Green Umbrella in the News

  • October 01, 2021 12:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU

    By Ann Thompson

    A room with a view is among one of the benefits that allows for a productive work environment, a new report says.

    The publication, developed by Cincinnati's 2030 District, covers everything from air and water to mental health.

    The Cincinnati Chapter of the environmentally conscious 2030 District has named employee health as a priority. With the help of community partners, it developed a guidebook for companies on how they can support their workers and create healthier workspaces.

    There are seven key components in this Occupant Health Guide:








    During a virtual presentation Sept. 30, architect Amy Malmstrom spent time explaining why the mind is a part of this. “We’re thinking about mental health as truly a whole person’s wellbeing and how space can truly impact you and how we can adopt space so that you can have the best and most productive work environment.”

    Haworth workplace design specialist John Scott was the featured speaker and pointed out just getting up and walking around can rejuvenate employees. Scott says whenever possible, let workers go outside and work. If it isn’t, he says bring the outside inside, suggesting plants and rooms with a view.

    “Office workers we found to perform anywhere from 10-25% better on mental functions and recall when they had a view to the outside,” he says.

    You can download a short and longer version of the guidebook on 2030’s website.

    Director Elizabeth Rojas called it the organization’s “fourth pillar.” 2030 already has goals of reducing energy, water and transportation by 50% by the year 2030.

  • September 30, 2021 12:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU

    By Jolene Almendarez

    Dozens of cyclists and community members showed support for making the piloted mile-long Clifton bike lane permanent at a special Neighborhoods Committee meeting Thursday night. Despite some opposition for the project, officials joined in supporting the issue. But it would still be three to five years before one could be constructed. So what happens to the temporary one in the meantime?

    The Department of Transportation says making the bike lane permanent could cost about $3 million.

    John Brazina, director of transportation and engineering, says the Clifton bike lane was always meant to be a temporary installation that was intended to be taken down in August. He cited safety concerns about issues like keeping roadways and lanes clear during winter months.

    "So with the temporary installation, we're concerned about how that was going to affect traffic, the cones, the barriers, the signs, things like that," he said

    But he verified data collected by those who support the project: traffic accidents weren't impacted by the bike lane, speeding was reduced, and there's public support for the project.

    Brazina said a city survey shows 78% of the 147 people who responded support making the lane permanent.

    "This shows that there is momentum and there is support for a permanent solution," he said.

    Matt Butler, president at Devou Good Foundation, says the nonprofit can pitch in to address some of the issues raised by the city. The organization has already donated $100,000 for the pilot program.

    For instance, the organization is willing to donate $50,000 toward the purchase of a downsized street maintenance vehicle to keep debris and snow out of the lane. And they'd shell out another $100,000 to improve the design and aesthetics of the bike lane, along with extending it to East McMillan Street.

    It's also willing to invest $200,000 to install a protected bike lane down Ludlow Avenue to Blue Rock Street in Northside, which is an already approved permanent bike lane set to be built within five years.

    "Clifton Avenue is — you guys have quite a road there, 70 feet wide. It's pretty difficult to cross if you're walking," he said. "There's no stoplights at a lot of the crosswalks. And we thought anything that we can do to attempt to make things better, we'd love to help out. And so we've been involved in this process from the beginning."

    Butler has noted taking down the bike lane would cost about $20,000, which is money better spent on investing in better infrastructure for cyclists.

    Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails, says in addition to funding the project, organizers are more than willing to work with neighborhood groups and the University of Cincinnati to find a solution that works for everybody.

    "We want to find common ground — a win, win, win — to make the bike lane permanent," he said. "Number one, that's our end game here, right? And to improve the safety on Clifton Avenue overall. But while we know that's going to take three to five years to find money to do that, in the short term, can't we keep what we have, or some version of it, some improved version of it, that will allow for bikers to continually continue to get to campus safely?"

    With such strong support, what's the concern?

    Two officials for the University of Cincinnati spoke about some of their concerns about the bike lane and what it means for the campus community.

    Pat Kowalski, vice president for administration and finance, said university officials supported the pilot program before it was even launched. They also requested it be removed by Aug. 1, though. Kowalski says that's not because they don't support the project. They just didn't see a path forward financially or logistically.

    "We do support a bike lane. But we do want a long term solution that facilitates flow for not only the bikers, but for the vehicles out on Clifton and the pedestrians that move around — a long term comprehensive solution," he said.

    And unrelated construction plans along Clifton Avenue, he said, need to be taken into account.

    UC officials weren't the only ones with concerns. Over 60 people attended the meeting and most were in favor of keeping the bike lane in place. But a few residents spoke out against the lane.

    One resident spoke about increased congestion in the area, with traffic back-ups and increased commuting times, especially during peak travel times.

    Another speaker said he's lived in the neighborhood for decades and is also a bike rider.

    "I think that the temporary bike lane has been a disaster... it's been turned into an eyesore. There's concrete barriers. There's bright orange plastic cones all over. It's embarrassing. It's a cesspool," he said.

    But supporters pushed back on these criticisms saying traffic has always been congested in the area. They also said the city should be committed to keeping people safe and saving lives with pedestrian safety projects.

    Neighborhoods Committee Chair Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney was also given credit by bike lane supporters for keeping the issue up for public comment and speaking in favor of the project at City Hall.

    She said what comes next for the project is bringing together stakeholders to talk about possible next steps.

  • September 28, 2021 12:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU

    Congress is considering two massive bills that both contain action on climate change. The first is the infrastructure bill that would pledge billions of dollars toward cleaner transit and resiliency projects in disaster-stricken communities. The second is the $3.5 trillion bill that would direct billions of dollars to incentivize coal and natural gas burning utilities to switch to renewable energy. Using a budget process known as reconciliation, Democrats hope to pass this second package with only Democratic votes.

    Joining Cincinnati Edition to discuss climate legislation are Natural Resources Defense Council Climate and Energy Program Director of Federal Electricity and Utility Policy Yvonne McIntyre; City of Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability Director Michael Forrester; and Green Umbrella Executive Director Ryan Mooney-Bullock.

    Listen at

  • September 22, 2021 12:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: CityBeat

    Fall is here, and the weather in Cincinnati is looking incredibly comfortable this weekend — practically perfect for doing something outside.

    And to encourage locals to get out there, the 18th-annual Great Outdoor Weekend is offering more than 100 free activities across area parks, rivers, trails and more.

    Presented by regional sustainability alliance Green Umbrella and partner organizations, adults and kids alike can expect to partake in events ranging from rooftop yoga at Rhinegeist to free pedal boat rentals at Miami Whitewater forest and a butterfly walk at Woodland Mound to "competitive bird-watching" at Grailville. See a full calendar of events at

    In a release, the organization also encourages people to get out on their own to bike, hike, or explore Green Umbrella's 40 natural Greenspace Gems or Tri-State Trails' more than 570 miles of trails.

    Green Umbrella says spending time outside can help with everything from stress reduction and improving self-esteem to helping with quality of sleep.

    "Now more than ever, people are turning to trails and parks to be healthy — both physically and mentally," says Tri-State Trails Director Wade Johnston in a release. "Tri-State Trails' Trail Monitoring Program documented that trail usage was up 19% in 2020 compared to 2019 around the region."

    Great Outdoor Weekend takes place Sept. 25 and 26. All events are free. For more info, visit

  • September 15, 2021 12:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
    By Wade Johnston, Tri-State Trails Director

    At Tri-State Trails, we believe that expanding the transportation options for people in our region benefits everyone, not just the people who choose to use them. Nowhere is this more true than the Clifton Avenue two-way protected bike lane near the University of Cincinnati. City of Cincinnati officials have recommended removing the lane by November, which was installed in March as a pilot project, and installing a permanent lane at a future date once $3 million in funding is secured.

    We agree with city officials that the pilot has been a success, especially recently with the return of University of Cincinnati students to campus. The average daily usage of the lane has doubled in the past few weeks, giving college students a safe alternative for getting around in a neighborhood where traffic and parking can be a challenge. Perhaps more importantly, the volume of motorists driving faster than 40 miles per hour on Clifton Avenue fell by 43% after the protected bike lane was installed.

    This drop in speed along Clifton Avenue, where at least 22 pedestrians have been hit since 2011, makes the street safer for pedestrians and other motorists; indeed, a pedestrian struck by a car moving 40 miles per hour is roughly twice as likely to die as the same pedestrian struck by a car moving 30 miles per hour.

    There are other benefits to the community from a protected bike lane. Many people want to ride their bikes more, especially as a way of getting around rather than just for recreation, but they are nervous about the prospect of riding on a busy street. A study by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities looked at protected bike lanes in five cities and found that:

    • Ridership increased from 21% to 171% within one year of building the protected bike lanes;
    • 10% of those riders shifted from other modes of transportation, while a quarter shifted from other bike routes;
    • More than a quarter of riders said they were riding more;
    • Self-reported comfort levels were higher than a striped bike lane; and
    • No collisions or near-collisions in more than 144 hours of video involving 12,900 cyclists.

    The study also found strong support for the protected lanes, with 75% of residents saying they support building more protected bike lanes, and 91% saying they support separating bikes from cars.

    University and neighborhood representatives have expressed concern about traffic congestion and safety around the protected bike lane. These issues are not an outcome created by the new protected bike lane – rather, a visit to nearly any street around campus during rush hour will reveal that congestion and speeding are a normal occurrence around the university. A permanent protected bike lane and other roadway enhancements on Clifton Avenue can help solve those issues by giving residents and visitors a comfortable car-free way to get around. They also boost health by promoting active transportation and reducing pollution. There’s even evidence that local businesses benefit from bike traffic as people on bikes are more likely to stop and visit merchants than people in cars.

    The pilot period has uncovered ways we can improve the Clifton Avenue protected bike lane and make this thoroughfare safer for all roadway users. We encourage all interested parties to come together to detail what the obstacles are – from better securing the buffer curbs to enabling winter snow removal to accommodating construction projects on the UC campus. Once we’ve inventoried the obstacles, we can come up with ways to address them to ensure the bike lane works as intended for everyone.

    The most important lesson from this project is the vision of mobility it represents: one that prioritizes cyclists and pedestrians as much as it prizes cars, and in doing so makes Cincinnati a safer place for us all.

  • September 15, 2021 12:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WCPO

    By Madeline Ottilie

    On Wednesday, a new phase of the Wasson Way trail was opened following a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

    The new phase begins at Marburg Avenue and heads down through Ault Park. Business owners along the newly opened stretch said the impact has already been felt.

    "I've encountered a lot of people that have never even heard of our business, but because they walk or run on the trail, they drive by us all the time," said Young Harwell, supervisor at Hyde Perk.

    He said the uptick in business began when the trail, which lies just outside the store's parking lot, opened last year.

    "We really felt the surge back in August of last year," said Harwell.

    The surge in business months into the COVID-19 pandemic helped to shield them from the negative impact the virus had on other businesses like theirs.

    Across the street at Busken Bakery, they've had a similar experience.

    "Even people out of town, people who are staying over in Rookwood at some of the newer hotels are then getting out, doing a walk, enjoying the area," said Kathy Birkofer, director of experience at Busken Bakery.

    Busken Bakery opened a pop-up window right on the trail to catch people as they're walking by.

    "We're starting to see trail-oriented developments pop up around this corridor," said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails. "What we're going to see happen in the next five to 10 years is more and more businesses making their back door the front door, where they're oriented towards the trail."

    Tri-State Trails partnered with the city to secure a $6 million federal grant that helped make the Wasson Way trail possible. Currently the trail stretches from Hyde Park to the edge of the Xavier University campus.

    "What I think is so powerful about the trail is how we're connecting communities that have historically been disconnected," said Johnston.

    When complete, the trail will be just over 6 miles. It will join a 34-mile trail loop that will connect it to the Little Miami Scenic Trail, the Ohio River Trail and others.

    I think there's potential for every single community," said Harwell. "What's been so great about the trail is that it will have impact on every community that it touches."

    Ultimately, the trail will continue into Avondale. The project is expected to be completed by spring 2024.

  • September 14, 2021 12:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: WVXU

    Many local cyclists make use of Cincinnati's growing collection of bike paths and lanes. Some of the more adventurous hit the regional and statewide trails available to residents of the Buckeye State.

    But did you know that some of those well-loved local routes connect into a national network of bike paths called the U.S. Bike Route System that advocates hope will someday link the entire country?

    Joining Cincinnati Edition to talk about how local, statewide and national bike trail efforts compliment each other are Adventure Cycling Association U.S. Bike Route System Coordinator Jennifer Hamelman; Ohio Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School and Active Transportation Manager Caitlin Harley; and Tristate Trails Director Wade Johnston.

    Listen at

  • September 13, 2021 12:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Magazine

    From yoga at Rhinegeist’s rooftop to breakfast in the woods, there’s something for everyone at this year’s 18th annual Great Outdoor Weekend.

    Cincinnati is home to an abundance of protected greenspaces, nature preserves, trails, and parks. Most residents live within a 10-minute walk of our city’s parks, and Green Umbrella is here to celebrate with over 100 free events for the whole family. On September 25–26, the 18th annual Great Outdoor Weekend is about making sure that everyone has access to the great outdoors and the best outdoor recreation and nature education programming. The two-day event features activities hosted by dozens of organizations at locations across the Greater Cincinnati area, including Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. Great Parks of Hamilton County alone has planned concerts, astronomy, paddling, animal experiences, and golfing to do over the weekend. There’s something for everyone—people of all age groups and abilities can join in on the fun, and many activities are transit accessible. Here are some of the highlights.

    Rooftop Yoga at Rhinegeist

    Sunday, September 26

    10–11:30 am

    1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine

    Who says downward dog has to be without a beer in hand? Head up to the rooftop bar for a free 50-person yoga sweat session taught by an instructor from Embra Studios. It’s first-come, first-served, so get there as early as possible. Afterwards, take a growler to go! Rhinegeist is offering half off growler fills, and a portion of the brewery’s proceeds from throughout the day will be donated to Green Umbrella.

    Breakfast in the Woods

    Sunday, September 26

    8–9:30 am

    5330 S. Milford Rd., Milford

    Wake up early for an 8 a.m. hike at Valley View Nature Preserve behind Pattison Elementary School. This family and pet-friendly event is stroller accessible and takes you through the 190-acre forest. Explore the biological diversity that nature has to offer right here in our city’s great parks, and finish out the morning with breakfast at the fire ring.

    Aiken New Tech High School Agricultural Campus

    Saturday, September 25

    9 am–1 pm

    5641 Belmont Ave., College Hill

    Visit this unconventional high school to see how students are contributing to nature and learning about the business side of agriculture, too. From chickens to an orchard, the students are preserving the outdoors and creating a lucrative agribusiness—student-roasted coffee that will be available for purchase by the cup or by the bag.

    The New Whitewater Canal Trail

    Sunday, September 26

    10 am–4 pm

    15040 U.S. 52, Metamora, Indiana

    Celebrate the soft opening of the new Whitewater Canal Trail in Metamora, Indiana. There’s hiking, biking, habitat restoration, plants, history, and a brand new 11-mile section of the trail. The location is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers and open to the whole family.

    Third Annual Run the Riffles

    Saturday, September 25

    9 am–2 pm

    4330 Spring Grove Ave., Spring Grove Village

    Join Mill Creek Alliance for an Urban Stream Adventure on the Mill Creek with the expert guides of the Mill Creek Yacht Club. The day includes a kayak race, an urban hike along the Mill Creek Greenway trail to learn about creek restoration projects, and a BioBlitz walk to identify and count local species.

    Ready to make a plan for the weekend?

    Visit the Great Outdoor Weekend website for more information and the entire schedule of events that is filling up with more things to do weekly.

  • September 12, 2021 12:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Reuters

    By Sarah LaBrecque

    With President Biden’s American Jobs Plan failing to deliver as promised, Sarah LaBrecque reports on how cities like Cincinnati are taking the lead on mitigating and adapting to climate change

    In July this year, Ohio’s Governor, Mike DeWine passed a law preventing cities in the midwestern state from taking steps to ban property owners from installing natural gas or propane in new buildings. It was a reaction to a trend popping up in cities across the country: local action being taken to decarbonise the buildings that people live, work and gather in.

    The trend started in 2019 when Berkeley, California, banned gas hook-ups in all newly constructed residential buildings and most non-residential buildings, on the basis that it gives the fossil fuel an advantage not offered to electricity, and amid health concerns about the combustion of gas in buildings.

    Today, 48 cities in the sunny state have enacted similar bans or limitations, and municipalities across the country from Seattle to New York City have followed suit, or plan to. In Massachusetts, an ongoing battle rages between cities and state legislators, over plans to turn the state electric.

    But Ohio isn’t having it. And neither are 19 other state legislatures. In a land where individual freedoms take priority over almost all else (in this case, the right to heat or cook with gas), it’s a prime example of how political and divisive energy is. And it shows how those working to decarbonise the country’s buildings are caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Over 30% of the U.S.’s total greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to fossil-fuel combustion to heat, cool and power buildings

    The good news is that efficiency gains from measures such as updated standards for appliances and climate-smart building codes in the U.S. have meant that energy intensity decreased by 19% in residential buildings and 15% in commercial buildings between 2007-2017. Less positive, however, is the fact that over 30% of the U.S.’s total greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to fossil-fuel combustion to heat, cool and power buildings. And efficiency gains won’t be enough to avoid total emissions rising, at least in commercial buildings, through to 2050.

    So what’s being done to tackle this, despite the challenging political environment?

    For a start, determined action at city level. In 2020, 157 U.S. cities disclosed their climate and emissions data to CDP, the global non-profit that helps companies, regions and investors manage their environmental impact. These municipalities, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Providence, Rhode Island, represent a significant chunk of all global participating cities: about 20%.

    What’s more, the U.S. contingent is strongly represented in CDP’s A-list, a group of global cities leading on their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, with 25 of the 88 on 2020’s A-list in the U.S. And among the top mitigation efforts reported by these cities, energy efficiency and retrofit measures, plus updated building codes and standards, featured strongly.

    But money for such measures is certainly not flowing. CDP recently identified a $10.6bn funding gap, across 97 participating cities, to implement sustainable infrastructure projects such as building retrofit and energy efficiency upgrades. With nearly 20,000 cities, towns and villages across the U.S., the figure will be far higher. “Budgetary capacity is one of the major challenges for cities,” says Katie Walsh, head of cities, states, and regions for CDP North America.

    Some federal funding would be nice. And things did look promising earlier this year: as part of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, $370bn had been earmarked to help decarbonise the country’s building stock. Through weatherisation programmes, grants for schools and public buildings or tax breaks on efficiency upgrades, such funding would go a long way to help lower energy bills for Americans, create jobs and provide more comfortable living and working spaces. Fast forward to June, however, and that $370bn had shrunk to, astonishingly, zero.

    For those keeping a careful eye on the climate-centred aspects of Biden’s flagship proposal – the American Jobs Plan is part two of the President’s “Build Back Better” agenda – seeing that money disappear from the books was incredibly disappointing. “This is what keeps folks like me up at night,” says Jillian Neuberger, a U.S. legislative engagement expert at the World Resources Institute. “Buildings are everything. They’re where you grow up, where you live, where you go to school, where you work, where you go when you’re sick. It’s important to make sure that we get the full scale of funding that buildings really require.”

    At the time of writing, some proposed funding had been reinstated, for example $500m over fiscal years 2022-26 in grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements at public school facilities, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (a new proposal that has evolved out of the American Jobs Plan).

    But negotiations continue and the final package may not land on the president’s desk for several months, if it does at all. In any case, what has snuck back onto the balance sheet so far is still “a far cry from the scale and ambition of the $370bn in the American Jobs Plan, for energy efficiency and buildings”, says Neuberger.

