Improving Road Safety in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood

A Movement Speeds Case Study

Authored By: Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments

Uber Movement believes in applied research informing our product roadmap to empower planners and enable data-driven transportation planning. Learn how OKI leveraged Speeds data to measure outcomes of a traffic calming initiative in Cincinnati’s Northside business district.

Northside, an eclectic neighborhood of Cincinnati with a thriving business district, had an unusually high number of pedestrian and bicycle accidents involving automobiles during 2015–2017. The business district, located along US 27 (Hamilton Avenue), is a four-lane road that sees more than 21,000 cars a day.

A crash in 2016 took the life of a much beloved business owner only feet from her restaurant’s front door on Hamilton Avenue. The incident prompted residents, upset by the lack of pedestrian safety in their neighborhood, to work with the Northside Community Council to develop strategies for improving safety along their business district. The group provided a list of safety measures to the Cincinnati City Council to implement in their neighborhood.

One measure developed through the process was a traffic-calming pilot project. The pilot project called for the removal of parking restrictions in the curb lane during morning and evening peak hours along Hamilton Avenue, between Hoffner Street and Bruce Avenue. The goal: reduce traffic speed through the business district by turning the four-lane road into a two-lane road. Allowing 24-hour-a-day parking in the curb lanes would increase the side friction to traffic flow on the roadway. The pilot, which ran from May 12–June 18, has since been extended indefinitely.

OKI Regional Council of Governments, Greater Cincinnati region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, is using Uber Movement Speed data to measure the effectiveness of the pilot program. With the Uber Speed dataset, OKI is able to analyze speed data, segment by segment, throughout the business district by hour of the day and direction of traffic.

OKI examined peak period (7–10 AM, 4–7 PM) mean travel speeds for the five weeks prior to the pilot and compared them to the five weeks during the pilot. Overall, speeds were slightly reduced during the pilot. Northbound traffic showed the largest drop in speed, slowing 5.6% during the evening rush (4–7pm) over the length of the corridor. Slower speeds were especially concentrated in the northbound direction between Hoffner and Blue Rock streets. Traffic in this segment experienced up to 20% (4.3 mph) slower speeds (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Change in travel speeds along Hamilton Avenue, Northside after allowing 24-hour parking (previously, parking was not permitted during rush hours). This analysis compared mean travel speed from April 5 — May 11 (~5 weeks prior to pilot) compared to mean travel speed from May 12 — June 18 (~5 week pilot period) during PM peak hours (4–7 pm).

51% of the corridor experienced little change in speed (+/- 4%) during the evening rush. Reductions in speed were not evenly distributed geographically or temporally. Morning rush hour (7–10 AM) speeds did not show meaningful reductions, nor did southbound traffic. Table 1 summarizes the change in speed along the length of the corridor by direction and time period.

The reduction in speed during the pilot project was so promising that the city has now made the changes permanent. Additionally, a post pilot analysis performed by the city of Cincinnati has shown traffic crashes to be down 39% and a follow up online survey indicated that residents feel safer walking and biking along the corridor. There is intention from the city to continue to monitor and analyze findings within the Northside business district.