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Mt. Lookout / Columbia-Tusculum : Development News

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Nourish Yourself offers healthy, home-cooked meals to busy clients

After a 15-year career with P&G, Cherylanne Skolnicki became a certified health coach and started teaching people how to eat better. In January 2011, she started Nourish Yourself, a service that will cook dinner for you.
 
“The concept of a home-cooked meal resonates with busy families,” Skolnicki says. “Clients want to feed their families fresh, healthy, unprocessed, seasonal food, but struggle with the time and skills to cook those meals. We take the guesswork and challenge out of it.”
 
Nourish’s core team has three employees who focus on everything from customer care to menu development to marketing. A team of nine cooking partners go into clients’ homes and make the magic happen, Skolnicki says.
 
Clients are matched with a Nourish cooking partner in their area—they shop for and prepare meals in your kitchen. Meals are prepared all at once, and Nourish even cleans up afterward.
 
Nourish offers flexible pricing that starts at $159 per week plus groceries, and you choose the service date. Nourish’s winter menu is available on its website, with 50 entrée choices, many of which are freezable, plus fresh salad greens and homemade dressing.
 
The menu changes seasonally, but favorites include healthy makeovers of restaurant dishes, such as chicken enchiladas, Thai basil chicken and buffalo chicken meatballs. Skolnicki says both Nourish’s risotto with asparagus and peas and bison burger with Cabernet caramelized onions and white cheddar are also popular.
 
“Busy is the new reality for today’s families,” Skolnicki says. “We hope to make dining in the new normal for busy, health-conscious households. And cooking is one of the aspects of a healthy lifestyle that you can now outsource and still get all of the benefits.”
 
Today, Nourish serves the Greater Cincinnati area and northwest Arkansas (because of P&G employees), but Skolnicki hopes to expand to other markets in 2014.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool focuses on neighborhoods' strengths

The Community Building Institute recently partnered with Xavier University and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati to develop and launch the Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool. It’s an online resource that allows all 52 Cincinnati neighborhoods to create a profile of community-based assets and resources in the area.
 
NAT was made available to the public this spring,and was in development for six to eight months before that. It’s free, and it promotes engagement and resource-sharing among residents. Residents can add assets to NAT, and they’re immediately available to other users.
 
“If you’re new to the community or thinking of moving to a neighborhood, you can find what’s going on there,” says Trina Jackson, program director of the Community Building Institute. “You can find community councils and neighborhood associations. Lots of people don’t know about grassroots organizations, and Nat allows residents to connect with one another through smaller organizations.”
 
The United Way helps support community development and community-based organizations, and NAT is the community engagement arm for Xavier, Jackson says. “We were focused on getting people connected with each other, and helping them see what’s out there.”
 
For example, in Evanston, many people know about the employment resource center. But if you’re not from the neighborhood, you don’t necessarily know it’s there, so you turn to the computer or your phone to find the things you need.
 
NAT focuses on a neighborhood’s strengths, and doesn’t include crime data or vacant property statistics. It's intened to be used by new and potential residents, entrepreneurs and developers as a tool to help find the best locations to live, work and play.
 
The Community Building Institute plans to host a series of “data entry parties” where people can get together and enter assets into NAT and learn new things about the neighborhood they live in. The first one is planned for Walnut Hills, but the date is to be determined.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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New online tool aims to keep Cincinnati residents engaged in their neighborhoods

On July 24, the City of Cincinnati adopted Nextdoor, a free, private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. The goal is to improve community engagement between the City and its residents, and foster neighbor-to-neighbor communications.
 
Each of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods will have its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, which is accessible only to residents of that neighborhood. City administrations and several city departments will also use Nextdoor to share important news, services, programs, free events and emergency notifications to residents, but they won’t be able to see who is registered to use the site or the conversations among residents.
 
Founded in 2010 in San Francisco, Nextdoor’s mission is to bring back a sense of community to the neighborhood. The site was tested in 175 neighborhoods across the country, and results showed that neighborhoods had some of the same issues, plus a variety of different issues.
 
“We all remember what our neighborhood experience was like as kids, when everyone knew each other, looked out for one another and stayed in the community longer," says Sarah Leary, co-founder of Nextdoor. “We want to invoke that nostalgia for neighborhoods.”
 
