Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cinci Gets Green Lanes

Last week Cincinnati became the first city in Ohio to install green bike lanes. The bright (basically florescent) green color is being used to highlight conflict points where motorists must cross the bike lane in order to make a right turn or because they are coming off of a ramp. Research has shown that the bright coloring increases motorists' awareness of bicyclists at points where their paths cross. Cincinnati is starting with five green segments on Ludlow Avenue where it intersects with Spring Grove Ave, Old Ludlow Ave, Central Parkway, and the Cincinnati State driveway.

It really is BRIGHT green.

Green pavement has been used in a small number of cities nationwide, such as Chicago, New York, and DC. Some cities have used green pavement along the entire length of bike lanes,  some use green only in the intersections, and some use it only in the weave areas (like us). If you want more information on how colored pavement is being used elsewhere, NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide has a pretty good description.

In Cincinnati we are using green “thermoplastic” in our lanes, versus green paint. Thermosplastic is the material that is typically used in lane lines and stop bars, and it has a lifecycle of roughly 5-7 years. It comes in sheets, which are laid on the roadway and then torched so that the plastic melts onto the asphalt. We requested that the thermo be made retroreflective (so it’s visible in the dark), and we also had “skid-resistance” added  to the material (silica is added during production, and then again to the surface immediately before the material is torched). We’ll be looking for feedback from area bicyclists as to their experiences with the material in both wet and dry weather...

They placed an epoxy/glue on the asphalt before they laid and torched the thermo.

The installation of these lanes is a huge achievement for Cincinnati, in terms of the City Administration’s willingness to try something new. Hopefully it will lead to improved safety for cyclists as well. Studies in Austin showed that motorists were twice as likely to use a turn signal before crossing the green areas, and studies in Portland showed that motorists were significantly more likely to yield to cyclists when colored pavement was present.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Coolest Thing You Never Heard About

The fifth annual Moshtrocity took place in Cincinnati last weekend. The weekend-long freakbike fest is hosted by local bike club Mosh & Brew Cycle Crew and includes a scavenger hunt, cook out, bike polo triathlon (organized by Cincinnati Hardcourt), and bike games like chariot racing, tall-bike jousting, and foot-down.

This was my first year attending any of the Moshtrocity events so I don't know about past attendance, but it seemed like a really great turn out to me. There were eleven teams competing in the polo triathlon, which consisted of polo, foosball, flip-cup and mini-golf. This is only the second year that polo has been a part of Moshtrocity. The Cincinnati Recreation Commission built Cincinnati Hardcourt an official polo court last year, and Cincinnati is now one of only four cities in North America with an official, dedicated court. Which means hopefully we'll be hosting more and more tournaments here in the future.

Mini-golf windmill made out of bike polo mallets

There were at least 70 people at the bike games saturday night when Bike Polo Guy and I left around midnight. In addition to Cincinnati folks, we had groups come in from Columbus, Cleveland, Lexington, Louisville, Chicago, and Nashville (including a pretty big contingent from Rat Patrol clubs). Seeing so many people there (including from out of town) really brought home how much our bicycle culture is growing. Pretty amazing.

One of the chariots
The start of the race
My photography skills stink
Baby M on a small-tall
Tall-bike jousting, photo courtesy of Mel Fickenscher

I forgot to take a picture of the keg of espresso-flavored home-brew that may or may not have been sitting in the parking lot saturday night, but it was pretty awesome.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bike Prom 2012

I never got around to posting pictures from our first ever Bike Prom ride this past May, so below are a few of my favorites.  About 100 people RSVPd on facebook, but the actual turnout was much smaller than I had hoped for, only about 30 people actually showed up. I’m guessing it had something to do with the weather being so humid and close to 100 degrees... Still, we had a great time!

We rode from Hoffner Park in Northside down to the new Smale Riverfront Park Downtown (about 5 miles each way).

