CINCINNATI – Several Cincinnati city council members said Wednesday they felt blindsided by Mayor John Cranley’s move to freeze an approved bike path project that would run along Central Parkway, connecting several city neighborhoods.
"Why isn't the contract being signed today?" Councilman Chris Seelbach asked numerous times during Wednesday's city council meeting. "There's no reason this should be held up or prolonged."
Citing concerns from business owners and commuters, Cranley halted the project, just before the deadline expires to award a contract to begin building its first phase. Vice Mayor David Mann has proposed a compromise to relocate the path, as a way to appease business owners.
Business owners in the area said the project would limit parking spots, therefore harming business. But Mann's proposal would save those parking spots by extending the sidewalk by 120 feet.
The council will hear other compromise solutions during a special hearing set for 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Council has until May 1 to decide the future of the bikeway project or risk losing $500,000 in funding for the project.
In November, Council approved the path that calls for five miles of protected, bike-friendly roadways that connect Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, the West End, Northside and Clifton. The first phase of the work was slated to begin this spring.
But now it is stalled.
And Seelbach doesn’t hold out much hope:
"The bike lanes are headed for a timely death in the next 10 days," he said.
Scott Stiles, interim city manager, said the city plans to sign the ageement.
“It's the path we're going down until otherwise advised," he said, adding the city "has no intention of waiting until the last minute."
Councilman Kevin Flynn said he has concerns as well – including traffic flow and how bus stops will function in bike lanes.
"My concerns are much broader than parking in front of a few businesses on Central," he said.
Despite Cranley's red light on the project, he can't put a complete stop to the project, according to Kevin Osborne, director of communications for the mayor.
Osborne previously said: "The bike project is approved by council. The only way it won’t happen is if a majority of council decides to do something differently."