A compromise on Central Pkwy bike lanes, but some on Council not supportive
Update 4/23/14 at 10:30 am:
A business owner who's asking the city to modify a plan to install protected bike lanes on Central Parkway is now offering to raise private money to assist with the project.
Tim Haines wants to preserve on-street parking in front of his building. He's asking council members to support Vice Mayor David Mann's compromise motion introduced Tuesday. It would take the bike lanes out of the travel lanes on Central Parkway and place them closer to the sidewalk on a separate path between Ravine and Brighton Streets.
"It is not too late (for you) to accept a change that is in the best interest of the city given the developments/progress that have occurred since the original plan was adopted," Haines wrote in a letter. "And given that substantially none of the businesses along the Parkway were notified until after the DOTE (Department of Transportation and Engineering) had already decided what they wanted to do. We simply did not have a say."
Haines said he has spoken with DOTE Director Michael Moore, who proposed the possible solution during a public hearing Monday. Haines said he believes this is the best overall resolution in order to keep the project moving forward.
"I have offered to Mr. Moore that we would financially participate with private funding in the construction of the path as it relates to his and Vice Mayor Mann's proposed change," Haines wrote. "Additionally, I have offered to place a bike repair station in front of the property for the cyclists."
A council committee is expected to discuss Mann's motion next Tuesday.
Vice Mayor David Mann Tuesday issued the following statement:
The Administration has come up with a common sense compromise that maintains the protected aspect of the entire bike lane project for bikers while minimizing the negative impact on a new development that has brought 60 precious jobs to our city at a time when the unemployment rate is unacceptably high and jobs are paramount. We routinely spend hundreds of thousands of dollars as a city to create new jobs in our community. We should not approve a new project that places 60 newly created jobs in jeopardy when such a sensible accommodation is available. Governing is the art of balancing interests and goals. I favor this common sense compromise. Just to be clear, without this accommodation, I do not support the bike lane project on Central Parkway and believe that it should not go forward.
A Cincinnati Council committee heard from lots of people Monday who think installing protected bicycle lanes on Central Parkway is a good idea.
The group also heard from some business owners who fear the plan will cause traffic delays and take away parking near their buildings.
Some council members are particularly concerned about one facility near Ravine Street, which has several businesses located in it and about 60 to 70 jobs.
City transportation officials proposed a compromise to deal with that issue. It involves moving the bike lane out of traffic lanes and closer to the sidewalk. But it would add about $100,000 dollars to the project.
Tim Haines owns the building at 2145 Central Parkway, and he said he talked with city transportation officials in September after they had already decided on a plan for the protected bicycle lanes.
“But when people say Tim you shouldn’t have come forward at the 11th hour,” Haines said. “I along with all these other business owners, we found out at the 11th hour, we had no option.”
Supporters of the protected bike lanes who testified at Monday’s hearing outnumbered those who were opposed.
“I believe that the addition of a bike lane on this key route would connect neighborhoods and increase mobility to individuals with limited transportation resources,” said Edgar Powell. “Clearly the bike lane would add revenue to the city and its residents.”
The Neighborhoods Committee took no action on the compromise proposal nor was there any legislative item on the meeting agenda to stop or modify the existing bike lane proposal.
Vice Mayor David Mann said the compromise should be considered.
“It’s a way to address a legitimate concern, it’s a way to continue with the dedicated bike lanes,” Mann said. “So I for one am going to pursue that.”
The city faces a May 1st deadline to sign a contract for the bicycle lanes.
At least four council members including Chris Seelbach support the original plan, which Council unanimously passed last November.
“The project cannot be stalled or delayed or paused by anyone including the mayor unless there is another ordinance that goes through committee, that goes through the full Council, and that passes with five votes,” Seelbach said.
Seelbach said until then the city administration has to move forward with the project.
Council rules could make it difficult for the compromise supporters to get an ordinance through Council on the issue before May 1st. City administrators legally have to follow the November action, but it is unclear if project supporters on Council have any way to force officials to sign a contract.
The protected bike lanes would eventually stretch along Central Parkway from Downtown to the Cincinnati State campus. The first phase would construct protected bike lanes this year from Elm Street to Marshall Avenue in Clifton. Another section could be completed next year between Clifton Hill Avenue and Ludlow. The final piece cannot be finished until construction work is done on the I-75 project.
The project is mostly funded with a $500,000 dollar grant from the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments. The city is contributing $125,000. The city would also have to absorb the cost of the compromise should it be accepted.