CINCINNATI — The city's attempt to slow down traffic on one major city roadway seems to have worked, at least as far as residents are concerned.
The city's Department of Transportation and Engineering on Monday shared with members of the Northside Community Council results of an online survey, as a follow-up to a pilot program that tested the traffic impact of 24-hour on-street parking along Hamilton Avenue.
Out of more than 200 respondents who use the avenue at least once a week, nearly 80 percent said they saw an "increase" or "significant increase" in traffic safety.
More than 70 percent of respondents said they use Hamilton Avenue more than eight times a week. Of those heavy users, 81 percent noticed an increase or significant increase in traffic safety.
Eighty-four percent of respondents said their primary means of transportation on Hamilton was a car.
NCC Vice President Fred Neurohr said he wasn't surprised by the survey's results.
"You don’t have people flying by at 50 miles per hour in the curb lane," he said.
The city's survey also gauged residents' sense for how 24-hour parking impacted traffic congestion on Hamilton Avenue. Twenty percent of respondents said they noticed a "significant traffic increase" and "did not find it acceptable," while 46 percent noticed a "minimal traffic increase" that they found "acceptable." The remaining 34 percent said they noticed no change in traffic.
"The benefits outweigh the negatives here," Neurohr said.
Traffic crash data might back up residents' feelings that Hamilton Avenue is safer with all-day parking.
NCC member Mark Samaan, who also works on the committee's pedestrian safety task force, presented the council with traffic crash figures available through the city's online data portal. It showed that between May 1 and Sept. 30, crashes along Hamilton Avenue in the neighborhood's business district decreased this year by 39 percent from the same period in 2017 -- while parking was restricted during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
"This is a significant, significant reduction," said NCC Secretary Mati Senerchia. She also runs the council's pedestrian safety task force. "This is the definition of something working. This is a slam dunk. It's absolutely necessary to stick with what's working."
Last spring, the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering tested a change to existing parking rules on the busy U.S. route that cuts through the densely populated neighborhood's business district. During the morning and afternoon rush hours, the city prohibits parking along Hamilton Avenue in order to provide an additional lane for the thousands of commuters that take the road each day to and from work.
The monthslong test lifted the parking restriction, limiting travel to one lane only in each direction at all hours of the day.
Leading up to school starting in August, some Northside residents lobbied the city to continue the 24-hour parking test, in order to see how it might impact traffic while school was in session. The test was still underway into December.
"We still need things to happen," Neurohr said. "Lifting the restrictions was not a panacea."
Northside's community council launched its pedestrian safety task force in 2016, shortly following the death of Tickle Pickle owner Sarah Cole outside her business on Hamilton Avenue. The city also has installed pedestrian crossing paddles and additional lighting, and asked Cincinnati police to increase traffic enforcement in the area.
During Monday's meeting, the community council voted to formally request, in the form of a letter to the DOTE and City Council, that they make the 24-hour parking rule permanent.