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$1 million proposed for speed cushions and other pedestrian safety projects in Cincinnati

Cincinnati's budget for pedestrian safety would nearly double with a newly proposed one-time investment of $1 million. Mayor Aftab Pureval says the money would be used to pilot safety measures never before used in Cincinnati.

"These include hardened center lines to require slower left hand turns, wedges to require square turns onto one way streets, and artistic bump outs to give pedestrians a protected lane while also providing neighborhoods the opportunity to take creative ownership over their street spaces," Pureval said.

The $1 million would come from last year's federal stimulus. Council will vote on the proposal in the next two to three weeks.

Last year in Cincinnati, 305 people were hit by cars and seven died, including a 7-year-old child.

The parents of 15-year-old Gabby Rodriguez, who was killed in a hit-and-run in Westwood in 2018, say they're encouraged by the new emphasis on safety.

"I want every kid to be able to go to school safely, to catch their bus safely," said Shawna Rodriguez, Gabby's mom. "And I'm just over the moon excited to hear about the speed cushions being put in that area of Harrison Avenue. I just know it's going to make a difference."

Council Member Mark Jeffreys recently hosted a "Safer Streets Now" forum, where experts from other cities explained some of the unconventional safety options available. Jeffreys says Cincinnati can learn from the success of other cities.

"The typical curb extensions are $80,000 to $100,000; it's cost prohibitive to do that in every neighborhood," Jeffreys said. "These solutions are a lot more cost effective: about $10,000 to $15,000."

See examples of the projects below. Story continues after.

Speed cushions coming to 30 neighborhoods

The funding would also expand an existing project to install speed cushions on busy streets. Similar to the more typical speed humps, a speed cushion has cut outs that allow emergency vehicles to pass through without slowing down.

The Department of Transportation and Engineering piloted temporary speed cushions on Winneste Ave. in Winton Hills last year. They found the average speed dropped from 37 mph to 20 mph (the speed limit there is 25 mph).

The Department of Transportation and Engineering has identified 10 streets for permanent speed cushion installations, using the fiscal year 2022 budget of $1.2 million for pedestrian safety:

  • Avondale: Reading from Hickman to Shuttlesworth
  • East Price Hill: Warsaw from Grand to McPherson
  • Corryville/Avondale: Burnet from University to Kasota
  • Westwood: Harrison from McHenry to Lafeuille
  • Roselawn: Reading from Seymour to Shenandoah
  • West End: Linn from Oliver to Clark
  • Winton Hills: Winneste from Craft to WinMed Health
  • Evanston: Montgomery from Blair to Dana
  • West Price Hill: Glenway from Gilsey to Schiff
  • Mt. Auburn/Walnut Hills: Reading from Dorchester to Kinsey

The new investment would add another 20 projects to the list, for a total of 30 neighborhoods getting new speed cushions. DOTE started with priorities submitted by each community council. Each suggestion was then scored using vehicle and pedestrian crash data and proximity to a neighborhood business district, school, recreation center, park, library, etc.
Construction on the 10 initial speed cushion projects is expected to begin this summer.

What can the city do about speed limits?

Cincinnati can't set speed limits on state routes within city limits. Council recently passed a resolution, introduced by Council Member Jeffreys, asking the state legislature to allow municipalities in Ohio to set set speed limits within their jurisdiction.

"Thirty-five miles an hour, where there's a residential apartment or house there, nobody would want to live there," Jeffreys said. "And the people who are running through the neighborhoods at fast speeds — 35 really is 50 to 55 — we all know that that's what's happening."

Jeffreys says Cincinnati's resolution has been shared with six other Ohio cities. So far, Portsmouth and Toledo have passed similar resolutions, and Columbus, Cleveland, and Youngstown may do so in the next few weeks.

A recent radar study funded by the Devou Good Foundation looked at speeds on Hamilton Avenue in College Hill for one week in mid-February. The speed limit is 35 mph; the study found 681 cars going at least 55 mph, including 17 driving at least 85 mph.

See the full results below: