By Pat Lafleur,
FortThomasMatters City Beat
For us pedal-pushers, May is the most wonderful time of the year. That’s because -- all across the nation -- May is National Bike Month, and around the Queen City the celebration is in full swing.
This Friday, May 17, is a day of particular pomp for Porkopolis pedalers because it marks the national celebration of Bike to Work Day, one of Bike Month’s most anticipated and participated events. The idea behind Bike to Work Day is pretty self-explanatory, but the real fun happens at lunch time, between 12 and 1 PM, at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine.
Think of it as a big family picnic for bike-lovers around Cincy, sharing a meal under the shade of the Washington Park trees. Folks are encouraged to pack their lunch, but if that’s not an option for you, Park + Vine will be selling boxed lunches for the duration of the event. There will also be supplies provided for bike decorating.
In honor of Bike to Work Day -- and this month’s slew of bike activities downtown in general -- this issue’s Alt. Rt. will provide instruction for pedaling from Fort Thomas to Washington Park. Aside from Bike to Work Day, Washington Park has multiple activities going on every week and also sits next to Music Hall.
BIKE* ROUTE: From Ft. Thomas to Washington Park (OTR)
*These instructions are only meant for those who feel comfortable riding a bike on the road with auto traffic (as the law requires), and who take proper safety precautions (including helmet, and lights if at night). The notes and ratings for the route are intended for those with little in the way of gear or gadgets.
1. Take Highland Ave. west toward Grand.
2. Make a right onto Grand Ave., heading north toward Newport. (Previous Rt. Thru Ft. Thomas/Newport)
3. Pass under I-471 overpass.
4. Make right into Newport Pavilion. Take the roadway (or CAREFULLY ride through the shopping center parking lots) toward the 10th St. exit.
5. Make left onto 10th St.
6. From 10th St., make right onto Washington Ave.
7. Make left onto 3rd St.
8. Take Purple People Bridge into Downtown.
9. Turn left onto Pete Rose Way.
10. Make right onto Broadway.
11. Make left onto 9th St.
12. Make right onto Vine St.
13. Make left onto 13th St.
14. 13th St. dead ends into Washington Park.
• The ride down Highland Ave. to Grand is simple. Watch for cars parked along the curbs, but don't worry about traffic (except around PM rush hour). Cars hold around 25-30 mph, and are usually light in density. Tolerance of bicyclists on the road is high, although Highland does collect a bit of debris and is in need of repaving.
• The same is true in the Newport Pavilion, although beware of parking lot (i.e. erratic) driving patterns. Take the road for a more straight-forward, better paved, and finished thoroughfare.
• Riding through Newport is easy-going, especially on Washington Ave. until the 4th St. bridge. The gridded layout of one-ways allows for predictable traffic patterns, and traffic on Washington is usually light. You will also probably see fellow bikers through Newport.
• The Purple People Bridge -- easily the bike-friendliest bridge between Downtown and NKY -- is divided into two parts. Coming from Newport, you’ll want to remain on the primary, 2-lane path, passing pedestrians carefully and alerting them to your presence.
• Pete Rose Way, while sometimes moderately filled with traffic, is fairly laid back in pace. Keep an eye for traffic flow and minor hazards/debris in the road. The same goes for the whole of 9th St. 13th St. presents less-maintained pavement, but has very light traffic.
• The ride down Grand Ave. into Newport can feel more intimidating than necessary because of its downhill angle. You'll want to finesse your brakes down this hill, while still being mindful not to obstruct traffic. Cars will be moving between 40-50 mph here, especially north of the I-471 overpass. Debris density and pavement roughness are more intense here. Keep a balanced watch on traffic and road hazards.
• Up 10th St. from Newport Pavilion to Washington Ave. is deceptively steep, so shift accordingly (as your bike will allow) right out of the shopping center. There is also very little shoulder.
• The initial stretch of Broadway can present a challenge for multiple reasons. First, the incline up from Pete Rose Way to 4th St. is significant. That paired with Broadway’s intersection with an off-ramp from U.S. 50 onto 3rd St., caution should be practiced.
• Vine St. only flags yellow because of the consistent density of traffic flow. Also, mind Vine’s intersection with Central Parkway. Busy, busy, busy. Follow all traffic signals and you’ll be golden.