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Cleveland votes for bike sharing; Columbus invests in bike count tech

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/11/10 @ 3:00pm

As the ReImagine a Greater Cleveland initiative looks for a natural response to the blight of vacant land, the leading, city-scale model for short-term 'stabilization' being discussed at a recent meeting was Philadelphia Green, a city program that has put in holding 7 million sq. ft. of vacant land by installing split-rail fences and lawns. The ReImagine effort is exploring how to do this in Cleveland, but with low-mow grass to reduce the city's annual $3 million maintenance bill. More compelling is the small scale but large impact model developed on the other end of the state by G-Tech, a 7-employee start up of two Carnegie-Mellon grads. The Pittsburgh company is gaining attention with its simply elegant solution of hiring city kids to plant sunflowers on empty lots. This summer, they covered 15 burned out parcels in bright yellow, started a partnership to test sunflower seeds for biofuel and participated in greening a large public housing property. More.

Since we critiqued how bike counts are conducted in Northeast Ohio, we've come across the solution that we proposed being implemented in Central Ohio. MORPC, the region's transportation agency, has a new Complete Streets newsletter, and the first article touts its purchase of automated pedestrian and bike counters. Automated counters are considered more effective in detecting use patterns than human volunteers. The city used them in a recent survey of the Olentangy and Scioto multi-use trail and found the heaviest use was during the weekday commute; not on week-ends. "This suggests that the trails play an important role in transportation and are not just used for recreation."

MORPC's resources can serve as a guide to Northeast Ohio on complete streets policies and possibly a model that the city/county/NOACA can use. Also, the 2019 Transportation group maintains Complete Streets information.

Cleveland is in the running to lure B-cycle bike sharing to town. Bike sharing is a hot urban amenity-Denver, Boston and now Chicago have a B-cycle system. For $65 ($45 for students) members can walk up and check out a bike and pay only while it's un-docked (Denver has 50 docking stations around town; Chicago is starting with six on the Lakefront and in the Loop). Where would you put six stations with 50 bikes in Cleveland?

Green Energy Ohio's August 5 meeting in Columbus featured an in-depth look at the recently enacted Ohio Senate Bill 232 (SB 232) and the major expansion of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) renewable and advanced energy financing authority in Ohio. A second presentation discussed the federal actions blocking state PACE programs and remedial legislation in Congress and pending lawsuits. Caleb Bell, attorney in the Public Finance and Green Strategies groups at Bricker & Eckler LLP discussed how PACE programs permit owners (including residential, commercial, industrial, non-profit, and governmental owners) of real property to form Special Energy Improvement districts (Energy SIDs). Energy SIDs can assist in financing advanced and renewable energy projects using special assessment financing tools previously available to only governmentally-owned projects. Download Caleb Bell presentation here. Learn more about Ohio SIDS & PACE issues at on B & E website. Mary Cunningham of Renewable Concepts & Design presented an overview of the national adoption of PACE Districts and current federal bills and state litigation relating to the July 6, 2010 action of federal financing regulators (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and OCC) to block PACE loans. Download Mary Cunningham presentation here. Learn about national and state PACE issues at: PACE NOW; Vote Solar; ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA. From ClevelandBikes: At tonight's Wade Oval Wednesday in University Circle from 6-9 p.m., enjoy the Robert Ocasio Latin Jazz Project and don't miss your chance to be a part of Bicycling Magazine's BikeTown bike give away. Even if you didn't submit an essay, it's not too late to participate.

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