The Main Street Fountain

The Main Street Fountain

You can view the rest of Michael Providenti's Bike Prom pictures here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New ArtRack - Ohio!

This new rack was just installed on Main Street last thursday. The artist is John Dixon, and the rack was sponsored by the Over the Rhine Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization Corp. I love the red paint, it really pops, even from across the street. And I like the height too; it's really visible and easy to spot even with a car parked in front of it. I didn't have a bike with me to test the functionality, but it appears to be able to support at least four bikes (if people park politely), and the width of the posts won't be a problem at all for u-locks.

The front

The back

The plaque

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Smile More: Ride a Bike!

Celebrating both art and bicycles, the We Love to Ride Bikes event was one of the more unique rides that occurred during Bike Month in Cincinnati. The ride was a collaboration between local cyclists and the Contemporary Arts Center, and was a component of the Inside Out Project. The Inside Out Project is a global art project initiated by the street artist JR, recipient of the 2011 TED Prize. Project participants create black and white photographic portraits which are turned into posters and displayed publicly in their community. The posters are intended to give participants a voice and communicate a message about personal identity, beliefs, and values. Projects have occurred in multiple US cities as well as many other countries, including Israel, Pakistan, Thailand, France, Spain, Tunisia, and South Africa.

"I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we'll turn the world...INSIDE OUT." – JR

Our group’s theme was “Smile More: Ride a Bike!” We wanted our posters to communicate how riding bikes makes people smile (both cyclists and the people who see them riding), and makes us feel more connected to our community. All of our portraits include some part of a bike or bike accessory (helmet, wheel, bell etc). And since our posters were about bikes, we were determined to find a way to attach them to our bikes and do a celebratory ride with them! With help from the guys at Losantiville, we were able to turn some of our posters into 5-foot "feather flags" that attached to our bike racks, and the rest of the posters were mounted on cargo bikes or trailers. All photos are courtesy of the awesome Michael Providenti.

 After our ride we were treated to a lovely reception at the Contemporary Arts Center.

The best part of the whole thing was the random people we would pass on the street who would yell out, "What are you guys doing?!"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

BikeArt Poster Show

Last night was Cincinnati’s first ever BikeArt Poster Party, which celebrated the launch of our month-long BikeArt Poster Show. The event was organized by the City of Cincinnati Department of Transportation and local coffee shop Coffee Emporium. 

The thinking behind the event was to organize a bike month activity that everyone could participate in, whether they currently ride a bike or not. The city issued a Call to Artists for bicycle themed poster-art, and Coffee Emporium agreed to post a selection of the submitted posters on their walls for a month-long show during May (bike month). Poster artists were allowed to set the sale price for their posters, and Coffee Emporium offered to donate their 20% commission to Queen City Bike, the local advocacy organization that coordinates Bike Month for our region.  

All-in-all I think the show is already a success. About 130 people stopped by Coffee Emporium for the party last night, and we’ve already sold 15 posters! All of the posters will continue to hang on Coffee Emporium’s walls throughout May, and hopefully will help raise awareness about our burgeoning bicycle culture here in Cincinnati. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It May Be Cold Outside...

It may be cold outside, but the Cincinnati cycling community is busy, busy, busy.  I was thinking to myself the other day that I had nothing new to write about, yet I felt like so much work was going on behind the scenes. Then I realized that most folks probably have no idea how many months of preparation go into the activities and infrastructure that we’ll be enjoying this spring and summer. So, here are a few examples of projects that are in the works.

Mobo’s Winter Workshop Series
Okay, technically this is a winter project, but it stretches over the next two months so I’m including it because I think it qualifies as an “upcoming project.” Every winter our local bicycle cooperative, Mobo, hosts a Winter Workshop Series to help cyclists make it through the gloomy winter months. This year we’re holding 8 workshops, every Monday night in February and March: Urban Riding 101, Roadside Repair 101, Maintenance 101, Brakes, Shifters, Wheel Basics, Hubs & Bottom Brackets, and Headsets.

