Green Umbrella in the News

  • July 27, 2020 11:10 AM | Anonymous

    Source: Cincy Lifestyle

    "Home Grown" with Cincinnati Magazine

    How much do you know about our food system here in Cincinnati, Ohio? Well, Cincinnati Magazine decided to dedicate its August issue to highlighting farms and restaurants in our area!

  • July 18, 2020 8:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Ken Brown & Maggy Mcdonel
    Source: Fox19

    CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Ground was broken Saturday on the next phase of The Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network (CROWN) project.

    The goal of the CROWN project is to create a 34-mile urban trail that loops around Cincinnati, according to the Director of Tri-State Trails Wade Johnston.

    This new path will be doubling the trail, it will extend from Montgomery Road by Xavier to Marburg Avenue, says Johnston.

    “Every little piece of this trail is a huge milestone, Johnston said. “So, right now we’re going to be doubling the length of the trail. It will go from Montgomery Road, over by Xavier, to Marburg Avenue. It will touch more neighborhoods, more streets for people to get on the trail, and make it more accessible for people to ride it.”

    The latest round of construction takes the trail into Evanston and Avondale, uniting it with Hyde Park, Norwood, and Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley said.

    “Uniting Evanston, Avondale, Hyde Park Norwood, and Cincinnati,” said Mayor Cranley. “It’s just a wonderful project and now we’re going to be heading towards Ault Park and in a couple years we’ll connect to the Loveland Bike Trail and it’s all going to be interconnected, a run and bike and hike trail.”

    The $6 million in funding the city secured last year is going to help push the project to those great lengths Mayor Cranley mentioned.

  • July 16, 2020 2:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Press Release

    For Immediate Release

    For more information contact:                                                                                 

    Rashida Manuel,, 513.541.3410

    Director of Public Engagement, Green Umbrella

    Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council and partners awarded $100,000 Aetna Foundation grant to advance health equity in Cincinnati

    Cincinnati, OH — The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council (GCRFPC) and The Health Collaborative have been selected as grantees for the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, a program funded by the Aetna Foundation, in partnership with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo). This funding will serve in developing a coordinated system to improve food access, affordability and education in the region by convening food access advocates, nutrition educators, healthcare partners and community voices.

    “Access to health care and healthy food, as well as other social determinants of health, can significantly impact rates of chronic disease and other health outcomes, with average life spans varying by up to 20-30 years in communities that are just a few miles apart,” said Eileen Howard Boone, President of the Aetna Foundation. “We are proud to partner with APHA and NACo to support the work of Green Umbrella to drive change and address these social determinants of health – work that is now more important than ever, given the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Green Umbrella’s GCRFPC is leading one of the 20 teams chosen to participate in the Challenge. The team will receive $100,000 to take action to change the food access systems in Cincinnati and engage community residents as leaders in their work. 

    “Making progress on deeply rooted problems takes collaboration, creativity and a willingness to try a new approach,” says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, Executive Director of Green Umbrella. “We appreciate the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge’s recognition that Cincinnati is ready to take the plunge into this ambitious work.”

    In addition to the funding, GCRFPC and their partners will participate in one-on-one technical assistance provided by APHA and a supportive peer-learning network led by Healthy Places by Design over the course of the two years.

    The project team that will lead the initiative in Cincinnati, OH includes:

    • Gen-H, an initiative of The Health Collaborative

    • Produce Perks Midwest

    • Freestore Foodbank

    • OSU’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program

    “Gen-H is proud to partner with Green Umbrella to develop a coordinated solution to food access, affordability and education,” says Kiana R. Trabue, Executive Director of Population Health Strategies at The Health Collaborative. “Food insecurity has been identified as the top need for Cincinnati patients screened on health-related social needs.  When we learned of the opportunity to partner and apply for this funding it was a great way for us to take the data we’ve been collecting and move it into action.”

    The team will take steps to advance health equity in Cincinnati where approximately 3 in 10 adults are food insecure, 46% of the population live in areas with limited access to supermarkets with healthy and nutritious food, and 72% of those with limited supermarket access live in low-income neighborhoods. Proposed strategies for the project include engaging community members to identify gaps that impact food access, creation of a community advisory board and development of a strategic plan to support partner organizations in their work to improve policies and practices.

    “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving health equity,” APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD explains. “Successful, lasting change comes from cross-sector partnerships and engaging affected individuals and communities, which is why this challenge is so powerful. Together, communities in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge will be able to achieve enduring transformations to public health.”

