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Data supports mode shift in Cleveland; Sustainable transportation group moves on West Shoreway project

Marc Lefkowitz  |  11/23/11 @ 11:00am  |  Posted in Transportation choices, Clean air

· Dr. Jonathan Patz is thinking beyond his niche as a health and climate expert and lead author of the IPCC to the cost-benefit of doing nothing to reduce climate change versus a bold rethinking of the design of cities with an eye to reduce car use (target: 20% Vehicle Miles Traveled). His "Swapping tailpipes for pedals" study looked at half of the VMT reduction achieved through cycling, compiling Census data and analyzing it against health costs in a dozen metro areas in the Great Lakes, including Cleveland.

Bottom line, if 30 million people shifted half of their trips of five miles or less from a car to a bike, Patz estimates we would save more than 400 lives and avoid $4 billion in mortality and health care costs. He also looked at the cost-benefit of replacing fossil fuels for clean energy and calculates a $49 per ton of Co2 benefit against an estimated cost for climate policy at the federal level of $30/tCo2.

"This is the kind of data that needs to be on the table in national policy discussions," Patz said. "I encourage health professionals to work with urban planners so that when the conversation turns to why America is slower to accept climate change, we have a direct comparison of the cost and benefit of acting."

Patz presented his study at Case Medical School and at the Natural History Museum yesterday. He returned to his alma mater, Case Medical School, because it has a mission of thinking beyond the patient to the built environment and the role that the design of cities can play in shifting modes of transportation for health and climate outcomes, he said.

"The design of cities can encourage more biking and walking if we're determined to shift modes and get a win-win around health and reducing green house gas emissions."

· The Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Transportation group met today with an agenda that included major reductions to the bike-pedestrian portions of the West Shoreway rebuilding project; the next steps in the city of Cleveland's new Complete and Green Streets policy; the start up of a new bike advocacy group, Bike Cleveland; transformative pilot projects in the planning phase including a Better Blocks project, bike boulevards and road diets; and acting as a community voice in the $6 million ODOT investment in bike-pedestrian facilities on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge and path to Gateway (the STAT group was instrumental in winning as a compromise from the multipurpose path on the Innerbelt Bridge campaign). For more information on the group and to read the minutes from the meeting, go here.

· One item of note-the STAT group has met with city of Cleveland officials regarding the West Shoreway project to discuss ways of fulfilling the city's original intent to improve bike and pedestrian access across the shoreway to dip their toes in the sand and the lake. After a productive initial conversation and an initial look into the traffic models ODOT and NOACA which put the nicer aspects of the boulevard like cross streets and a bike path at odds with adding time and congestion to commuters, the city agreed to hold two public meetings to discuss the significant changes in these areas. Initial word is the first public meeting is coming up in early December. One of STAT's action items will be to confirm the date of the public meeting on the West Shoreway, advertise it to you, and formulate a well reasoned response to the direction the project needs to go to serve the city's goal of revitalizing neighborhoods and connecting people to the lake front. For more information about the group and to read the meeting minutes, click here.

· The Earth Day Coalition recently held a benefit that raised up the profile of Sustainable Neighborhood leaders, those living or pursuing their passion in their work to support a more sustainable future. We commend their choice of Rena Spyrou, Owner Mixed Greens for starting up a salad bar consisting of local veggies at Tower City. What better way to put sustainability into action in Cleveland and fulfill a mission that the private side (see our food truck post) doesn't see as having market potential. EarthDay writes:

"Rena is a graduate of Mayfield High School in 1998. From 1996-1998 she participated in Earth Day Coalition's Student Environmental Leadership program and was president and founder of her High School environmental club (PLANET: People Learning about Nature and Earth Today). Rena credits this High School experience and Program Director Dawn Wrench with sparking her passion for environmental protection. Rena went on to graduate from high school, study environmental studies in college and in 2008 start her own business in Cleveland, Mixed Greens at Tower City. Mixed Greens is an upscale salad bar featuring seasonal foods from local farmers markets. Rena also volunteers with the Downtown Alliance to improve our city as a place to live and work. Rena has opened a second location at Galleria and is working on a third location due to open in February.

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