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Cincinnati Cyclists Can Now Ride the City's Second Protected Bike Lane

Nick Swartsell
A rider on the Clifton protected bike lane.

Getting around uptown just got a little safer and easier for cyclists. City officials, neighborhood groups, and cycling advocates cut the ribbon Saturday on a one-mile stretch of bike lane along Clifton Ave. between the University of Cincinnati and Clifton's business district at Ludlow Ave.

Tri-State Trails Director Wade Johnston says it's a big deal.

"This is just the second protected bike lane in Cincinnati," Johnston says. "I interact with a lot of people who enjoy bikes and the feedback I hear overwhelmingly, from the avid cyclist and beginners alike, is that most people don't feel safe riding next to cars ... this is about making bicycling accessible for people of all ages and ability levels."

The protected lane has both a northbound and southbound side, as well as protective cement parking curbs and plastic bollards to separate cyclists from traffic. Cars will be able to park outside the lane, providing added protection for cyclists. 

"Once we found out this was a safe way to ride bikes and connect these neighborhoods, city council unanimously approved it," and the mayor embraced it, City Council Member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney said at the ribbon cutting. Kearney helped move the proposal through city hall. 

The area's community councils worked with City Hall to get the bike lane installed in a minimum amount of time. The Devou Good Foundation, which advocates for safer cycling and walking in Greater Cincinnati, funded the lane's $50,000 cost. 

"What this represents is a paradigm shift in how we think about bike infrastructure," Clifton Town Meeting Trustee Mark Jefferys said. "The old way we would do bike infrastructure, we would study it and take a couple years to implement it. This, idea to execution, took six months. Here, we're going to pilot it and welcome feedback so we can optimize the design before we build it permanently."

For now, the bike lane is just a pilot program that will end August 1. Pending community feedback, the city manager has included $2 million the city's proposed budget to establish it permanently, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said at the ribbon cutting today.

"This has been a long-term goal of Clifton and CUF to connect this two-way bike track that I think will be hugely popular," Cranley said, noting the lane could eventually connect with nearby bike paths like Wasson Way. "If this neighborhood still likes this idea, in a couple weeks they should tell city council to keep it in the budget."