    The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge will award a total of $2 million to teams of organizations that will work together to change the food access and health care systems in their communities and engage community residents as leaders in their work.

    An expert review panel selected the team following a rigorous review process which looked at a variety of factors including: level of innovation of their proposed approaches, intended impacts on systems and policy change and alignment of diverse partners around common priorities. Check out the full list of grantee organizations and their community partners.

    The Aetna Foundation, which first launched the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge in partnership with APHA and NACo in 2016, is an independent, charitable and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health.


    The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council is an initiative of Green Umbrella. It facilitates collaboration to create systemic solutions for healthy, equitable, sustainable food access. Learn more at

  • June 27, 2020 3:58 PM | Anonymous

    Source: WKSU

    By: Shaquiena Davis

    Solar array

    Director Elizabeth Rojas from Cincinnati's sustainability initiative, 2030 District, says the city is on track to build the largest municipal solar farm in the nation.


    Clean energy advocates say the industry in Ohio has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. An analysis of Labor Department data by the group Environmental Entrepreneurs or E2 finds more than 20,000 Ohioans who worked in the clean energy industry have filed for unemployment since March.

    That’s almost 20% of the more than 114,000 employed in the industry at the end of last year.

    Micaela Preskill is from E2. She says the industry needs policymakers' support to get back on track.

    “We can do this. We can put Midwesterners back on the job today. We can build a cleaner economy going forward. We need to see leadership in Washington, D.C. and in our state capitols right away.”   

    Preskill points out more than half of Ohio’s clean energy workers are employed by companies with fewer than 20 workers. She and other clean energy advocates are asking state leaders for policies that can help these small businesses.

    “History has shown us that clean energy investments and stimulus have a track record of creating jobs and building our economy," Preskill said. She says this will aid an economic recovery. "Hundreds of thousands of electricians, construction workers, technicians and factory workers work in clean energy in every corner of our region and the industry has grown year after year,” she said. 

    Advocates are also seeking support from any future Congressional economic stimulus package. 

  • June 25, 2020 3:24 PM | Anonymous

    Source: WXVU

    By: Ann Thompson

    The Melink Corporation in Milford has made it a priority to have charging stations for its employees.

    Ohio and other states are in the process of determining how to dole out a $15 billion settlement from Volkswagen after allegations in 2016 it cheated on emissions. The Ohio EPA says some of the money will be available this summer to use for electric vans, buses and even tractor-trailers. The money can also fund charging stations.

    In "Charge Forward: Electrify the Future with Electric Vehicle Charging Stations," Cincinnati 2030 District, an initiative of Green Umbrella, covered the basics as to why businesses and municipalities need to amp up.

    On the Green Umbrella Zoom call June 23, Clean Fuels Ohio's Andrew Conley says there is money available from the state from VW and applications are due this summer. He said there are different categories including vehicles, which include EV vans, panel trucks and semis. Grants are also available for electric school buses and charging stations.

    With charging stations, "It must be public accessible charging and the plan that the EPA published states that they will give a priority for funding locations on Ohio corridors." Conley says the state is still deciding what those corridors will be.

    EVunited's Abby Roen suggests businesses and municipalities should start planning now for extra charging stations if they haven't already. Among the considerations is the voltage required. "Is there extra space in your current panel? How much? Is there enough for the project you have now, or should you be planning for this project or Phase 2?" she asks.


    Considerations For Building Charging Stations

    • Need for speed (voltage required)
    • Who will pay for the electricity
    • How long do you need to charge
    • Number of spots needed

    Roen suggests planning five to 10 years in the future.

    In many cases the future is now. Here are some of the latest developments. Mercedes has a drone vanVolvo plans to have an electric motor in every car by 2020. GM has plans for 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023. Ford is adding 13 all-electric models and Amazon has announced an order of 100,000 custom vehicles from Revian.

  • June 18, 2020 9:42 PM | Anonymous

    Source: CityBeat

    By: Seth Robinson

    Summer Guide Bike Trail Downtown Loveland Savana Willhoite29

    From March 16 to April 6 of this year, local bike trail use was up 30 percent compared to last year — some trails even tripled their traffic, according to Tri-State Trails, which “connects people and places via a regional trail and bikeway network” — as people started using their quarantine time to get outdoors and exercise. 

    “Trails and bikeways are one of the few places that remained open during the stay at home order, and have proven to be an essential amenity for our community during this crisis,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella. 

