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Suicide Circle any less dangerous? Acting locally for climate change; Cincy outpaces Cleveland in green building

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/29/11 @ 10:24am

· The response to climate change, is it still alive in the old saw, "Think Globally, Act Locally"? How is it being captured in the Climate Change exhibit programs at the Natural History Museum? There's a star-studded line up of global thinkers like Heidi Cullen, Lonnie Thompson, and the dynamic duo of Brookings' Bruce Katz and Strobe Talbott discussing the security implications of the U.S. delaying adoption of a serious policy agenda. But it also includes plenty of fun and freewheeling local speakers and events, kicking off this Sunday with a guided bike tour of University Circle and its surrounds led by Ohio City Bike Co-Op director Jim Sheehan. Sheehan will also share his expertise on the basics of transportation cycling. Then, next Wednesday, check in with the local green building sector at "The State of Green Building" with the builder and architect behind the SmartHome (NEO's first to pursue 'passive house' certification).

· If you're feeling ambitious on Sunday, add a short jaunt to your bike ride to discover Cleveland's hidden gem, Rockefeller Park. See the stately and the newest Cultural Gardens. Celebrate the original intent behind the gardens, world peace, with the One World Festival. If you still have it in you, continue north until you reach the end of the Harrison-Dillard Bikeway where you'll drink in views of the lake and Cleveland's newest lakefront park, the former river dredge island, Dike 14, which nature and a group of nonprofits have reclaimed as The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve (you'll have to come back on September 24 for an open house and guided tours.)

· In the very near future, east siders will be able to bike their way unimpeded from the suburbs to University Circle and straight on to Rockefeller Park and the Lake. The city of Cleveland is funded to start building the (Shaker) Lakes to Lake (Erie) trail which will provide an off-road path down Fairhill (through Ambler Park) and will safely get you through the spaghetti bowl of roads at the base of Cedar Hill. The multi-million dollar project will provide new, wider trails, improved intersection crossings at Stokes/MLK/Euclid and repave the aging Harrison-Dillard bikeway. The City Planning Commission promises that construction is set to begin this summer or fall.

· Also slated for a redesign is the 'suicide circle'-the busy and confusing traffic circle behind the Natural History Museum and VA Hospital where East Boulevard dumps into E. 105th Street. An initial review of the proposed option (pictured above)-an elimination of the circle and a massive widening of the road appears to serve one master-car traffic. A traffic light is added where the circle now sits, presumably, helping with the long queue of commuters who clog the area during rush hour. From the perspective of a pedestrian, the "improvements" are more of the same-there's little here to help the pedestrian make sense of where to be and no improvement in crossing the road (partially because the distance from the Cancer Survivor Monument to the VA is still insurmountable on foot). At first glance, this project looks like it was designed in an ODOT vacuum. From a bike and pedestrian advocate's standpoint, the better option would be to reroute MLK and Jeptha to E. 105th Street south of the Cancer Monument and convert the area occupied by the circle into a pedestrian only plaza (or, at minimum, convert the circle into a pedestrian refuge). This would serve well to repair the tear in the urban fabric that this circle ushered in from the 1960s onward and reconnect University Circle to the lovely Rockefeller Park and East Boulevard Historic District. A final thought, designs for roadways that only encourage maximum throughput for cars is a relic, a holdover from ODOT of old ? this project needs to go back to the drawing board with a recognition that the city is moving into a new era guided by Complete and Green Streets.

· A recent conversation with a Cleveland Green Building leader revealed that Cincinnati is outpacing Cleveland in the adoption of green building. She stated the metric that all 80 of the Queen City-owned buildings will achieve EnergyStar rating as a result of their policy that requires muni-owned buildings to meet energy performance standards. Meanwhile, Cleveland didn't crack the top 25in EPA's annual EnergyStar ranking. She also thinks a smaller population, a less sprawling metro region and a willingness to cross the river are all part of the mix working in Cincy's favor.

Recently added content to GCBL

  • Bicycle ride exploring Shaker Square/Larchmere neighborhood, Aug. 27
  • The Entrepreneurs for Sustainability Zero Waste Network is repeating its waste reduction workshops for companies who want to pursue a path to zero waste. On September 14, roll up your sleeves as this two-part session includes dumpster dives, in-depth analysis and practical tools to help cut down on waste at the office.
  • PARK(ing) Day Cleveland, an annual, worldwide event that invites citizens everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good, Sept. 16
  • Old Brooklyn Bikequinox, Sept. 17
  • Green Corners is hiring for a Regional Sales/Project Manager position to be based out of Cleveland. We are planning to launch 50-100 recycling bins located in the downtown corridors and parks of local markets including Canton, Sandusky and Cleveland.
  • Outreach coordinator for Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) Agricultural & Clean Water programs

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