To date, Nextdoor is being used by about 17,000 neighborhoods across the country. In June, Nextdoor partnered with New York City and Mayor Bloomberg to communicate with the city’s 8.3 million residents. The site plans to roll out in other major cities like Cincinnati over the course of the next several months.
 
Nextdoor also recently released its iPhone app. “We’re really putting the lifeline of the neighborhood into the palm of the residents’ hands,” says Leary. “The common thread is an interest in using technology to make connections with neighbors. But it doesn’t stop there—once people have an easy way to communicate, they’re more likely to get together in the real world.”
 
You can sign up for Nextdoor on its website, or download the app in the App Store.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Local fitness instructors start workout group for moms

After Amber Fowler, 32, gave birth to twins in August, she started teaching group fitness classes at Body Boutique in Oakley. But she and Body Boutique’s owner, Candice Peters, 34, felt they weren’t servicing an important group in the community: moms and their young children.
 
Last week, Fowler and Peters started Fit Mommies, a fitness class for moms who need help getting back in shape after having a baby or who need help staying in shape, period. The class is unique in that it’s held in local parks, and is focused on moms working out with their children.
 
“We wanted a place for moms to bring their kids while they were working out,” Fowler says. “It’s like a playgroup atmosphere at the same time—moms don’t have to find a sitter, and their kids get to play with others in the fresh air.”
 
Besides a playgroup, Fit Mommies is also intent on building a community for moms. Fowler says it’s like a group therapy session and workout all in one. The women want their clients to be able to vent, get advice and get great ideas from others, all while working out.
 
“Fit Mommies is a place where moms can go to talk about things that they’re going through,” Fowler says. “It’s stressful for new moms; and it’s helpful to see other people going through the same things you are.”
 
Fowler and Peters also plan to offer Family Fit Days each month, where the whole family can come and work out for free. Fit Mommies will also host a Final Friday zoo workout—the workout is free, but you need a zoo pass.
 
The pair will also be sending out monthly newsletters and provide a resource list for clients that includes ideas from moms, family-friendly meal ideas and contact information for dentists, doctors, hairstylists, etc.
 
Fit Mommies offers power-walking and circuit training combination workouts for women who are at all different fitness levels. Classes run from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays in Hyde Park’s Ault and Alms parks, and Tuesdays and Thursdays in Loveland’s Nesbit and Paxton Ramsey parks. Classes are $59 per month for unlimited sessions; class passes are available.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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City Hall launches app as a community-organizing tool

The City of Cincinnati has taken out the back-and-forth that can occur when residents try to reach them to report issues in their neighborhoods. At the Neighborhood Summit on Feb. 16, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls announced that the Cincinnati City Hall mobile app is available to the public.
 
With the app, residents can look up trash, recycling and street sweeping days, and set reminders; locate and report problems by address; bookmark locations for quick reporting; and track the status of reports. City Hall mobile also has GPS, so users can report issues, even without an address. There’s even a searchable map with property owner information, which enables residents to see if a property is occupied or vacant.
 
A few years ago, residents had to use the Yellow Pages to look up the number for city departments to file complaints, says Kevin Wright, executive director of Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. The city then implemented a hotline for all complaints, but residents never knew the status of their reports.
 
“It’s amazing how comprehensive the app is,” Wright says. “If you see a broken window, pothole, graffiti, hanging gutter or anything else that is physically wrong with your neighborhood, street or community, you can report it in an instant. It’s a great tool for neighborhood redevelopment.”
 
The app can also be used as a community-organizing tool, Wright says. For example, if there is a property owner who historically hasn’t taken care of his or her property, social media can help organize a community and target the property to enforce codes until the property is fixed, which is what neighborhood councils and organizations like WHRF do.
 
“We’re really putting power in the hands of the citizens of the neighborhoods,” he says.
 
As with most tech programs, the app has room to grow, too. In the future, it could be linked with Facebook or Twitter, so your friends and followers will know who reported problems and where they are.
 
