on State Regarding Sales Tax Funding (Plain Dealer)
  • SORTA Users Face Major Service Cuts in 2018 (Business Courier)
  • CEO W. Curtis Stitt Explains How He’s Making Improvements at COTA (Smart Business)
  • Little Duck Creek Trail to Be Extended Through Madisonville (Enquirer)
  • Are Roundabouts a Smart Fix for SW Ohio Streets? (WCPO)
  • Cities Should Think Twice About Building Parking Garages (GreenBiz)
  • Cities Need to Develop Comprehensive and Integrated Bike Networks (Urban Omnibus)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog USA

Booting Buses Off Public Square, Cleveland Deals Another Blow to Transit

Protestors gathered in Public Square last weekend to demand buses be returned to Superior Avenue. Photo: Angie Schmitt

Protestors gathered in Public Square last weekend to demand the return of bus routes to Superior Avenue. Photo: Angie Schmitt

Transit riders in Cleveland can’t get a break.

Last year, Greater Cleveland RTA, facing a budget crisis, was forced to raise fares and cut service. Each trip now costs $2.50 — no transfer included — an 11 percent hike, and riders are getting worse service for their dollar. Thanks to a state decision exempting some healthcare spending from sales tax, the RTA is again facing a large shortfall this year.

Piling on to these problems is Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who decided to reroute buses around the city’s Public Square last month, undoing an earlier deal intended to protect transit riders. The square is the hub of the region’s bus system.

Public Square was recently redesigned by starchitect James Corner (of High Line fame) at a cost of $50 million. The project was intended to bolster Cleveland’s image for out-of-town visitors ahead of the Republican National Convention. It called for closing two cross streets — Ontario and Superior — to car traffic in order to establish a contiguous four-block public space in the center of downtown. One of those streets, Superior, was supposed to remain open to buses.

Up until the redesign, bus passengers made 20,000 transfers inside Public Square each day. The routing offered convenient access to both the hub of the city’s rail system (across the street in Terminal Tower) and the Healthline BRT, just outside the square. Public Square primarily served working class people waiting for buses and making connections.

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Cincinnati Ranks as Top Bike City

This post is a guest post from contributor Paige Hensley

The 2016 biennial list from Bicycling.com shows Cincinnati ranked 36th out of 50 bike-friendly US cities. The ranking is determined by variables such as the number of bicycle facilities, bicycle-friendly businesses, bike-share programs, and the length and safety of infrastructure, amongst others. This year and since 2014, Cincinnati has seen a dramatic increase in bikeability, due to Red Bike and the Central Parkway bike lane, being hailed the 3rd fastest growing biking community in the US. Even with our successes, Cincinnati has fallen from last year’s rank of #35. So, why the fall from #35?

Bicycling.com claims the lack of progress on the City’s Bicycle Transportation Plan, adopted in 2010, coupled with the increasing urban population, with little access to bicycle infrastructure, for the decrease. However, the final 4.1 miles of the 7.6 mile Wasson Way was purchased just prior to the release of the biennial list. This completes the purchase of the route, which could have positively affected this year’s ranking, had it been taken into account.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Akron Making $5.5 Million in Upgrades to E. Market Street (Plain Dealer)
  • Walnut Hills Embraces “Creative Placemaking” to Breathe New Life Into Community (Soapbox)
  • Shaker Heights Tries to Reinvent Van Aken District (Cleveland Magazine)
  • Major Funding Announcements Could Bring Cincy’s Walkable FBC to Life (WCPO)
  • New Townhomes Soon to Welcome Residents to Downtown Dayton (Business Journal)
  • Should the U.S. Really Spend $1 Trillion on New Infrastructure? (Transport Politic)
  • Unchecked Motorist Distractions Spark Rise in Traffic Deaths (New York Times)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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New Western Hills Viaduct Could Arrive in Late 2020s

City officials recently unveiled plans for a new Western Hills Viaduct to replace the 84-year-old structure.

Built in 1931, the viaduct serves as the West Side’s main connection to the city’s urban core. “It affects everybody,” said Cincinnati City Engineer Richard Szekeresh, the project manager. Over 71,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day. However, a city study back in 2012 highlighted the bridge’s deteriorating structural conditions and the poor pedestrian and bicycle accessibility.

The current viaduct is a car haven. Vehicles zoom by a single, narrow sidewalk along the southern edge and cyclists are rare. According to Department of Transportation and Engineering officials, the new structure will be pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly and built to light rail specifications.

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Streetsblog.net

From Pennsylvania, a Preview of How Trump & Co. Might Bully Cities

How much will cities be threatened by the impending Trump presidency? An early front in this confrontation concerns immigration.

