CINCINNATI – Cyclists got a bonanza Wednesday when city council cleared the way for a new bicycle path along Central Parkway and approved $1.9 million to fund a bike rental program and four other bicycle trails in the city.
“This is a great day for Cincinnati and a great day for bicyclists,” Mayor John Cranley said. “We want Cincinnati to be the best city in America to live, work and raise a family. Projects like these will improve the quality of life for our residents and help our neighborhoods.”
It took a last-minute, compromise vote to settle a dispute over the Central Parkway bikeway.
Before approving a contract for the project, Cranley wanted council to resolve an objection from a business owner who didn't want to lose parking spaces in front of his building.
Although council had approved the project, Cranley asked the city administration to put a hold on awarding the contract until council could address the parking concern. The city had to meet a May 1 deadline for awarding the contract or lose $330,000 in regional government funds for the project.
Vice Mayor David Mann offered a motion to move the bike path adjacent to the sidewalk in front of Relocation Strategies, owned by Tim Haines, in order to preserve parking spaces on the street.
Mann accepted a compromise to save between 15 and 23 spaces.
The motion passed 5-4 Wednesday after council member Yvette Simpson said she changed her vote so the bike path wouldn't die. But Simpson said changing the plan to appease one businessman would set "a dangerous precedent."
The bike path will run from Elm Street downtown to Ludlow Avenue in Clifton.
Mann announced Wednesday that his office will work with the new partnership between Queen City Bike and Taking Root 2020 to plant two trees for every one uprooted by moving the bike path. About 15 trees will have to be removed.
Mann's compromise calls for widening the sidewalk for about 120 feet. That adds about $110,000 to the original $625,000 cost of the project.
Council also voted 7-2 to pass Cranley's Bike Share project, which will provide bike rentals in Downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Uptown near the University of Cincinnati.
People will be able to rent bicycles and return them to stations operated by Cincy Bike Share. There will be about 300 bicycles available at 35 stations.
The goal is to open in August.
About $1.1 million will go to Bike Share and $200,000 to each of four bike trails: Wasson Way, the Oasis Corridor, Mill Creek and the Ohio River Trail West. Most of the funding for the trails will help with design and planning.
The Oasis Corridor bike trail will run from Downtown to Lunken Airport, while the Wasson Way bike trail will run from Xavier University to the Little Miami Bike Trail in Newtown.
Also, the funding will support development of Phases 5 and 6 of the Mill Creek Greenway Trail, while the Ohio River Trail West would run from Lower Price Hill to the Gilday Riverside Playfield in its first phase.