Cincinnati residents can download the app in the Apple App Store or download it through Google Play.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Big plans in the works for Cincinnati

As many areas of Cincinnati are being rejuvenated, including OTR and Washington Park, the City of Cincinnati approved a comprehensive approach to focus on development in the city as a whole, not just targeted neighborhoods. 

Last Friday, the City Planning Commission approved and adopted Plan Cincinnati, which was designed with input from residents. The Plan is an opportunity to strengthen what people love about the city, what works and what needs more attention, says Katherine Keough-Jurs, senior city planner and project manager.
 
The idea is to re-urbanize suburbanized Cincinnati; in a sense, to return to the strengths of the city's beginnings. Cincinnati was established just after the American Revolution in 1788 and grew into an industrial center in the 19th century. Many of those industries no longer exist in the city, which is part of why Cincinnati has become more suburbanized in the past 50 years. One of the long-term goals of the Plan is to bring new industries to Cincinnati.
 
With a new approach to revitalization, Cincinnati is blazing the trail for other cities. With a focus on building on existing strengths rather than tearing down structures and creating new ones, the Plan aims to capitalize on the city's “good bones” and good infrastructure.
 
Cinicinnatians had a huge role in developing the Plan. The first public meeting for the Plan was held in September 2009, when residents offered their insights into “what makes a great city?" and "what would make Cincinnati a great city?” A steering committee of 40 people representing businesses, nonprofits, community groups, local institutions, residents and City Council helped develop the Plan.

The Plan also got support from a grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which the City received in 2010. The grant allotted $2.4 million over three years to support the Land Development Code, which combines and simplifies Cincinnati's codes, reviews the development process, implements Form-based Codes and considers more creative uses for land. The grant allowed the city to start implementing some of the ideas voiced in public meetings.
 
Visionaries included youth, too. City staff worked with community centers and Cincinnati Public Schools to develop an art project for children. They were given clay pots and asked to paint their fears for the city on the inside and their dreams for the city on the outside. The children saw the big issue was quality of life, just like the adults did.
 
“It was an interesting way to get the kids involved and thinking about the future,” Keough-Jurs says.
 
The Plan aims to strengthen neighborhood centers—the neighborhoods’ business districts. It maps out areas that people need to get to on a daily basis and found that most are within about a half-mile of the business districts. But in some neighborhoods, residents can’t access their neighborhood centers. 

The accessibility of a neighborhood center is based on walkability—not just for pedestrians, but also about how structures address walking. For exampke, if a pedestrian can walk from one end of the neighborhood center to the other without breaking his or her pattern (the window shopping effect), the area is walkable; if he or she has been stopped by a parking lot or vacancies, it’s not walkable, Keough-Jurs says.
 
The neighborhood centers are classified in one of three ways in the Plan: maintain, evolve or transform. Some neighborhoods have goals to maintain levels of walkability, whereas others need to gradually change or evolve. Still others need to completely transform in order to strengthen their business districts.
 
“Cincinnati is at the heart of the region,” Keough-Jurs says. “If we strengthen Cincinnati, we strengthen a region.”

The next step for the Plan is to go before the Cincinnati City Council, specifically the Livable Communities Committee, which is chaired by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Wasson Way bike path advocates hope to transform rail spur

A group of residents from several Cincinnati neighborhoods spoke at the June 7 meeting of Cincinnati City Council's Quality of Life Subcommittee. Their subject? A recently closed railroad spur and a proposal to change it into a 6.5-mile cycling and walking path.

"This could really serve as an important connector for the many [multiuse path] projects Cincinnati has going on," said project advocate Jay Andress.

The proposed project would convert a Norfolk Southern Railroad spur into a path that would connect with the Little Miami bike trail in Newtown and run into the heart of downtown. Advocates at Tuesday's meeting pointed out that the path would only cross seven roads in its entire length, making it a true rarity: a nearly uninterrupted trail running through several neighborhoods in a major urban area.

But beyond the health benefits and transportation options that the path could provide, some residents at the meeting brought up another point: building the path could resolve a growing problem with the semi-abandoned line.

Hyde Park Neighborhood Council President Anne Gerwin said the point where the line crosses Wasson Road has been a maintenance and safety issue for years. "We struggle many times each year to have the city and railroad maintain it," she said. The neighborhood's council passed a resolution supporting the project.