    Without federal funding, cities may struggle to play their part in a goal Biden himself has set: to halve emissions across the country by 2030. But places like Cincinnati are ploughing ahead, despite the odds. Ohio’s third most populated municipality, with around 300,000 inhabitants in the city proper, has set its own local goal that mirrors Biden’s: a commitment to reduce buildings’ energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 50% by 2030.

    The goal was set as part of the City of Cincinnati’s involvement with the 2030 Districts Network, an organisation founded by the non-profit Architecture 2030. Across North America, 23 “urban building districts” have formed their own chapters, “in order to drastically improve buildings’ environmental impact by 2030”. The Cincinnati chapter, which collectively includes over 300 buildings, is run by non-profit Green Umbrella. Alongside the city, participating members include the Port of Greater Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati.

    In a state that is the sixth highest in the U.S. for CO2 emissions, a 50% emissions reduction target in less than nine years is perhaps ambitious. In terms of electricity, 24% of Ohio is powered by natural gas, 58% by coal and 14% by nuclear. Oil, wind and other sources make up the remainder (2017 figures). So what to do when you’re a green city in, as Walsh delicately puts it, “a state that doesn't have the same targets and ambitions”?

    Get creative. From increasing tree canopy cover to counter the urban heat island effect, to contracting out the largest municipally run solar farm in the country, Cincinnati is not letting state or federal support (or lack thereof) stand in its way. And neither, it seems, are Ohio’s other leading cities. Interestingly, three of the state’s cities or counties appeared on CDP’s A-list: Cleveland, Columbus and Cuyahoga County.

    Michael Forrester, director of the office of environment and sustainability for the City of Cincinnati, rattles off an extensive list of ways the city is decarbonising its buildings. Programmes include tax breaks on the incremental costs of building improvements in order to achieve LEED status, discounted rates on green energy achieved through “aggregating” all their customers, and grants for rental property owners to install energy efficiency upgrades.

    After the record-breaking heatwaves that blasted through the north-west this summer, measures that not only relieve pressure on building’s cooling systems but also build climate resilience into a city’s structural fabric are needed more than ever. According to nonprofit Climate Central, Ohio averages about five “dangerous” heat days a year. By 2050, the state could see 30. In Cincinnati, increasing tree canopy coverage to at least 40% in every neighbourhood – a figure that impresses CDP’s Walsh – should bring myriad benefits.

    Currently some neighbourhoods have 70% cover, while others have only 10%.

    Forrester says the city has done temperature-mapping studies and found that areas with the least tree cover were, unsurprisingly, the hottest. “Cities can often be 10-20[F] degrees hotter than the surrounding areas,” he says, explaining that night-time temperatures are rising, particularly in areas with lots of pavement and buildings, but few trees. “Preventing heat-retention is very important for buildings’ overall performance and overall [energy] consumption,” he asserts.

    Add in the benefits to air quality, mental wellbeing and stormwater retention that trees can provide, and it’s a no brainer. “It's also, frankly, an equity issue. Because a lot of our hotter areas are in our poor and minority neighbourhoods,” says Forrester.

    Just as the natural world relies on a plethora of complex systems and networks to thrive – climate conditions, soil health, plant and animal interactions – achieving carbon neutrality in buildings will require a coordinated and complementary web of actions. With only 4% of a city’s carbon footprint falling under mayoral control, it may seem like the cards are stacked against municipalities. In terms of buildings, indirect emissions from embodied carbon, and fossil-fuel powered electricity grids and heating networks, as well as state-managed building codes, have a lot to answer for.

    Cincinnati has benefited from some grants and technical assistance from the likes of Bloomberg Philanthropy and the National League of Cities to help its green transition. Its mayor, John Cranley, also joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which includes representatives from over 10,000 cities in 138 countries, on the same day that President Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017.

    Forrester says Cincinnati has one of the highest per capita number of LEED buildings in the U.S., which he attributes to municipal tax incentives. And the city is active in discussions with state partners around updating energy codes.