    And that trend has continued, with media outlets like CNN and The Guardian calling bicycles the “new toilet paper,” as demand has them flying off store shelves.

    With more than 570 miles of trails, we asked Tri-State Trails’ Johnston his picks for the six best trails people should bike this summer — especially with social distancing in mind. Here’s what he said. Learn more at

    Little Miami Scenic Trail 

    “One of the most popular — and busiest — trails in the region. It traverses 78 miles from Cincinnati to Springfield, Ohio. It’s the southern leg of the 326-mile Ohio to Erie Trail, and Great Parks of Hamilton County is about to start construction on a bridge that will connect to Lunken Airport. The rural sections are definitely less busy if you are trying to social distance. From Loveland south it’s always packed on a nice day. There’s an 8-mile spur into Lebanon called the Countryside YMCA trail.”

    Ohio River Trail 

    “There’s about 3 miles downtown in the Cincinnati riverfront parks, and another 4 miles around Lunken; these sections are connected by bike lanes along Riverside Drive. The section at Schmidt Field is right along the river and extra wide for physical distancing. Cincinnati is currently building a connection from Salem Road out to Sutton Road to connect Lunken Airport to Coney Island. You can also explore the Kentucky side of the Ohio River on the Riverfront Commons trail. There’s about 2 miles through Covington and Newport — also known as the Riverwalk — as well as shorter segments in Dayton and Ludlow. The Dearborn Trail also follows the Ohio River for about 6 miles from Lawrenceburg to Aurora, Indiana.” 

    Wasson Way 

    “This is the region’s newest rail-trail. Right now there’s about 1.5 miles between Madison Road and Montgomery Road. Tri-State Trails helped secure $6 million last year to extend the trail west to Avondale and east through Ault Park to the Murray Trail. Through our #CROWNcincinnati project, we are working to connect this to the Ohio River Trail and Mill Creek Greenway to create a 34-mile trail loop around the city.”

    Mill Creek Greenway 

    “There’s about 2.5 miles from Spring Grove Village through Northside to South Cumminsville. There are public art installations, including Space Walk, a to-scale model of the solar system that glows at night.  There’s also a public orchard installation. You can ride on Canal Bikeway, following Central Parkway and Eggleston, to connect to the Ohio River Trail at Sawyer Point.”

    Devou Park and Mt. Airy Forest 

    “Beautiful natural surface trails right in the heart of the city. Great for mountain biking and hiking.”

    Great Miami River Trail 

    “There’s 7 miles from Fairfield to Hamilton, 9 miles in Middletown, and 55 miles from Franklin through Dayton to Piqua. The connection between the Middletown and Franklin sections is scheduled to start construction this year!”

  • June 10, 2020 4:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A Sustainable and Resilient Region is a Just and Equitable Region
    Green Umbrella Seeks to Bring Diverse Voices to the Environmental Movement 

    Green Umbrella stands in solidarity with those fighting for racial justice and the dismantling of structural racism. Black lives and voices absolutely do matter. Our culture has marginalized them for far too long, and far too many inequities continue to exist. We envision a world where every person, including Black, Indigenous, and all people of color, feels safe and has the same opportunities to thrive.

    Equity is one of Green Umbrella’s core values. We actively work to incorporate equity in our events and initiatives and have intentionally increased diversity among our staff and board. But we know we have not done enough to seek out and amplify voices of color as we work to create a sustainable, resilient region for all.

    Many of our current areas of action specifically aim to address inequities at the nexus of race and environmental health. Poor air quality and flooding disproportionately affect marginalized communities, and they often lack access to fresh food, greenspace, and trails. Our current projects include:

    • Working with Cincinnati Public Schools to incorporate outdoor learning, relaxation, and fun for all students.
    • Pursuing opportunities to enhance the environmental health in multi-family housing.
    • Working with local hospitals to mobilize medical campuses as sources of affordable, healthy food.
    • Building a multi-racial, interfaith network of congregations dedicated to environmental stewardship and climate solutions.
    • Expanding pedestrian and bike connectivity in Avondale, Evanston and Walnut Hills, from Wasson Way to the Uptown Innovation Corridor.

    We know it is essential that we have diverse participation and leadership as we work to enhance the regional food system, expand our trail and greenspace network, lower our climate footprint, and make our communities more resilient. If you are interested in being part of the conversation and collaboration, please connect with us. Help design and implement systemic solutions that are rooted in the perspectives of our entire community.