Likewise, Hyde Park resident Lindsay Felder, who said her home is within sight of the track, said there's been a visible deterioration of it - and an uptick in people loitering along the weedy path - since it became inactive in 2009.

"We've always wondered about the tracks," she said, explaining that she began going door to door to drum up local support after meeting Andress and learning about the proposed project.

"We see it as a great upcycling of existing property that is underutilized," she said.

Subcommittee chair Laure Quinlivan said there are a number of details to clarify before the project moves further forward, such as determining if Norfolk Southern has future plans for the line, and if an arrangement can be made that would allow the city to adapt the path into light rail if that becomes a future transit option.

"This is really a great proposal," she said. "The best ideas don't always come out of City Hall. If we could make this happen, it would be such a great asset to so many residents."

Story: Matt Cunningham
Photo: Wasson Way Project

Hyde Park parents work to bring neighborhood school back

An effort to reopen Hyde Park Elementary is underway by a small group of energized and concerned neighborhood parents. The school was closed in 2005 due to a decline in enrollment and has since been used as temporary location for Kilgore and Mt. Washington schools as they renovated their buildings.

Since the absence of a public elementary school in Hyde Park, the community has seen a loss in young families seeking an affordable public education. The Parents for Hyde Park School now want to make a difference as they try to convince Cincinnati Public Schools that reopening Hyde Park Elementary would benefit greatly both the school system and community.

"On the whole, this is a win-win situation for all parties involved. The community wins as it attracts more young families to the area. The current and new residents benefit by having access to an elementary school for their children, and CPS benefits by having an excellent rated school in their portfolio," Tom Rowe explained. Rowe is an active parent in the fight for this cause. "If everyone gets on the same side of the table to work on solutions, we think we can get this thing accomplished. We are extending our hands to work with CPS to resolve these issues."

Hyde Park students currently attend Kilgore in Mt. Lookout, which is supposed to house 450 students. Currently, the school houses 629 students, almost 200 students over capacity. Another solution included sending children to Parker Elementary, a school currently on academic watch.

"We think that a quality public school option is critical for the vibrancy of any community. We want to increase the sense of community within three neighborhoods including Hyde Park, Oakley, and East Walnut Hills by having a better public school system," Rowe said. "The school serves the community in general as it serves as a foundation and meeting place for members of the community to interact."

Although efforts have been ongoing for three years, the recent involvement of concerned parents has gotten the attention of CPS. The Parents for Hyde Park School claim reopening the school would help save CPS money in the long run and provide a necessity for a vibrant community.

"Our goal is to have CPS reopen Hyde Park School as East Side Elementary providing top notch elementary education to the children of Oakley, East Walnut Hills, and Hyde Park," Row said.

Writer: Lisa Ensminger

Neighborhood business districts get big boost from city, CNBDU

Three business districts of Cincinnati neighborhoods, Mt. Lookout, Mt. Adams, and Northside, will be undergoing redevelopment construction with help from the City. Councilmember Laure Quinlivan worked for $800,000 of unused capital funds for "shovel-ready projects" in these three neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods compete each year through a peer-ranking process run by Cincinnati Neighborhood Business Districts United (CNBDU), which distribute $2 million in city funding to neighborhoods seeking business district redevelopment. But this year, Quinlivan assisted more neighborhoods gain money faster by finding funds for the three additional projects.

"This additional funding opens three more slots for next year's funding because we cleared three more off the competitive list," Quinlivan said. "Other neighborhoods now have a better chance for complete renovation at a faster pace."

In addition to adding more slots for renovations, the additional funding also speeds up the process of construction. Mt. Lookout had already obtained funds for renovation of Mt. Lookout Square, a project that was scheduled to be completed within three years. Now the additional money will allow the neighborhood to complete the project this summer.

Each neighborhood has a unique plan to improve the appearance and quality of their business districts. The Mt. Adams Business Guild, for example, will improve streetscape infrastructure by fixing damaged sidewalks and adding more trees and lighting.

