Over 75 people turned out for a 3.6-mile bike ride along the Cincinnati Streetcar route held last week. Margy and Mel Ride Bikes, a community group of leisure bicyclers, organized the ridealong tour which started at Findlay Market. Social media and word-of-mouth attracted the large number of participants, who ranged from streetcar supporters to those who knew little about the route and were curious to see where it would go.
Led by Sarah Perrino, City of Cincinnati Transportation Designer, and Chris Eilerman, Streetcar Project Manager, the tour showcased an up-close look at the construction progress and discussed the milestones for completion. Cyclists rang their bells at each of the stops to indicate where the streetcar will pick up future passengers. Queen City Bike was also on hand to provide safety demonstrations on how to ride carefully during construction, and how to ride a bike on a street with rails in the ground. Traveling the entire loop took around 90 minutes.
Cincinnati’s streetcars will have room to hold six bicycles per vehicle, which can easily be wheeled on board with curb-level boarding. In contrast, a METRO bus only holds two bicycles per vehicle, which must be hoisted and secured on the exterior rack without any assistance from the bus driver. Children’s bikes are too small to fit in the rack, and bikes are not permitted inside the bus. If the rack is full, you must wait for another bus.
Departing from Findlay Market, bicyclers traveled north along Elm Street, passing the Maintenance and Operations Facility construction on Henry Street, then rode south on Race Street through Over-the-Rhine. Crossing Central Parkway, the route continues south into the Central Business District on Walnut Street, looping around at The Banks and back north on Main Street. Returning to Over-the-Rhine, the tour rode along 12th Street to Elm Street, then back to Findlay Market. Afterwards, the cyclists convened at Rhinegeist, a brewery that opened on the route this summer inside the historic Christian Moerlein Brewery.
Presentations included updates on expanding Ohio Amtrak service, and a program by John Schneider entitled “How Cincinnati Got Its Streetcars Back.” Schneider outlined the history and process of developing Cincinnati’s modern streetcars including overcoming two voter referendums and other hurdles that impeded construction. He also focused on the streetcar’s current progress, economic development, and the real estate boom of converting vacant office buildings Downtown into several hundred units of apartment and condominium housing.
With the recent laying of the first rails and last Friday’s first pour of concrete, conference attendees took a walking tour of the construction site. Led by Paul Grether, Manager Rail Services for METRO, the group learned about technical details of the build, as well as improvements to public utilities that are funded by the streetcar construction contract.
All Aboard Ohio, which is based in Cleveland, selected Cincinnati for a first-hand look at the streetcar and the development that occurred in Over-the-Rhine and in the Central Business District because of it. The organization believes the pro-rail movement in Cincinnati is essential for keeping young people, jobs, and hope in Ohio.
A family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness will take place this weekend at Washington Park in historic Over-the-Rhine. Cincinnati Maker Faire, inspired by the national Maker Faire by MAKE Magazine, will exhibit over 90 inventors and their trades, including a feature on the Cincinnati Streetcar.
“Coming Soon: The Road To Tomorrow!” will be the largest display of innovation at the faire. Manager Rail Services for METRO, Paul Grether, will be on hand answering questions about the streetcar project, and will showcase a built-to-scale model of a modern day streetcar. The booth, which will be located on the Elm Street side of the park, will also provide visitors with an up-close look at construction of the route. This week, Delta Railroad placed the first piece of steel track on Elm Street. Since then, a total of five sets of the 80-foot lengths of rail had been laid.
Part science fair, part county fair, Cincinnati Maker Faire is anticipated to be the greatest show (and tell) on Earth. The free event will take place this Saturday, October 19 and will run from 12pm to 10pm.
John Schneider, aka Captain Transit aka Mr. Streetcar, was back on the radio this morning. He was invited to join Brian Thomas on his regular morning show on 55 KRC.
The two discussed the first phase of the Cincinnati Streetcar project in detail, and also discussed the merits of rail transportation in general.
“The fundamental problem with Cincinnati, and the fundamental opportunity is we’ve lost population and we need to repopulate our city. We have a city that was built for 500,000 people, but we only have 300,000 people today,” Schneider explained to an agreeable Thomas. “But the snow still falls on Martin Luther King Boulevard and it has to be plowed, the grass still grows in Mt. Airy Forest and it has to be cut.”
Schneider went on to explain that investing in the Cincinnati Streetcar will help stabilize the city’s tax base and repopulate the city, in perhaps the greatest challenge and opportunity the Queen City has.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Thomas spent almost the entire interview using anecdotes and anti-city hysteria to support his points, but he did loudly profess how much of a bus fan he is. You can listen to the full interview on 55 KRC’s website, or stream it below. The interview lasts approximately 30 minutes.