    We look forward to hosting Majora Carter, an environmental justice activist and revitalization strategist, as our keynote speaker for the 2020 Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit on August 5-7. This will now be a multi-day virtual event featuring additional programming at the nexus of social justice, environment and resilience (more details coming soon!).

    Please stay tuned (and hold us accountable) for updates on how we are living up to our commitment to build a diverse regional environmental movement.

    - Green Umbrella Staff and Board

    Our equity-oriented work is made possible in part thanks to funding from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the L&L Nippert Charitable Foundation. 

  • May 21, 2020 11:48 AM | Anonymous


    By: Daniel Lessing

    Simply put, the core reason for sustainability is to honor our human responsibility to take care of ourselves, our communities, and the world in which we live. In the process, we, as residents, become healthier, happier, more productive, and more fulfilled human beings. 

    Designing sustainable buildings from the ground up minimizes the mechanical, electrical, and renewable systems required to support the building, therefore driving down cost.

    When applied to project design and construction, this belief system is considered a holistic approach to people and their environment. It represents a model of interconnectedness where the notion of sustainability supports good health and the confluence of people — where they live, work and play. As awareness of the holistic model grows, more professionals are recognizing its importance and taking into account all the health and wellness factors and benefits involved in building design and construction.

    Evolution of the holistic approach

    Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, for example, formed a Healthy Building Team to develop standardized metrics that plot a holistic approach toward understanding the ways that buildings and indoor spaces—from hospitals and apartment complexes to enclosed shopping malls and aircraft—impact the people who work, live and travel inside them. 

    The Healthy Building Team’s "9 Foundations of a Healthy Building" established key Health Performance Indicators (HPIs)—ventilation, air quality, thermal health, moisture, dust and pests, safety and security, water quality, noise, lighting and views, and ventilation that serve to provide key insights into how a building is performing. This line of attack is increasingly critical as the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic produced a tectonic shift in the public’s approach toward living and working in a healthy environment.

    Since 2013, the Center for Active Design has worked with the City of New York and the American Institute of Architects to create a set of Active Design Guidelines that provide architects and urban planners with strategies for “creating healthier buildings, streets, and urban spaces, based on the latest academic research and best practices in the field.”

    More recently, in 2019, the global 2030 District Network was formed in the United States to partner with property owners and managers, developers, and commercial tenants “to establish a global network of thriving high performance building districts and cities, uniting communities to catalyze transformation in the built environment and the role it plays in mitigating and adapting to climate change.”

    Currently, the Network includes more than 1,000 municipalities in specified Districts that have committed to meeting 50 percent reductions in energy, water and transportation-related emissions as established by Architecture 2030 in its 2030 Challenge for Planning. More than 1,800 buildings—over 470 million square feet of commercial real estate—whose owners have committed to reduce resource use are on board.

    In the United States alone, the Network is supported by some of the country’s largest business entities such as Kroger, Siemens, Zurn, Westin Hotels & Resorts, and Trane, while cities involved in the effort include Tucson, San Diego, Seattle, Dallas, Denver, New York City, San Francisco, and Cincinnati, which alone has been lauded as a national leader in environmental sustainability.

    Cincinnati’s 2030 Network, one of the most active in the entire program, is comprised of 30 members that have committed 357 buildings and more than 26 million square feet—space equivalent to that of almost ten Empire State Buildings or more than 32 Madison Square Gardens—to reduce the consumption of energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions among Cincinnati’s building infrastructure by 50 percent over the next decade.

    By partnering directly with members, the Cincinnati 2030 District “accelerates the development of sustainable buildings by breaking down market barriers, encouraging collaboration, and assisting members in the deployment of innovative sustainability solutions.”

    Underscoring Cincinnati’s commitment to collaboratively achieving sustainable goals, the city formed its own Green Umbrella regional Sustainability Alliance as a grassroots initiative comprised of the 2030 Network and several regional groups. Over the past several years, Green Umbrella has launched a new set of collaborative Impact Teams aimed at encouraging local governments and developers to imbed sustainability goals into their energy, water, health and wellness, construction, transportation, waste management, and land use, protection and restoration projects.

    Such corporate and grassroots collaborations are examples of what can be accomplished, including the ability to reach mutually agreed-upon goals and a common vision. With everyone working collaboratively, the builder, the designer and the owner can view sustainability as a golden thread woven into an efficient and functional integrated design process.  

