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Expanding bike and pedestrian access in Cleveland

 |  11/30/10 @ 4:47pm

Over the past couple years I have noticed a significant increase in bicycle activity here in Cleveland. In fact, a recent NOACA study indicates more than a 50% increase in cycling in Cuyahoga County. A smile comes to my face when I see the flashing lights of a bicycle commuter riding down the road, or a family riding at Edgewater Park on a Saturday. As we continue to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians it is important that we prepare truly multi-modal solutions for both of these types of users. I am excited by Clevelanders becoming more active and when people get out of the car and onto bikes, it is good for our health and for our environment. Articles like the downtown bike station story in the Plain Dealer makes me optimistic about the future of riding bikes in Cleveland. click here

Last week I had the opportunity to participate as a community stakeholder in a review process for the Lorain - Carnegie Bridge Bikeway Improvement Project. These proposed improvements are a direct result of the work of the Access for All campaign created by the Sustainable Transportation Action Team (STAT) formed out of the 2009 summit. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is anticipating spending approximately $6,000,000 in improving the Bicycle and Pedestrian access across the Cuyahoga River for the Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods. I'd like to commend ODOT on a well managed and inclusive stakeholder meeting. We had some heated discussions, but everyone was respectful of each other and we created some good potential solutions to improving access across the bridge. I think we were all very happy with ODOT when they stated that they wanted to start construction by summer 2011. This is a project that should not sit on the shelf. Help pedestrian and cycling access in our community by providing your input. Please visit ODOT's website to fill out the survey and suggest your preferred option. Click here

I have recently had the opportunity to see a couple very exciting bike/pedestrian improvements in other parts of our country. One is a pedestrian access on U.S. Route 93 bridge over the Colorado River. This is a highway that was built in 2003 to bypass the Hoover Dam. The pedestrian access is a narrow walk, but was impressive. So many people were on the bridge while cars flew by at 65 miles an hour. The second is the transformation happening in NYC; it feels like they are moving lanes, striping roads everywhere. This is dramatically transforming NYC into a "bike friendly" town. I put this in quotes, because the built environment can only affect culture and behavior so much. I do believe however that the built environment will eventually help to change the culture. I was struck by an article in the NY Times about the backlash that is beginning to emerge in NYC. It reminds me that change is always difficult, and when it happens faster than the community's mindset, you often meet conflict. This is sometimes unavoidable and  you can step into land mines as it seems the NYC traffic engineer has. NYC is setting a trend and demonstrating some extremely creative examples of traffic calming in the biggest concrete jungle we have here in the U.S.  click here

We are making some significant strides here in Cleveland on improving our infrastructure not only to accommodate greater transportation options, but also to manage our stormwater more effectively, improve the efficiency of our roadway lighting and other transformative efforts. We have a long way to go, but we should be proud of how far we have come. As we move forward, let's take examples like what we see in NYC and elsewhere and adapt them to what can work for Cleveland.

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