CINCINNATI — A protected bike lane stretching alongside the University of Cincinnati's western edge will remain in place, but its future remained uncertain this week as leaders considered residents' requests and administrators' recommendations.
The city installed the two-way bike lane — the first of its kind in the city — earlier this year on a temporary basis, to test its value for nearby residents and commuters as well as its impact on Clifton Avenue traffic. When the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering said it was time for the lanes to come down, the announcement sparked backlash on social media.
"I've seen entire families riding bicycles together," said UC professor David Freeze, who's been teaching at the university for more than 20 years. "This is something that you wouldn't have normally seen in the city of Cincinnati."
The idea emerged from the neighborhood's community council, Clifton Town Meeting, which reached out to local active transportation advocates at Tri-State Trails.
"If we don't give people that option to ride their bike or to feel safe riding their bike, people aren't going to do it," said Tri-State Trails executive director Wade Johnston.
Matt Butler, with the Northern Kentucky-based Devou Good Foundation — which helped finance the project — said speed data indicate the bike lane encouraged drivers on the mile-long straightaway to slow down.
"The data that we're collecting is showing that it's effective in slowing the speeders down, but everybody else that wants to get through is able to do so," Butler told WCPO, adding that the data his foundation has collected show the number of drivers traveling more than 5 mph above the speed limit dropped by roughly 40%.
When Butler tweeted that the lanes would be going away, that's when he said neighbors began speaking up.
Last chance to ride the Clifton Ave protected two way bike lane. Despite gaining 75% support and making the road safer for all users, it will be removed next week. pic.twitter.com/6cPMMSCI07
— Matt Butler (@Matt_C_Butler) August 27, 2021
Freeze agreed that the area seems safer not just for people biking, but for people walking, too.
"If we save one life, it was worth it," he said. "I hope that there are more."
In a motion filed Monday, City Council members Chris Seelbach and Liz Keating called on the administration to leave the bike lane in place while engineers study the bike lanes' benefits and drawbacks in more depth. The council will vote on that motion Wednesday.