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?