    Together with other U.S. cities, Cincinnati is determined to show that local action by its leaders can create meaningful change to the built environment, regardless of what is happening in Washington D.C.

  • August 19, 2021 12:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
    By Chris Mayhew

    Part of the first railroad line to enter Cincinnati prior to the Civil War is closer to becoming a biking and walking path tying into a web of urban and rural trails connecting all the way to Lake Erie.

    The framework to construct a final agreement was agreed upon in March by the city, the line's owners, and the railroad that has rights to operate on it.

    The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority owns the unused north track and a south track used by the railroad for freight operations and for a seasonal passenger dinner train operation. The city, cyclists and railroad officials all refer to the trail path and tracks as part of the Oasis Line, a name that dates back to a former brick railroad switching station built in the 1960s near where the trail will begin.

    Cleveland cycling attorney and cyclist Ken Knabe has ridden the entire 336-mile trail network south to dip his tires in the Ohio River after starting on the shore of Lake Erie.

    Cyclists have a tradition of dipping their bike's front tire in the water to ceremoniously mark the start and the end of the trip on traveling all of the Ohio to Erie trail.

    The last leg of the journey, now completed by riding on Riverside Drive in Cincinnati, will be safer when the Oasis trail opens than having cars pass close by at 25 mph or more, Knabe said.

    Knabe said the cycling trip south took three days with stops in hotels in Millersburg, Columbus and Yellow Springs before arriving in Cincinnati.

    "It creates a lifelong connection and friendship of the people that you ride with and then you have the historic towns along the way," he said of the journey.

    In Cleveland, it took three phases to create a seamless trail that isn't on roads. The last portion required building a bridge for the trail over an active rail line to get to Wendy Park. It opened in June.

    About 12% of the 326 miles of trail still require going over a street or road, he said. The rest are paved or crushed gravel trails restricted to pedestrians and cyclists.

    One of the not-to-miss features of the trail system on the northern end is the journey on the former canal towpath through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, he said.

    "My ride of choice is the towpath because every time I go on it I see a heron, I see a huge turtle, It’s just relaxing," Knabe said.

    Genesee and Wyoming Inc., through its property Indiana and Ohio Railway, owns rights to use the tree stump- and weed-filled north track from the transit authority that will become a trail. The section of the northernmost part of the former Little Miami Railroad tracks will join much of the other parts of the former railroad line that are already a bike and walking trail.

    The five-mile multi-use path will start near the Montgomery Inn Boathouse and stretch east to Carrel Street to connect to trails around Lunken Airport.

    Bike-trail advocates credit Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley with brokering the agreement the city has in place now with Genesee and Wyoming Inc. The transit authority owns the north track.

    The city's agreement promises $3 million through the authority to the railroad company to buy its rights to use the north track. A provision in the agreement to erect a chain-link fence or another barrier between the eventual path and remaining active tracks is one of the key reasons city and trail officials say the railroad relented on earlier objections to the trail. The freight railroad continues to serve Cincinnati Barge and Rail Terminal just east of T.M. Berry International Friendship Park, and part of the seasonal Cincinnati Dinner Train uses the south Oasis Line track that will remain after the trail is created.

    "First, as safety is our first priority, it’s always our goal to keep people and rail lines as far apart and physically separated as is feasible," said Michael E. Williams, a spokesman for Genessee & Wyoming Railroad Services. "That’s always our position on the subject of trails."

    All parties in the ongoing discussions with the city and railroad are working well together, Williams said. The discussions remain active, he said.

    "This has been the breakthrough we’ve been waiting to happen for 10 to 15 years," said Wade Johnston, a cyclist and director of Tri-State Trails for Green Umbrella. "The mayor made this a priority."

    This will be a continuation of the experience people have on the existing Little Miami Scenic Trail, Johnston said. People can bicycle on Riverside Drive, but it's not ideal for novice cyclists or families with small children, he said.

    The ongoing Beechmont Bridge Connection Project scheduled to open in summer 2022, will connect the existing Little Miami Scenic Trail to trails around Lunken Airport.

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