    Integrated project design

    Integrated design is only a few years old. Fostered by the concept of lean functional and manufacturing practices, many in the corporate world saw it initially as ‘pie-in-the-sky’ theory. Originally, the concept drew interest in the healthcare field. One reason is because of the nature of a profession in which mutual cooperation is critical, making the ultra-integrated and complicated design principles involved in the construction of hospital and medical center projects mandatory.

    By definition, this approach, according to the American Institute of Architects, “integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency.” The basic difference between a traditional approach and an integrated design process is that people from a variety of disciplines work together from the very beginning. When that’s done and all the players have reached agreement on a common vision, mission and goals, the final design is more impactful—integrated, as it were—with more people involved looking at the same problems from different points of view. 

    Implementing an integrated design process combines details of all the core components that can then be analyzed by all stakeholders to collectively identify synergies and potential problems. This permits the application of different strategies to design and complete a eco-friendlier project.

    Eliminate the friction

    Construction has traditionally involved a degree of friction between owner, designer and contractor hinging on the traditional ‘design, bid, build’ template with every stakeholder trying to protect their own interests. Many factors — mechanical and electrical systems, building occupants, sustainability efforts, overall climate, cost, and much more — are considered when designing a building. With all these factors at play, conflicts and work silos tend to emerge. For example, some project managers will fixate on the goal of cost reduction which, if their evaluation does not include sustainability goals, can lead to obstructionism. The folly of that path is that, in reality, the most impactful and most cost-effective sustainability items are things that need to be implemented from the beginning. If a preoccupation is placed on products and technologies, a more sustainable design is going to be more expensive as a matter of course. But, if every decision is made from the very beginning of the process through the lens of the sustainability goals, the result will be a building that is not much more expensive than a building that lacks an integrated sustainability framework.

    Common goals for the common good

    By creating a large and eclectic community—owner, designer, contractor, and end user—around a certain project, the overall process will be stronger and more beneficial.  Removing disciplinary boundaries, promoting cooperation, and refining design and construction assures that the ultimate goal of integrating both sustainability and utility will be met. 

    This process is critical in producing a genuinely ‘green’ building and has given rise to an increasingly popular conversation among professionals to differentiate between the goals of ‘built well’ and constructing a ‘well building.’ Implementing integrated design at the grassroots level can result in potentially achieving both goals to everyone’s benefit.

    The best way to achieve this potential is a holistic and structured approach to the design process, including setting goals, breaking through disciplinary boundaries, using iterative analysis and refinement of design options, and following-through on details. Overall, the process offers mechanical engineers the opportunities to expand their horizons and think beyond the limits of HVAC design, at the same time enabling them to take a broader role on the projects they work on.

    Example from the field

    In October 2015, the Toyota Motor Corp. announced its Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, a corporate-wide initiative that identified six sustainability challenges the company would address over the next three decades—new vehicle zero CO2 emissions; facilities zero CO2 emissions; vehicle treatment and recycling; elimination of vehicle life cycle CO2 emissions; minimizing and optimizing water usage; and helping “establish a future society in harmony with nature.”


    (Caption: Planning for sustainability and wellbeing in challenging areas like natural sunlight and air circulation are more effective when considered early in the design process rather than being tacked on at the end.)

    Challenge 2050 has been grafted into Toyota’s global corporate policy and is fully aligned with both its long-term manufacturing and sustainability goals. Toyota created a sustainability plan built on how the company’s individual component projects can support its corporate sustainability goals. In so doing, the company successfully integrated the input of an inclusionary project team made up of members from every segment of its operations to guarantee that both ideas were heard and that mutual goals were established. 

    As a result, since 2015 construction at Toyota’s major facilities in the United States have met or achieved their sustainability objectives including Platinum LEED Certification. One of them—the company’s 129,000-square foot Supplier Center in Saline, Michigan—earning the distinction of being the only the fifth building in the world, and the first east of the Mississippi, to receive LEED V4 Platinum Certification.

    The beauty of an integrated process, such as Toyota’s, is that it inspires a unified commitment of the  people who identify common goals for the common good. As such, the collective team is responsible for achieving the successful completion of agreed-upon goals and metrics that serve as the perfect project ‘kick off’ point with everyone moving in the same direction and pulling the rope from the same end. 

