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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bike Lanes Coming to Fort Thomas?

At the July city council meeting, a new city resident and active cyclist Brett Kendon of 2370 N. Ft. Thomas Avenue approached the council with the idea of having bike lanes created in Fort Thomas.  Mr. Kendon believes that such lanes would provide better safety for the numerous bikers around town.

"I contacted council and pitched an idea, or a suggestion, for bicycle lanes in the city," said Mr. Kendon. Mr. Kendon cited studies done in other cities that have bike lanes that show a reduction in the amount of accidents and injuries.

"I love it," said Mayor Haas"This has been a hot topic for me personally, as well, and I've pushed it for years." But he also brought up the fact that the bicycle lanes have to be a certain width to meet federal regulations and we are lacking enough room.  "We are lacking space to have official lanes, but having space for cyclists to ride is still an important issue." 

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"I think that they are a wonderful idea.  It gets people in the community, it gets exercise, it brings foot traffic, or bike traffic, past local business, and on any given day, there are multiple groups of bikers that go through town and I think it works very well with what we are thinking of in the city, as a big picture with all the stuff that's happening in the parks.  This is a very exercise-based city: walking, riding, and if we can make them work through the city, I think it's a phenomenal idea."

While the idea of bike lanes may sound good from a council perspective, those that choose to bike as a major means of transportation have some reservations. Space, again, seems to the the issue.

Chris Deinlein, Fort Thomas resident and bike enthusiast said, "I think bike lanes could work, but I don't think we have enough room through most of the city for exclusive bike lanes. I think that putting up share the road type signs and even putting down bike lane decals on the road to indicate the need to share with bikes would be helpful and raise awareness. There appears to be an assumption by a lot of people that bikes aren't supposed to be on the road and it can get very dangerous as a rider." 

Deinlein said as a rider, he's had personal experiences where cars have been overly aggressive with him.

"I understand some cyclists don't always follow traffic laws and can cause some congestion, but that doesn't mean their lives should be put at risk or harassed by reckless drivers. Cyclists need to ride responsibly but they also need to be treated with respect," he said.

Former Fort Thomas Matters reporter, Pat Lafleur, sold his jeep and began primarily using his bike for transportation five years ago. Now, he exclusively travels by bike or mass transportation.

Lafleur, now the Transportation and Development Reporter for WCPO was gave some insight on the proposal sent to council.  He said space wasn't the only issue to consider, but connectivity to other communities.

"Bike lanes are most effective when they’re connected. A town like Fort Thomas would need to consider that surrounding cities, for the most part, also have little in the way of bike lane infrastructure," said Lafleur.

RELATED: Pat Lafleur's FTM Column: "Alt. Rte." (2013)

"Developing a plan with Bellevue, Dayton and Newport would create more impactful bicycle access to and from Fort Thomas.  That said, multiple transportation options almost always leads to healthier communities. If the presence of bike lanes creates more awareness among residents — or maybe even leads to some feeling more comfortable riding on the road — then it would benefit Fort Thomas in that way.  Planners and residents would have to consider the lanes’ impact on parking, in that most city streets allow for (and rely on) on-street parking."

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City staff will research the issue further to present options to city council.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that bike lanes are most effective when they are connected, and realize that neighboring towns don't have them, but someone has to be the first town to do it.
    Hearing that Fort Thomas was installing bike lanes would very likely incite neighboring cities to join in. I love the idea.