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Newport Tries Out Temporary Bike Lanes

Ann Thompson
From left: Project Chair Rachel Comte and Wade Johnston with Green Umbrella stand just off the foot of the Purple People Bridge where a temporary bike lane will be on Saratoga.

If you want to help build temporary bike lanes in Newport, Connect NKY and Tri-State Trails could use your help Saturday. They're hoping to show the city permanent ones are needed.

Urban planner Rachel Comte says Northern Kentucky is behind when it comes to other bike-friendly areas in the U.S. "We want to get the people out and biking, not the 'put your spandex on and ride 100 miles' people. It's more, go down Sixth Street; connect to Bellevue; to the Kroger; the high school. Get everyone out and riding."

She's the project chair for the temporary bike lanes paid for by The Devou Good Project.

Comte says there's lots of evidence people want to ride bikes around town. "We're seeing people move into the cities everywhere because people want to get out of their cars. They want to bike. They want to walk. It's healthier."

This summer she asked Newport residents where they wanted the bike lanes, where they wanted to travel, and what areas they felt most scared when riding.

"What's so critical to bike infrastructure being successful is having facilities that people feel safe, it feels convenient, it's separated from traffic and we're trying to do it with this project," says Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella.

The temporary lanes will be on Saratoga and Fifth and Sixth Streets. Saratoga is right off the Purple People Bridge, which Johnston says is the most highly traveled trail in a nine-county region - 1,900 people cross on foot and bikes every day.

"We view this project in Newport as an opportunity to show that bike lanes are not some scary thing that are going to ruin our downtown, but bike lanes are going to make our neighborhoods more livable," Johnston says.

Bike enthusiasts hope Newport makes the lanes permanent. Counters will determine how many people used them.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.