    Sustainability cannot be an afterthought 

    A broad approach toward melding integrated design and sustainability does not need to equate to a more expensive or complicated process. Nor can it be an add-on afterthought. It must be woven into the fabric of any building project from initial design to completion and beyond. Cost-conscious project owners frequently want to price a ‘traditional building’ with ‘bolt-on’ sustainability elements, leaving the decision of affordability till after the fact. 

    That monochromatic approach compartmentalizes sustainability efforts and the health and wellness elements, and, in the end, serves to drive up cost versus the intentional integration of both to impact mutually agreed-to sustainability goals. 

    Over time, the awareness of the critical importance of collaboration at all levels will continue to attract attention. As a result, integrated design and sustainability will merge into a single course of action laying out the best route to follow in overcoming the traditional bent toward the role fragmentation and risk aversion inherent in the design/construction process.

    Innovation in both concept and practice and a holistic approach can only facilitate the process and secure achieving those mutually agreed-to sustainability goals.

    Daniel Lessing ( is a Client Leader for BHDP Architecture, an award-winning international architectural firm, recognized for intelligent, innovative and inspiring design solutions in architecture, planning, interior design, project management, strategic consulting, and spatial analytics. BHDP services five core markets: workplace, retail, higher education, science, and integrated industrial design. The firm has offices in Cincinnati and Columbus, OH; Atlanta, GA; Pittsburgh, PA; and Charlotte and Raleigh, NC. 

  • May 12, 2020 1:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO

    By: Pat LaFleur

    What can the COVID-19 pandemic teach the Tri-State about using its street space?

    For Northside resident Mark Samaan, the historic Cincinnati neighborhood's already narrow sidewalks have felt even narrower during the coronavirus pandemic.

    "Northside, like a lot of other Cincinnati neighborhoods, is really old and was built with narrower streets, narrow sidewalks, denser living," said Samaan, a resident and planner who has consulted with the neighborhood's community council on pedestrian safety. "It's what a lot of people like about the neighborhood and why they live here."

    The character and charm that has come to define his neighborhood, however, now could pose a risk in the midst of a public health crisis.

    "At a time like this when you need to spread out a little bit, it's a weakness because of how narrow the sidewalks are," he said.

    As the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have spread across the globe over the last four months, cities have begun to rethink how they use their public rights-of-way as social distancing recommendations become a part of everyday life.

    It's a movement that's beginning to take hold here in Greater Cincinnati.

    For downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine restaurants preparing to reopen outdoor seating later this week, Mayor John Cranley's announcement that certain neighborhood streets would close or partially close -- to allow establishments to expand their patio spaces into the streets -- came as a welcome and creative solution.

    "I like the concept a lot," said B&A Street Kitchen employee Henry Barker. "I think more people would be more open to going out and being outside, which is very important at this time."

    The city of Loveland went so far as to designate part of its business district as a "DORA" -- a designated outdoor refreshment area -- when restaurant and bar patrons can purchase alcoholic beverages and roam the neighborhood. It's a designation that previously applied only to special occasions but is now in play to accommodate local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown.

    The city of Cincinnati has considered open-container districts as early as 2016, and the concept has always applied during large festivals like Taste of Cincinnati or Oktoberfest, within festival limits. Similar measures also have applied for nearby festivals like Maifest and Oktoberfest in Covington.

    "At a time like this when you need to spread out a little bit, it's a weakness because of how narrow the sidewalks are," he said.

    But some would like to see the concept expand beyond just food and dining.

    "It's a huge challenge, especially in our cities, where you have people closer together, to have that opportunity to space," said OTR resident and pedestrian safety advocate, Derek Bauman. Bauman -- who also ran for City Council in 2017 -- was influential in steering city officials toward adopting a "Vision Zero" approach to traffic policy. "Vision Zero" refers to a conglomeration of road design, policy and enforcement principles with the goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero.

    "We need to look at these public spaces that we have on our streets: How can we reimagine them? How can we expand opportunities for more use than just by cars racing through?" he said. "I think this crisis has really created an opportunity to fast-track that."

    Pandemic or not, Samaan has a history of pushing the city of Cincinnati toward projects that could slow down traffic through his neighborhood. In 2018, he helped the Northside Community Council measure the impact of 24-hour street parking along Hamilton Avenue through the neighborhood's business district. Replacing a travel lane with a parking lane in each direction resulted in a 70% reduction in rush-hour crashes through the busy corridor.

    In light of new social distancing recommendations, Samaan said he'd like to see some neighborhoods repurpose some street lanes into space for people walking.