"I think it will improve the appearance and safety of the neighborhood," Missy Fox, a Mt. Adams representative in CNBDU, said. "It will definitely help attract patrons to the neighborhood businesses and I am very excited for the neighborhood to add to the positive improvements that happened already."

The Northside Business Association plans to buy and stabilize the vacant Landman Building, which will later be rehabbed into a mixed-use commercial & residential development that should help anchor Northside's rejuvenated South Block. This will help the overall appearance, eliminating an eyesore at the core of the business district.

"This program works and we should be funding our best practices as much as we can," Quinlivan said. "It is all about helping the neighborhoods and giving money back to the city."

Writer: Lisa Ensminger
Photography provided.

Cincinnati to begin Phase 1 of Mt. Lookout Square enhancements

The City of Cincinnati will begin work on the first phase of enhancements to Mt. Lookout Square on Monday, June 7.  Construction, expected to last throughout the summer with an anticipated completion date in October 2010, will create approximately 11 jobs.  The completed project will eventually total around $1.2 million of investment

Crews from R A Miller Construction will execute the $664,574 first phase of the project that includes the installation of new curbs, sidewalks, brick pavers, streetlights and tree replacement on the southern half of Mt. Lookout Square.  Project officials state that the traffic signal at the south intersection of Linwood and Delta will be rebuilt along with the mid-block crosswalk at the parking island.  New electrical outlets will also be installed in the parking island that will now make future street festivals or holiday lighting possible.

"The difficult part of this project is maintaining pedestrian access to the wide variety of shops there," explained Dave Krusling, PE with Cincinnati's Department of Transportation & Engineering.

Krusling went on to say that access will be maintained though thanks to R A Miller's experience in these types of projects including recent streetscaping work along Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine, Woodburn Avenue in East Walnut Hill, and Colerain Avenue in Camp Washington.

Last August, the Mt. Lookout Community Development Corporation (MLCDC) announced their plans for the neighborhood business district that they had felt become "somewhat worn" over the years and needed attention.

The two-phased approach the MLCDC outlined focuses on improving the square's appearance while also improving vehicle flow and parking.  Included in the proposed changes designed by Vivian Llambi & Associates was the removal of parking from the center of Mt. Lookout Square in favor of a site design similar to what is found at nearby Hyde Park Square.

Construction work on this first-phase of enhancements will make driving conditions more difficult through the area, so project officials request that motorists use alternative routes if possible.  The second phase of work will be dependent on the availability of funding, and is expected to have a similar price tag.

The removal of parking on Mt. Lookout Square will be contingent upon the availability of replacement parking nearby, and is not included in the price tag or time table for the two-phased Mt. Lookout Square enhancement project.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Tiffani Fisher
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy

Trendy Mt. Lookout Square may soon get facelift

The Mt. Lookout Community Development Corporation (MLCDC) is looking to transform the trendy Mt. Lookout Square on Cincinnati’s east side with more than $800,000 worth of renovation efforts.  The efforts are being driven by community activists who feel the neighborhood’s business district has become somewhat worn over the years and is in need of attention.

The group has developed a multi-phased approach to cleaning and rejuvenating Mt. Lookout Square that highlight three primary priorities: Square Appearance, Vehicle Flow and Parking.

The neighborhood priorities are detailed into the following high-level objectives:
  • Enhance the appeal of the square to residents, visitors and businesses by addressing many of the dilapidated walkways, parking structures/enclosures, signage and lighting.
  • Incorporate more green-space into the currently very “car centric” appearance of the square.
  • Address many of the pedestrian and traffic safety concerns expressed by businesses and the community at large.
  • Improve the aesthetics of business frontage and provide more business-friendly pedestrian access to window shopping and open air dining.
  • Grow and sustain a diverse business environment.
  • Improve the aesthetics and reliability of public utilities.
  • Address constraints to hosting public Square festivities.
  • Implement a comprehensive parking solution that will allow us to more effectively utilize the center island as green-space.

Parking remains one of the most difficult issues to address. Plans call for off-street parking that would replace the parking currently located in the middle of the square.  That space would then become an inviting public space with a fountain, seating areas and trees very similar to what is seen in Hyde Park Square.