The money that supports revitalization programs in cities like Philadelphia is being held up for punitive cuts by a Pennsylvania lawmaker. Here Philadelphia's North Fifth Street Revitalization Project leaders participate in a community cleanup day. Photo: Plan Philly

Withholding Community Development Block Grants from from sanctuary cities would devastate organizations like Philadelphia’s North Fifth Street Revitalization Project. Photo: Plan Philly

Trump has threatened to revoke federal funds from hundreds of “sanctuary cities” that do not report undocumented immigrants to federal officials.

Jake Blumgart at Plan Philly reports that Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey has already embraced the spirit of Trump’s proposal, calling for the feds to withhold Philadelphia’s Community Development Block Grants because of its sanctuary city policies:

The CDBG program is a flexible financial assistance program for economically distressed jurisdictions. In Philadelphia, it supports a diverse array of more than 20 programs, from financial counseling to help families access Earned Income Tax Credits to security deposit assistance for homeless families..

A quarter of the funding supports economic development initiatives like those that [Philip] Green’s North 5th Street organization utilizes. For commercial corridor support organizations in neighborhoods like Olney, and for community development corporations more broadly, CDBG are an essential source of support.

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Streetsblog Chicago

Black Leaders Discuss Their Efforts to Promote Equity in Mobility Advocacy

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Moderator Sahra Sulaiman with panelists Tamika Butler and Zahra Alabanza. Photo: Jean Khut

Editor’s note: Streetsblog Chicago sent writer Jean Khut to Atlanta last month to report on The Untokening and share lessons from the event that could be applied to transportation justice efforts in our city. We’ll be running another post on the main Untokening activities in the near future. 

In early November, mobility advocates from across the United States gathered in Atlanta for The Untokening, a “convening” to address equity issues in transportation and public spaces. The event was an extension of this year’s Facing Race Conference, held in Atlanta earlier that weekend.

In conjunction with the convening, The Untokening and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition hosted a panel discussion called “LA X ATL Exchange: Race, Place & Justice,” featuring Tamika Butler, director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and Zahra Alabanza, co-founder of the Atlanta chapter of Red, Bike, and Green. Sahra Sulaiman, a communities editor at Los Angeles Streetsblog, served as the moderator.

Walking, biking, and transit advocacy groups often struggle with how to define equity in their work. During the panel Butler said some bike advocates she knew felt there weren’t enough voices representing people who’ve been marginalized by systemic prejudices.

Since starting her position at the LACBC in 2014, Butler has become one of the most prominent voices promoting equity in active transportation. She grew up in Omaha and previously worked as a civil rights lawyer. Butler wasn’t into biking until a friend convinced her to do AIDS/Lifecycle, a fundraising bike ride from San Francisco to L.A. It was there where she met her wife Kelly and found her passion for bikes.

Butler said she has dealt with her share of of racism and sexism in the bike world. One common criticism she gets is that she isn’t “bikey” enough to lead an advocacy organization, which begs the question of what this term actually means. Are her critics saying she isn’t riding her bike enough for transportation and/or recreation to be a bike advocate? Butler doesn’t know the answer, but feels that she wouldn’t face the same criticism if she were a white male.

Likewise, Alabanza didn’t fit the profile many other Atlanta bike advocates were used to. She moved to the city fifteen years ago with a background in community organizing, focusing on LGBTQ issues and reproductive rights. Eventually, her interest in social justice and biking intersected. She saw the need to create spaces for people of color to use biking as a way to form relationships and build community.

RBG originated in Oakland, California in 2007, and Alabanza co-founded the Atlanta chapter in 2012. At first many in the Atlanta bike scene didn’t know what to make of RGB and were surprised that they didn’t address some of the issues bike advocacy groups have traditionally focused on, such as promoting bike lanes and helmets. The volunteer-run group, which describes itself as “exclusively Black,” uses biking a way to address economic, environmental, and mental and physical health issues that impact African-American communities.

Alabanza said her work with RBG allows her to be “unapologetically Black.” Even though she helped create a positive, empowering space for African-Americans, she has faced some backlash, especially during the group’s first year. Alabanza has been accused of reverse racism from people who didn’t understand the need for an all-Black space.

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Gallery to Highlight How People Use Public Space

Space, the final frontier… This famous phrase immediately evokes thoughts of stars and interplanetary travel, but there is a more common type of space that we navigate every day. That space, or the creative utilization of space in the built environment is the highlight of a new gallery exhibit at GBBN Architects’ EDGE Gallery this Friday.

The exhibit titled, “’C’mon Space! Whatcha Gonna Do For Me?” features the work of GBBN in researching common space through pop-up public space interventions. The exhibition will include a collection of diagrams, video, imagery, digital and physical models that summarize the findings of the research; a chronicle of the journey of our research project; and present the successes and failures of typical common space.

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