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Road diet ideas for Taylor; finding the Opportunity in Cleveland's 'forgotten' Corridor

Marc Lefkowitz  |  07/18/11 @ 4:00pm  |  Posted in Transportation choices

·The city of Cleveland Heights will manage one of the region's largest road projects this year, the $7.25 million Taylor Road reconstruction between Euclid Heights Boulevard and Monticello Boulevard. Currently, South Taylor is seven lanes wide, with the city proposing to narrow it to five lanes (part of its intent was to calm traffic and make it more bike and pedestrian friendly). The original (2002) plan that was presented for public comment and approved by the city called for narrowing the road by removing two-car lanes and replacing them with wider grassy treelawns. The city planned to create a more inviting space by planting trees, benches, crosswalks and a multi-use path on the Severance Town Center (or east) side.

The city has since said it doesn't have the money to narrow two lanes and add trees, benches and a new multi-use path, and so it modified (without public feedback) the plan – now it only plans to expand the grass and curb on the east side. That plan will do little to calm Taylor, a very wide road with proposed lane widths of two 14 foot curb lanes, two 12 foot inner lanes and a 10 foot turn lane.

GreenCityBlueLake proposed to Cleveland Heights City Planning Director Richard Wong and Mayor Ed Kelley alternatives to this modest plan, in an attempt to open a dialogue about how the city can promote a safe and comfortable place for cycling and walking on Taylor and other roads. We proposed a number of options that, aside from some minor costs for design (and perhaps a standard change order) shouldn't impact the cost of the Taylor rebuild. In fact, we think it will improve it as a 'complete street'.

An initial proposal calls for reusing the expanded 12 feet of tree lawn on the east side for a curb-separated bike path – again the city is proposing to put in a new curb and a wider tree lawn on top of existing pavement on the east side. Instead of going to the expense of hauling in tons of soil and sod and moving out the sewer catch basins, we suggest reusing the road as a barrier separated, two-way cycle track (pictured). Cycle tracks are a recognized and safe way to provide a bike facility in high volume and higher speed roads like Taylor. A two-way cycle track on Taylor could address the need of moving cycling into a safe, dedicated space off this busy road. It also addresses a concern that the city had (and why it eliminated a bike lane and wider berm) for the west side – the many residential curb cuts and on-street parking make it challenging to configure a bike lane on the west side. Cycle tracks have been successfully built on high volume urban roads in Montreal and in downtown Indianapolis with its Cultural Trail (pictured above). Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised 100 miles of separated bike paths in the city.

The money saved from moving sewer grates alone could pay for the cycle track on Taylor.

Another alternative to the current plan is to borrow some lane width from the 14 ft and 12 ft. lanes and stripe in a six-foot wide bike lane on the east side (similar to this five-lane road in California). The west side of the road where on-street parking and the residential curb cuts make a bike lane more challenging, the city can paint a wide painted shoulder to designate a space for cycling without officially taking a lane. Whatever plan the city decides to pursue, the community stakeholders – those walking and biking to and around Severance need to be invited to the table to participate in the conversation – the city will gain from the perspective of these user groups and do more to promote livable communities while avoiding the perception that its overwhelming concern was fresh pavement for cars. The Cleveland Heights City Council will meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. – on the agenda are the details of the Taylor Road project. Also, see our previous post on the bid to make South Taylor a Complete Street. And the Doug Whipple of the Severance Neighborhood Organization has also been following the city's plans for Taylor Road here.

·Is Opportunity Corridor foremost a limited access highway for westsiders commuting to the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus, or is it primarily an economic development project for Cleveland's southeast side? How does it integrate with neighborhoods like Kinsman and Central, and their plans for redevelopment, including: Kinsman's urban agriculture zone, the $23 million Evergreen Greenhouse at E. 55th Street, the new Rapid station at E. 55th, proposals for a large scale Sewer District Green Infrastructure project and other green projects that have waited for a catalyst? Here's your chance to voice support for Opportunity Corridor as a green development driver – ODOT and the city of Cleveland will hold a series of public meetings next week. Review most recent planning documents here.

·The Northeast Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council shared a "booklet" of green development incentives and a listing of sources of incentive information. See this July 11th newsletter that outlines thirty-nine funding opportunities related to energy for sustainability, brownfield development, rural housing preservation, smart grid, rooftop solar and much more.

·Less than a month remains before submissions are due for the 2011 Cleveland Design Competition. See the history and this year's details of this competition led by a pair of young Cleveland architects with significant big name backing.

Two way cycle track rendering in the National Association of City Transportation Officials Urban Bikeway Guideline:

One way cycle tracks:

9th Avenue in New York City

Market Street in San Francisco

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