Vivian Llambi & Associates, the same company that developed the plans for the Hyde Park Square renovation, is also the same firm that has developed the plans for the Mt. Lookout Square renovation project.  Vivian Llambi & Associates is also responsible for the work at Fountain Square, Government Square and the Aronoff Center for the Arts.

In addition to off-street parking and a restored public center piece, the renovation efforts also hope to include wider sidewalks to enable more sidewalk dining and street cafes, minimization of overhead power lines, new streetscaping and traffic calming measures like curb bump-outs.

Mt. Lookout Square has long been criticized for being difficult to navigate for motorists, somewhat dangerous for pedestrians and lacking necessary parking for the various merchants on and around the square.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Amber Kersley

Hillside Trust building at Alms Park now powered with geothermal

The Cincinnati Park Board has installed a geothermal system at a building within Alms Park with plans for two additional installations including the new Cincinnati Riverfront Park.

The total project cost $22,000 with an anticipated payback period of about 20 years.  The Hillside Trust occupies the building and director Eric Russo says that the new system provides enough power to satisfy all of their heating and cooling needs.

The system is one of the first of its kind in the region and is another sign of the Park Board’s push to be environmentally conscience with their impact within nature.  The Hillside Trust has also been working on several green initiatives that include new light wells within the building, and a hillside reclamation project behind the structure that cleared out all invasive species and reintroduced native plant life that also supports the hillside.

The work on the geothermal project took a total of five days which included the trenching work, laying of lines, installation of the water furnace and the installation of a new vent system as the building was previously heated by a radiator and had no air cooling mechanism.

Russo states that the work done by Cincinnati-based Bill Spade Electric, Heating & Cooling was not that invasive as they were able to use what is considered a ‘lateral system.’  In this system crews dug a five foot trench for a linear distance of about 600 feet.  Once dug, some 3,000 feet of plastic flexible piping was laid which carries a mixture of water (85%) and alcohol (15%) to prevent potential freezing.

The Geothermal project at Alms Park will allow the Parks to better manage their utility resources according to the Park Board, and is part of Cincinnati’s Climate Protection Action Plan.  In addition to this, the Park Board will also be implementing new rain gardens, conducting energy audits and continue their reforestation efforts that net an average of 2,000 new trees per year within the City of Cincinnati.  Park Board officials state that all of these initiatives make Cincinnati a more livable city for all of its residents.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Images Provided

May means it's bike month in Cincinnati

As Cincinnati strives to become a more bike friendly city, the local bike community continues to grow and become more active.  Recent victories include the announcement of dedicated bike lanes on Spring Grove Avenue when it is repaved in the near future, the start of a new “sharrow” pilot program that will study a variety of bike corridors throughout the city to determine which ones are best suited for “sharrows” and an update to the City’s Bike Plan is currently underway.

The dedicated bike lane along Spring Grove Avenue will further connect the neighborhoods of Downtown and Northside, and will allow bicyclists to safely and quickly travel through the Mill Creek Valley on their way to or from the center city.

“Sharrows” are marked lanes that are used to indicate to motorists that bicyclists do indeed share the road and help provide a safer environment for bicyclists to navigate congested city streets.  These sharrows are used throughout much of the United States, but have yet to be embraced in Ohio, which has recently been ranked as the 32nd best state for bicyclists.

The hopes are that these new initiatives will illustrate support for bicyclists and encourage higher rates of bicycling in the Cincinnati region. But even with these new initiatives, many hurdles still exist for Cincinnati bicyclists.  Support facilities like lockers and showers are virtually non-existent, many bicyclists still do not ride on the streets with vehicular traffic and ample riding and parking space continue to be issues faced by bicyclists.

Sherman Cahal is the owner of the local bicycling forum known as Cincy Rides and regularly participates in the grass-roots rides known as Critical Mass – both of which are meant to engage the local bicycling community and keep communication open for their efforts.  Cahal has attempted to further network the local bicycling community in a way that will hopefully create new and innovative solutions to many of the problems still faced in Cincinnati with regards to bicycling.

May is also National Bike Month, making it the perfect time to celebrate bicycling and bring awareness to its causes in the Cincinnati-area. This year’s Bike Month includes a variety of events and activities geared towards getting Cincinnati-area bicyclists out on the streets and being visible.  One such activity is Deals on Wheels where dozens of local businesses are offering discounts and special deals for those who bicycle to their businesses.