Awesome poster by Laura Collins

This year the first 3 events are all “101” workshops that will be group-led, and very casual. I’m hoping that by offering introductory-type workshops we might be able to reach some new cyclists. And I think the opportunity to get to know other cyclists and ask them questions in a small group setting will give folks a sense of community, which will make them more likely to stick around. The last 5 workshops will be taught by Mobo volunteers, or volunteer mechanics from Reser Bicycle Outfitters. These workshops are all free, open to the public, and intended to be empowering and to encourage the sharing of knowledge within the cycling community.

New Bike Center
Cincinnati has a new bike center opening on the riverfront this April. The center will have bikes for rent, and will offer showers, lockers, minor repairs, and bicycle storage for commuters. The center’s operator recently moved here from Chicago, and he has already started meeting with local bicycling groups to see how we can all work together to promote bicycling. We’re also starting to plan an event for the grand opening. The website is still under construction, but eventually you’ll be able to access info from here:

Bike Month
I really don’t think most people have any idea how much work goes into Bike Month. This year’s Chair, Cheryl, has already been working on it for a few months, drafting fundraising letters, schedules, and recruiting people to organize events. Speaking of which, if you’re interested in hosting/organizing an event, please let Queen City Bike know ASAP ( so that we can get you on the official calendar. Please DO NOT e-mail suggestions or ideas for events which you are not yourself willing to organize. We have plenty of ideas, just not plenty of man-power.

Something new I’m working on for Bike Month this year, is a bicycle-themed poster party/show. I saw something similar online (ArtCrank), and the basic idea is that we’ll issue a Call to Artists for bicycle-themed poster art, and then throw a little party at a local business where we’ll hang all the posters up (and offer them for sale). So much of what we do during Bike Month requires participants to actually ride a bicycle already, so I’m excited about the poster party because I think it’ll make Bike Month more accessible to more people, who may or may not already ride a bike. I’m also starting to nail down details for our first Bike Prom… If you live in Cincinnati you should go ahead and pencil Saturday May 26 into your calendar right now, and get yourself out to a thrift store to find some “prom” attire.

On-street Infrastructure
The city is hard at work this winter too. They’re currently combing through all of the streets scheduled for rehabilitation (repaving) in 2012, to determine if any of them might be candidates for changes in striping or parking, which would allow for the addition of bike lanes or sharrows. It’s a pretty painstaking process: The street segments are all mapped and measured. Then they evaluate the existing striping/parking. Is it currently meeting the needs of motorists, cyclists, and transit users? Is the street often congested, or is the street usually empty? If it’s mostly empty, does it still get congested during peak/rush hours? If there are peak-hour parking restrictions, are they still necessary? If 24-hour parking is allowed, is it usually full? If not, could we consolidate it on one side of the street, or not? Are there any development plans in the works adjacent to this street that might change the traffic patterns? Do many cyclists use this street currently? Would they if it had bike-specific infrastructure? Does the street connect to others in the network that already have bike-specific infrastructure?

The few streets that pass this first round of tests are then subjected to a community feedback process of some sort that typically includes contacting the community council to get their “official” stance on the project (this usually involves attending one of their meetings and asking them to vote on it), sending letters to or postcarding the residents along the street to get their feedback on proposed changes, and reaching out to the broader cycling community to get feedback via facebook, e-mail, or online forms.

Once the feedback is collected, then the project goes back to senior staff for a decision on whether or not to move forward. And the more diverse/controversial the feedback is, the longer the decision process can take. And if a street makes it through this last hurdle, then it still needs to have the official striping plan drawn up and bid out to contractors to do the work. So if you see any bike lanes being stalled this October, just know that we’ve been working on them since January.

Gest Street bike lanes

So, these are the few upcoming projects that I know about. What cycling activities are you working on now, to get ready for spring/summer?