Traffic Calming: Is it Right for Mt. Airy?

By Mike Bechtold

The issue of traffic safety is of considerable personal interest to me. On November 20, 2020, my wife and I were headed up Colerain Ave. hill when we encountered a young man who had too many drugs in his system. He missed the curve, crossed the center line, and hit us head on. I stayed conscious, but my wife did not. Two ladies on the sidewalk pried open her door, took her hands, and prayed over her until the EMT’s arrived. We were in the ICU for five days, rehab for a couple of months, and PT for a year. We both had surgeries for multiple broken bones, but will never be as functional as we were. And we’re the third and fourth people in our own group of friends who have had head on collisions on Colerain hill in Mt. Airy. The data shows 172 accidents on that hill in 2022.

The City of Cincinnati has joined a global movement known as Vision Zero that seeks to greatly reduce and potentially end traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. It takes a systematic approach to road safety using data driven analysis from all over the world to redesign streets primarily in urban areas.The term often applied to these efforts is “traffic calming”. If you have driven through our neighboring community of College Hill recently, you will have encountered a traffic calming pilot project on North Bend Rd. and Hamilton Ave. that is part of Cincinnati’s effort to implement Vision Zero. The plan has multiple facets with the goal of reducing speeding and improving safety for all street users.

It is important to note that these changes are a temporary experiment. Numerous public forums are taking place in College Hill and feedback is being collected by the Transportation Department. The project can be adjusted or entirely rolled back as unanticipated problems may arise. If widely accepted and effective, the College Hill pilot program may eventually spread and could be brought to Mt. Airy.

The primary driver of the CDOT Vision Zero program is city planner Melissa McVay. Mt. Airy CURE has contacted Melissa to inquire about how this program may affect Mt. Airy. She was very responsive and eager to share information with us. She gave us several details about how this program will be bringing traffic safety changes to Mt. Airy in the very near future! Mount Airy Town Council has been instrumental in getting this accomplished. First, they are planning to build a raised crosswalk in the center of the Colerain business district. These have shown to be quite effective at slowing traffic and just the mere presence of a crosswalk should make Mt. Airy a much more pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. This will hopefully include both overhead and side-mounted crosswalk signs. Second, the installation of speed cushions on Colerain just south of North Bend are in the planning pipeline. Speed cushions differ from speed bumps in that they have cut-outs spaced at the width of emergency vehicle tires which are wider than automobile tires. We are encouraged by these developments and will continue to provide updates. Please contact Mt. Airy Cure at [email protected] If you have comments or questions.