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Central Parkway bikeway plan angers some

CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) -- The city of Cincinnati is weeks away from dramatically changing the look and use of Central Parkway.

The plan will add a designated bike lane inbound and outbound from the city and force car traffic down to a single lane in both directions.  The plan is called the Central Parkway Bikeway.

There will be two lanes of traffic going both directions between Plum Street and Liberty Street. Between Liberty and Brighton Place, there will be one lane of traffic in both directions outside of peak-hours, but during peak-hours parking will be restricted so that there are two lanes of traffic in each direction that travel is the heaviest. North of Brighton Place there will be two lanes northbound between 3pm and 6pm.

On both sides it will change the parking lane into a bike lane, make the next lane out a parking lane and leave just one lane for traffic in both directions.  While bike lanes are popular not everyone thinks this idea is a good one.

Central Parkway is a popular and busy route into and out of downtown Cincinnati.  But soon this roadway will also be a "bike way" from downtown to Ludlow.  Mel McVay is the senior planner for the Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Planning.

She told us, "This is something people ask for that we hear over and over again.  I visit these other cities, they have these protected lanes, why doesn't Cincinnati have protected lanes?  I want to be able to commute to work from Northside or Clifton.  I want to be able to ride with my family down to Finlay Market and I don't feel safe."

3 foot high plastic paddles will divide the bike lanes from the others.  A business owner here for 40 years and also a bicycle enthusiast, Bill Johnson, says parts of this plan don't make any sense.

"I think painting lines on the street is a good idea.  A bike lane would be a nice improvement here.  The paddles are just going to create a big hazard for the businesses, cars, everybody," he said.

City officials say the lanes will be wide enough so snow plows can still get down the bike lane and they say engineers believe the constriction won't be a problem for four wheeled traffic.

Property owner John Walter says, "I think the bigger issue is really from a city wide standpoint major ingress and egress to downtown and Over-The-Rhine.  As Over-The-Rhine develops there's gonna be more and more people needing to get in and out."

Business owners point to a new bike lane just a block away on Bank Street, that virtually no one uses, and say Central Avenue runs parallel to the Parkway and doesn't have near the traffic.  Which would make it a better choice.

Mel McVay says, "It's the most family friendly bicycle infrastructure being done in the U.S. Sort of the new best practice and Cincinnati's just sort of catching up with everyone else."

City officials just started opening bids on this job Friday, and it's not just Central Parkway that's getting bike friendly.  The big picture plan calls for over 400 miles of bike lanes and paths all over the city before the entire project is finished.

The Over-The-Rhine community council will hear a presentation on the Central Parkway plan Monday evening at 6.  That meeting's being held at Rothenberg School.

Follow Rich Jaffe on Twitter @rajaffe and LIKE him on Facebook





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