    "When I've been walking around Northside during the day or on weekends... people are staying distanced for the most part, but when you need to pass someone, people are just passing each other, violating the six-foot rule," he said. "Or, folks are stepping into the street, which is good -- you stay away from the other person -- but technically that’s illegal, and you can’t really do that."

    Tri-State Trails is one local organization that hopes to leverage this moment to steer conversation toward repurposing a lane on the Veterans Memorial/Fourth Street Bridge connecting Newport and Covington in Northern Kentucky. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in April temporarily closed the 84-year-old span over the Licking River after an inspection found evidence of corrosion on a load-bearing structure.

    The bridge later reopened with one lane of traffic closed and a reduced weight limit.

    "The Fourth Street Bridge is functionally obsolete, which means it was designed for something different than what it's currently doing today," said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails. "The sidewalks on it, specifically, are not (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. They're about 4 feet wide, and if you are an individual in a wheelchair coming up the bridge and you see another individual in a wheelchair on the bridge, one of you is going to have to back out to allow the other person to pass."

    Johnston and members of the local cycling community submitted a letter to KYTC District 6 requesting the unused traffic lane be converted -- at least temporarily -- into a walking and biking lane.

    "In this moment right now, we have a bridge that's functionally obsolete, we have a global pandemic, and we're being told to keep [6] feet apart and a sidewalk on the bridge that currently doesn't allow for that," Johnston said. "Make this lane closure permanent and create a barrier so that the westbound lane could be used for bike and pedestrian traffic only."

    KYTC District 6 spokeswoman Nancy Wood told WCPO in an email Monday that the cabinet is planning emergency repair measures to bring the bridge back to its original 17-ton weight limit and three-lane road capacity, but also said her district is working with Covington and Newport to determine if using a lane on the bridge could be possible to promote safer cycling conditions.

    "This is not a quick fix," Wood wrote. "There are several factors such (as) weight distribution on the bridge and continuity with the cities," Wood said.

    He said he hopes the COVID-19 pandemic helps government agencies overseeing street projects adjust what they think is possible.

    "The problem is never doing it. The problem is that (these projects) can have some unintended consequence on something else," Samaan said. "In many cases, that's cost or it will impact traffic congestion too much. When we're talking about these sort of temporary, emergency measures, I think what the city needs to learn is that it can be easy to change the street."

    While commuting to work is down during the pandemic, he said, other matters, like the potential for traffic congestion, "may not be an issue to worry about at this time."

  • May 11, 2020 1:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: City Beat


    Solve This Bike Month Scavenger Hunt from Tri-State Trails While Exploring Greater Cincinnati on Two Wheels

    May is National Bike Month and Tri-State Trails — a self-defined "alliance of community advocates advancing a vision to connect and expand our region’s trail and bikeway network" — is offering some fun ways to explore the city on two wheels.

    From March 16 to April 6, local bike trail use was up 30 percent compared to last year — some trails have even tripled their traffic, according to Tri-State Trails — as people are using their quarantine time to get outdoors and exercise.

    “Trails and bikeways are one of the few places that have remained open during the stay at home order, and have proven to be an essential amenity for our community during this crisis,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella.

    And the network has been posting some fun prompts on its social media to help continue this outdoor trend of exploring the area's more than 570 miles of trails, including a scavenger hunt.

    Solve This Bike Month Scavenger Hunt from Tri-State Trails While Exploring Greater Cincinnati on Two Wheels

    Find all the spots on the hunt and get a free Tri-State Trails sticker

    May is National Bike Month and Tri-State Trails — a self-defined "alliance of community advocates advancing a vision to connect and expand our region’s trail and bikeway network" — is offering some fun ways to explore the city on two wheels.

    From March 16 to April 6, local bike trail use was up 30 percent compared to last year — some trails have even tripled their traffic, according to Tri-State Trails — as people are using their quarantine time to get outdoors and exercise.

    “Trails and bikeways are one of the few places that have remained open during the stay at home order, and have proven to be an essential amenity for our community during this crisis,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella.

    And the network has been posting some fun prompts on its social media to help continue this outdoor trend of exploring the area's more than 570 miles of trails, including a scavenger hunt.

    Find trails to ride that may correspond to these prompts at And if you think you've found all the answers to these clues, send your results to and get a Tri-State Trails sticker in the mail.

    And as we are all still social distancing, Tri-State Trails has a list of safety precautions to keep in mind while you ride to help avoid the spread of COVID-19.

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