Vote Yes on Issue 7 for a Greener, Cleaner, Safer Region
By Ryan Mooney-Bullock and Andy Holzhauser, on behalf of Green Umbrella's Board of Trustees
Hamilton County voters have an historic opportunity to help our region become cleaner, greener, safer and more equitable by voting yes on Issue 7, which would increase funding for the region’s bus system and make other infrastructure improvements. Our organization, Green Umbrella, has historically refrained from making endorsements in ballot issues, but our board of trustees felt strongly enough about Issue 7 to endorse our first-ever ballot measure.
Green Umbrella is dedicated to promoting regional sustainability through collaboration and collective impact. We work to provide access to healthy environments, reduce the effects of climate change, and improve the sustainability of both landscapes and the built environment. An increase in funding to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which operates the region’s bus system, will support many of our priorities:
- Cincinnati is one of the country's 25 most-polluted cities, according to the American Lung Association, due to high levels of particulate pollution. The pollution increases asthma in children, damages lungs, increases deaths from cardiovascular disease and infant mortality. A regional transit system that offers alternatives to single-driver commutes will improve air quality.
- Carbon dioxide emissions in the Cincinnati region have risen 40 percent since 1990, and are up 18 percent per person in the same period, according to Boston University's Database of Road Transportation Emissions. Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gases, and most of those emissions come from driving. Coupled with smart growth and other options, an improved bus system can help lower CO2 emissions in the region..
- Pedestrian injuries and deaths from auto crashes are increasing in Ohio and due to factors such as the rise of SUVs and distracted driving. A recent study from the Ohio Department of Transportation found that Hamilton County had the highest rate of pedestrian crashes per capita in the state. Car trips are associated with more injuries to pedestrians and cyclists, as well as more fatal and severe injuries, as compared to buses. Mass transit is also associated with lower obesity rates.
- Sitting in traffic costs the average commuter in Cincinnati 60 hours and $834 per year. If even a fraction of the people now driving by themselves to work take the bus instead, traffic improves for everyone.
- Only 10 percent of the region’s jobs are accessible by a bus ride of an hour or less, which limits options and the economic mobility of residents who cannot afford a car. A more robust bus system would increase opportunities across the region.
These are some of the regional challenges that could be addressed with the passage of Issue 7, but there are opportunities to capitalize on as well. Cincinnati has become a leader in sustainability over the past decade. The Cincinnati 2030 District, a project led by Green Umbrella, encompasses 267 buildings whose owners have committed to cutting water and energy use and emissions from commuting in half by the year 2030. The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council is increasing food security and cutting food waste, and Tri-State Trails is building a network of trails and bikeways to support active transportation and healthy lifestyles. The City of Cincinnati recently launched the largest municipal solar farm in the U.S., and its pace of 2% annual reduction in greenhouse gases puts it on par with climate leaders such as Paris and Oslo.
The passage of Issue 7 will help efforts to increase the region's environmental sustainability and resilience, improve its quality of life and extend equity. We full endorse it and urge you to vote yes on Issue 7 for a greener, cleaner, safer Cincinnati.
Ryan Mooney-Bullock is the Executive Director of Green Umbrella. Andy Holzhauser is the President of Green Umbrella's Board of Trustees and a Partner at Donovan Energy.