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UPDATED: Clifton Avenue Bike Trail Is Staying Put — For Now

A rider on the Clifton Avenue protected bike lane.
Nick Swartsell
A rider on the Clifton Avenue protected bike lane.
Updated: September 1, 2021 at 12:44 PM EDT
Updated on Sept. 1: The Department of Transportation & Engineering is recommending the Clifton Avenue bike lane become a permanent fixture between the University of Cincinnati and Clifton's business district at Ludlow Avenue. The total price of the bike lane could be around $3 million.

In the meantime, City Manager Paula Boggs Muething said in a memo the temporary bike lane was supposed to come down in August. But it may be able to stay in place through the end of October pending a vote from city council members. It would have to begin being removed by Nov. 1 to accommodate snow removal, she said.

After muddled communication from Cincinnati officials, a mile-long Clifton Avenue bike lane is likely to stay in place, at least for now. But its long term future hasn't been decided yet.

The Devou Good Foundation donated $100,000 to Tri-State Trails to pilot the bike lane between the University of Cincinnati and Clifton's business district at Ludlow Avenue. It opened in late March.

At the time, the city manager included $2 million in the city's proposed budget to permanently fund the project, pending community feedback.

But according to Matt Butler, president at Devou Good Foundation, the Department of Transportation & Engineering sent a letter to the organization last week saying the bike lane had to start coming down Monday.

"We were told to remove it … And we don't know who made that decision, or why the decision was made," he said. "But that's the directive that we were given."

He says removing the bike lane will cost about $20,000, but the foundation is willing to instead donate another $100,000 to keep the bike lane in place.

The only feedback the foundation has received about the project, he says, is an objection to the aesthetics of it — cement parking curbs and plastic bollards to separate cyclists from cars.

"That's why we were working on a plan to beautify it," he said. "And we were hoping to get them (UC) to the table and say, 'Here's some ideas,' because, you know, DOTE has to implement things that are safe."

But the notice to quickly start taking down the bike lane was unexpected.

Director of Tri-State Trails Wade Johnston says they were also informed last week the bike lane had to start coming down. But he says the project is, at least temporarily, saved because of last-minute calls to city and elected officials.

City Council's Neighborhoods Committee Chair Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney said in a news release, "We were told that the city planned to dismantle the bike lane on Monday, August 30, but city administrators have assured us that the bike lane will stay in place pending the meeting for public comment."

Johnston said the public meetings will give stakeholders the opportunity to hear from the community about the bike lanes.

"I think that the decision that we heard last week was a little abrupt and we were a little surprised," he said. "And we're glad that there's a moment of pause to figure out what the community really thinks about this and make some decisions using that information."

Traffic Calming

The mile-long bike lane is part of a proposed 34-mile urban trail loop in the city, Johnston said.

"As the trail connects to uptown and all of these major employment destinations, it's really critical that we think about how people get from the trail to their destination," he said.

The Clifton Avenue bike lane, he said, is also meant to keep people safe.

According to data collected from a radar system, vehicles driving adjacent to the bike lane were able to keep going the 35 mile per hour speed limit. Speeding, however, was reduced.

"We've had people going 50 miles an hour, 60 miles an hour, even people going 76 miles an hour on Clifton Avenue," Devou Good Foundation's Butler said. "That speeding was reduced pretty dramatically. So that, we thought, was great because the data shows that if you're somebody that's walking or rolling, and you're hit at 20 miles an hour, you have a 90% chance of living. But if you're hit at 40 miles an hour, you only have a 10% chance of living."

Exact dates for the community input meeting haven't been announced yet, but Kearney said in a news release the meeting are expected to start next month.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.