You're paying thousands every year to remove graffiti

WCPOPublished: September 27, 2017
Published: September 27, 2017

If you're traveling between Pleasant Ridge and West Chester during the morning or evening rush, chances are you've seen Fraser Cunningham and his bicycle. You can't miss him -- his bike is lit up like a Christmas tree. "I'm just a guy biking to work," Cunningham told WCPO. "I have a flag sticking out three feet with a light on it." The lights and flag come with good reason. Lack of visibility ranked as one of the leading causes of fatal motorist-cyclist collisions -- which increased by 12 percent nationally in 2015 -- according to the most recent data available from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The GHSA released the data in a report earlier this year. It also showed that most drivers reported not seeing a cyclist on the road until it's too late, and that collisions often occurred due to inattentiveness by both parties involved. Graffiti hit the city hard in 2017, according to Keep Cincinnati Beautiful manager Mark Antrobus. Although it's not a violent epidemic, it does hurt local businesses in ways the perpetrators might not realize. A single tag can cost $250 to remove, he said. That cost can fall on the city, funneling taxpayer resources into cleaning up after vandals, or on private businesses such as Acsent in Northside. "It's upsetting because they're not showing respect for our business," Acsent office manager Linda Ledermeier said. "We're a small company, we can't find good help and we're trying to keep up with everything." Even when graffiti falls under the city's purview to remove, that removal can be slow due to limited manpower and a hierarchical set of priorities, Antrobus said. City removal services focus first on gang symbols and anti-police slogans, followed by bad language, graffiti that obscures street signs and graffiti that implies or encourages violence. Tags that are simply unsightly can linger while their higher-priority counterparts command the city's attention. "This is worse than we've seen it in the past," Ledermeier said of the vandalism to her workplace. "We would get hit in the back of our building years ago and we'd just paint over it and not say anything, but now this is getting just really bad." Antrobus advised that anyone who finds their private property affected by graffiti remove it as soon as possible to prevent taggers from seeing that property as a vulnerable spot.

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