This coming Thursday marks the Cincinnati Bike to Work Day where cyclists are strongly encouraged to get out and bicycle to work.  The efforts of getting people to bicycle to work are largely centered on support facilities like lockers and showers that are currently not found in Cincinnati.

To get involved with Bike Month activities in Cincinnati, you can visit Queen City Bike for regular updates on events, activities and specials.  This involvement is important as the local bicycling community moves forward and spreads the word about their beloved means of transportation.

“The bicycle is perhaps the cleanest mode of transport for any measurable distance, and nothing remains as pure or as spirited as the natural elegance of a bike ride,” says Cahal.

Writer: Randy Simes
Source: Sherman Cahal, owner, Cincy Rides

Issue 9 debate engages local businesses one month before the November vote

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful's biggest event of the year takes place on April 25 with a kickoff in College Hill, and the organization could use your help.

Great American Cleanup, the nation's largest community improvement project with an estimated 2.8 million volunteers, is aimed at boosting the quality of life in neighborhoods by planting flowers and trees, picking up litter, collecting discarded tires, painting façades, landscaping, and recycling

Because of the massive amount of work to be done, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful program manager Josman Rodriguez says that volunteers are very much needed.

Just last year, 8,352 volunteers collected 406,460 pounds of litter and debris; planted 13,500 flowers and bulbs; cleaned 578 miles or roads, streets and highways; and recycled more than 40,000 plastic bottles and more than 2,500 scrap tires.

"We're expecting 10,000 volunteers beautifying 90 communities, 25 parks, and 30 schools," Rodriguez says.

He also says that Give Back Cincinnati, community leaders, and Cincinnati council members plan to participate, and that United Dairy Farmers is serving as a co-sponsor.

To volunteer, contact Liz Bowater at (513) 352-4380 or at liz.bowater@cincinnati-oh.gov.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Source: Josman Rodriguez, project manager/public awareness, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful

Qualls pushes council to make streets 'for people, not just cars'

Cincinnati City Councilmember and chair of the Vibrant Neighborhoods Committee, Roxanne Qualls introduced a resolution supporting the federal Complete Streets Act of 2009, a piece of legislation meant to encourage streets that are safe for all forms of human transportation.

Sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and introduced earlier this month, the legislation promotes the design of streets that are safe for motorists, bus and transit riders, pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with disabilities by directing state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations to adopt and implement complete streets policies for federally-funded transportation projects.

It would also update the current federal code on pedestrian and bicycle accommodation and authorize research, data collection, technical assistance and dissemination of best practices.

Qualls' resolution is currently in council's Economic Development Committee, which next meets on April 7.

"We actually put funds in the biennial budget to develop a complete streets program," Qualls says.  "So the city has already recognized the need to design streets for people, not just cars.  Ultimately, the goal is to make our streets multi-modal."

According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, more than 5,000 annual fatalities and 70,000 injuries occur to pedestrians and bicyclists because of inadequate sidewalks and crosswalks, space for bicyclists, and room for transit riders.

Locally, the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering has been working with the Mount Washington Community Council to retrofit a portion of Beechmont Avenue that has seen an increase in speeding and accidents since a road widening project in 2004.

Residents of Westwood have also requested traffic calming measures for a mostly residential – but busy – section of Montana Avenue.

"Our competitive advantage is in our neighborhoods, and our quality of life is dependent on our streets," Qualls says.  "If we look at our streets as our largest public spaces, then the quality of those spaces is critical to economic development."

Qualls says that complete streets is one of many strategies that cities are using to become more walkable and mixed-use, pointing out that more than 80 state and local governments already have passed complete streets policies.

"It's a matter of changing how we think about streets," Qualls says.  "What we recognize is that if you design streets for cars, you get cars.  If you design streets for people and alternative modes of transportation, that's what you'll get."

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Sources: Roxanne Qualls, Cincinnati City Council; Jennifer O'Donnell, assistant to Councilmember Qualls
37 Mt. Lookout / Columbia-Tusculum Articles | Page: | Show All
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