Perhaps signaling a new era of cooperation, Cleveland and its neighbor Cleveland Heights have agreed to paint a bike lane up and “sharrows” down Edgehill Road—a popular route for hundreds of cyclists commuting between the city and its eastern suburbs.
Edgehill will be repaved this year and get bike facilities for the first time, both cities confirm.
The backstory on Edgehill goes something like this: For years the two cities couldn’t agree to when or why it needed repaving, and so the road between Cleveland’s second-largest employment center, University Circle, and the entrance to the Heights has languished, its shoulder crumbling and potholes forming.
The recently finished Circle-Heights Bike Plan cast light on the situation, and its importance in the region’s bike commuting network.
The bike lane will start at brick-lined Murray Hill in Little Italy as Edgehill climbs and curves. Cleveland Heights will continue the bike lane as it crosses the city border (in the middle of the hill).
The design calls for a buffer zone between bike and car lanes that widens as it nears the top of the hill. It will clarify the lane position for cars and bikes, and correct a confusing and dangerous intersection (where cars try to squeeze past one another).
The new lanes will be reinforced at the top of the hill with a narrowed intersection. Cleveland Heights plans to close, significantly, the distance cyclists and pedestrians have to cross at East and South Overlook. Following through on a design from the Circle-Heights Plan, the city will build big bump-outs with native-plant bioswales, says Councilwoman Mary Dunbar. The bioswales may even reduce some of the erosion and pavement damage from stormwater runoff.
The plan shies away from a bike lane on the downhill side of the road. The complicating factor is a few hundred feet of on-street, residential permit parking in Cleveland.
Is it a smart plan to continue giving away free parking for less than a dozen homes in exchange for reduced visibility at a sharp curve where hundreds of cyclists are sharing the road with thousands of fast-moving cars?
While it is commendable that both cities have agreed to narrow the lanes for cars, add a bike lane and use a more permanent material for the sharrows than paint, we wonder why they set limits on themselves for the downhill lane?
A compromise position might be a green sharrow lane. According to the National Association of City Traffic Officials (NACTO), a green sharrow lane is an option for roads, especially hilly ones, where space for bike lanes are limited. Salt Lake City and Long Beach, California tried green sharrow lanes and found they boosted predictability and thus safety for motorists and cyclists (in surveys, drivers and cyclists say they prefer them to periodic sharrow markers).