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Cleveland hands BRT mantle to El Paso; We Respect the Bike; a critical eye for green building

Marc Lefkowitz  |  05/22/12 @ 2:02pm

 El Paso, Texas is launching one of the most ambitious smart growth plans in the country-with a 55-mile bus-rapid transit system. If done well, BRT lines can stimulate infill development. Arguably, the health and technology incubator spaces being built and renovated on Euclid Avenue resulted from Cleveland's $200 million BRT line built in 2008. The way that Cleveland built its BRT has been an attraction for urban planners the world over. What lessons can Cleveland offer cities like El Paso looking to BRT as a catalyst for redevelopment? And what lessons does El Paso's big vision for BRT-with four lines extending from downtown to major destinations-hold for cities that have embarked on BRT such as Cleveland? We still haven't had a signal from officials at the city of Cleveland, RTA and NOACA that there's a vision and burning desire to build from the success of the Euclid Corridor with another BRT line.

 In "Biobased materials: Not always greener" Environmental Building News exposes the lifecycle issues for products claiming bio-based and renewable credentials.

"In many cases, biobased material sourcing comes with its own environmental problems-big ones," EBN writes.

They suggest researching how the product's 'feedstock' is mined or grown.

The good news is third-party certifiers are doing a lot of this already. Some, like Cradle-to-Cradle, are starting to result in 'greener' products, such as NatureWorks PLA, which meets their Gold standard. Others-like USDA's Biobased Product label-are self-admittedly focused less on 'eco' and more on 'stimulating innovation and creating jobs in rural areas'.

LEED, the industry standard green building rating system, is making strides with green materials, EBN reports, by piloting the reward of a Responsible Sourcing credit with proof of more sustainable growing and harvesting.

Bottom line, the article suggests (and provides an extensive chart to help) architects and builders bring a critical eye to products claiming to be both sustainable and bio-based.

"This means ensuring we are not calling something a renewable resource while overharvesting it or depleting or contaminating what sustains it-land, soil, water or nutrients. As the argument over the relative rigor of forestry certifications has shown, there are numerous considerations in addressing responsible sourcing of biobased materials as well as wide differences of opinion (about) what matters most. A trusted, third-party product certification may be the one thing that enables designers to address sourcing issues in their work."

 We respect the statement from Travis Peebles, Blazing Saddle Cycle owner and curator of a display of bikes produced during Cleveland's (first) bike manufacturing heyday, at Greenhouse Tavern till May 31. He writes:

Most of us at some point have had our lives influenced by a bicycle. Whether it was the joy of receiving that first shiny new bike, or the pain of that first fall as your father let you go for the first time. We sometimes take for granted the simple acts that a bike brings us; fitness, function, and often just plain pleasure.

The bicycle wasn't the biggest or main influence on my life personally, though I often rode my bike to the nearest fishing hole and to the store to fetch milk for dinner. Never did I imagine that it would someday change my life and help me to become the man I am today. Nor did I know about the strong influence that our great state had and still has on the evolution of this two wheeled machine that changed the way we live.

Though there is such a rich history of cycling right here in our back yard, most of us are unaware of the role that our cities and state played in the grand scheme of American cycling. The Cleveland Welding Company stood at the corner of West 117th and Berea for over 40 years ? churning out Roadmaster bicycles from the early Thirties through World War II and well into the Sixties. The Colson Company was the pride of Elyria, and Huffman bicycles started in Dayton ? giving birth to one of the best-selling lines of bicycles of all time: Huffy. Shelby bicycles were the product of small town Shelby, Ohio. Murray bicycles were born in Cleveland, and bicycles like Gendron, Dauntless, American Bicycle, The Lozier and Yost, and Colton Cycle Company were born in Toledo before the turn of the century.

This ingenuity continues today with bicycle builders such as Dan Polito, Carmen Gambino, Rustbelt Welding, Stanbridge Speed, Solid Rock Bicycles, Joe Bringheli, Groovy Cycleworks, and many others I am probably unaware of. Recently, I have spent a great deal of energy and free time in my life to the study and the history of the bicycle. I do not expect that everyone should do the same, but I can only hope that through my research and love of this simple yet sophisticated machine that I may open eyes and help educate others about the rich soulful history that our region has put into the bicycle. These are pleasures we should all enjoy because our home has been, and always will be, one of the greatest places to pedal your way through.

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