Friday, October 10, 2008

Becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community

Quietly, today marks a big day for our community.

As the respective representatives of the Transportation Improvement District from the County and City, I and Councilmember Jeff Berding are convening a group of leaders to organize our region to apply for and receive a designation, and ranking, as one of our nation's Bicycle Friendly Communities.

Whether it's for recreation, or commuting to work, or doing other everyday things, it's clear that more cycling is one solution to many of our challenges: energy, environmental, economic, quality of life. Those communities that are "with it" when it comes to bicycles are getting ahead, attracting new residents and visitors, enhancing their economies, and cleaning their air. (Just check out Loveland on a sunny weekend to see the effect it can have; or read what Louisville is doing:

Our goal is to join that club, and to do so in a unique way by including all the jurisdictions of the County. So we are gathering leaders of business, law enforcement, planning and engineering departments, transportation, bicycling advocates and enthusiasts, along with leaders of cities and townships alike, together to chart out our plan to get there. It will start with inventorying what assets we already have (a growing network of trails, some very active riding groups), and then prioritizing what else we need to do.

For more information on the Bicycle Friendly America effort, go to:

You'll see from the website how many ways, large and small, we can make our community more bicycle friendly. From public safety and awareness. To advocacy. To trails. To employers who make commuting to work easier. To more bike racks. To planning and design as we construct roads, development projects (the Banks!), etc.

The sky's the limit, and the work (and fun) starts today. We plan to use this application process as a way to think through, and then implement, everything we can do to maximize bicycle use.

If you're interested in participating in this community-wide effort, let me know.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Take the Agenda 360 Survey

One of our community's more inspired efforts in recent years has been the work of Agenda 360--a partnership of many citizens and institutions working to create a shared, proactive and forward-thinking agenda for our region.

They are in the process of seeking broad-based input from citizens as they build that agenda.

You can help them by taking their survey at the following website:

Filling the Stadium, and Not Just for Football

For the past year, Todd Portune and I have been very clear on one goal--given the taxpayer investment in Paul Brown Stadium, we want to see the stadium used far more than 10 times a year for football games. It's a community asset, and should be used as such.

We are pursuing this goal in numerous ways, but today we have an exciting announcement--local star Heather Mitts and the gold-medal winning U.S. Women's Soccer Team will play a game here next month.

To quote the press release:

"CHICAGO (October 7, 2008) – The gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will continue its Achieve Your Gold Tour at Paul Brown Stadium vs. South Korea on Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The U.S. will be visiting the hometown of U.S. defender Heather Mitts, who has 91 caps for the USA and started all six games in China, for the second time. The U.S. also passed through Cincinnati on the 2004 Victory Tour to celebrate the gold medal in Athens, Greece.

The tour, which is taking the Olympic champions across the USA to celebrate its historic run to the top of the podium in Beijing, also announced stops in Richmond, Va., on Nov. 1 and Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 8.

Tickets go on sale Sunday, Oct. 12, at 10 a.m. ET at, by phone at 513-562-4949 and at all Cincinnati-area Ticketmaster ticket centers. Groups of 20 or more can obtain an order form at or call 312-528-1290."

So come out and watch a Cincinnati-born and -raised superstar play in her hometown!

Windstorm Survey Results -- Surprising

Since people from across the County and region had such individualized experiences over the course of September's windstorm, I expected results to be all over the map. But still, the results (out of 138 responses) surprised me.

Question 1: 42.7% said the windstorm was an inconvenience, 20.2% said it had a major impact on them and 26.6% said it was in between a major impact and an inconvenience. Only 10% said it was less than an inconvenience, or had no impact at all.

Question 2: Almost 2/3s of respondents lost power for two days or more. About 1/3 lost it for 4 days ore more. 15% lost it for more than 5 days.

Question 3 and 4: About 60% suffered damage beyond losing power, and 69% threw out their food.

Question 5: Most people kept up about the storm through the radio, and word of mouth (53% each). Perhaps not suprisingly due to the blackout, television, the internet and government briefings were significantly lower (24.2%, 21.1%, 4.7%).

Question 6: As to communication about the storm, you ranked the institutions in the following order: media (2.91 out of 5); government (2.68); law enforcement (2.62); health department (2.53); Duke Energy (2.47); Time Warner Cable (1.97).

Question 7: As to the overall response to the storm, you ranked the institutions in the following order: Duke Energy and law enforcement (each with 3.36); government (County/municipality) (3.30); health departments (3.12); Time Warner (2.53).

Given all the attention on Duke Energy, here is the breakdown on the rating of their response, on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being outstanding, 1 being very poor):

1 -- 15.3%
2 -- 13.7%
3 -- 18.3%
4 -- 23.7%
5 -- 28.2%

Substantive comments:

Your substantive comments were incredibly helpful. The majority of people were understanding of the difficult circumstances, and their number one frustration was simply wanting better communication of when they might get the help they need, and get their power back. Others wondered why there wasn't a better, more transparent prediction of the storm, so they could have prepared.

Almost all agreed we need to be better equipped and prepared for the "next one."

And most people said they will themselves be better prepared: having emergency kits, back-up batteries, nonperishable foods, buying generators, batter radios, and water.

Thanks again for taking this survey. I will pass all these results along to the relevant entities as we together assess how to do better next time.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The "Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere"?

Sadly, the politics of the Presidential election seem to be degenerating every day that goes by. But I'm a firm believer that substance and policy still matter.

One of the starkest differences out there is the candidates' approach to health care. Lost in the play-by-play commentary about who won last Thursday's debate, I think Joe Biden turned a lot of heads when he described the way that the McCain health care proposal would work.

As Biden described it, the plan essentially increases taxes (by taxing health benefits as compensation) while pushing a lot of employers out of the health benefit business, leaving employees to find health care themselves with a $5,000 tax credit. This was news to a lot of viewers and voters. Gov. Palin didn't rebut Biden's basic claim, and I haven't found any commentary that rebuts that this is in fact what McCain is proposing.

Today, Paul Krugman commented on it:

To give a counterview, here's an article by the Cato Institute defending the plan:

I find the proposal to be deeply worrisome. I'd love to hear other thoughts. And if you support the McCain plan, I'd love to hear your thoughts on why you do.

Either way, if McCain is serious about a proposal this dramatic, it's something every voter should know about as they enter the voting booth (or mail in their ballot).

Today is the last day to register in Ohio, by the way.
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