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With design manual, Cleveland enters Complete Streets home stretch

Marc Lefkowitz  |  06/03/14 @ 11:00am  |  Posted in Transportation choices

Backers of Complete Streets gathered last week at Positively Cleveland to deliver the final push on a city promise that “orange barrel season” will routinely signal the construction of bike lanes, transit stops, crosswalks, trees and more multi-modal options.

Cleveland planners asked community groups like Historic Gateway District and Bike Cleveland to help them write a Complete Streets design manual; they will also host at least one public meeting to gather ideas.

The city’s goal is to set in stone what it expects from contractors when they design, engineer and build roads.

Two way street<br />Cleveland Complete Streets will get a boost from a design manual that spells out how the city expects them to be made.Complete Beantown<br />Boston's complete streets design manual emphasizes green, multimodal and smart technologies.

“The design manual is a clear vision of what a complete street will be,” said Donn Angus, a city planner working on the project. “That said, it promotes an incremental approach to building the city.”

Put another way, with its 2011 Complete Streets law and 2012 Street Typology report, the city started the recipe; the design manual will fill in exact measurements. So, for example, it will specify the type of permeable paver or the paint color of a bike lane as well as their dimensions and application.

Having the complete streets design manual should save money, says Angus, by providing clear guidance.

“It will save on that first 30 percent of design that the city pays for,” he says. “The designer will know (her) obstacles and how to value engineer an initial design.”

Although 500 Complete Streets policies have been written since 2003, only a few do what Cleveland wants to in combining alternatives to the car and “green” stormwater in one package.

Complete Streets have entered the mainstream, says American Planning Association in its May 2014 issue of Planning, and that has led to an evolution in thinking about streets.

“Perhaps the greatest takeway from the first decade of complete streets is that people value choice,” APA writes.

They praise Boston’s Urban Street Design Guide, with its hip graphics, smart sensors, online feedback, and for standing up to bias that roads primarily serve cars.

Similarly, with its Typology report, Cleveland looked beyond the one-size-fits-all approach to roads. The city hired Alta Planning to huddle with planners and engineers about what pedestrians and slower moving vehicles like bikes and wheelchairs need in order to safely share the road. Traffic engineers currently are trained to view people, once they leave their car, as “moving obstacles.”

“We’re really excited to take the street typologies and flesh it out,” says Cleveland bike planner, Marty Cader.

Boston’s starting point was redefining the street as 56% of the land it owns. New York shifted its thinking on Times Square. The dead strip of asphalt was converted into the most coveted sidewalk cafe seat in the city. In Cleveland, roadway space is 15% of the total land mass.

“This is really the connective tissue that holds everything together,” Cader comments.

The goal of the design manual is to promote roads that are functional, aesthetically pleasing, healthy, informative, artistic and accessible.

Comments offered back included suggestions to re-visit the Complete Streets ordinance and add language that reflects the completion of a design manual and typology report.

Maintenance and review of complete streets was also raised by the group.

“Inspection and follow through will mean everything,” agreed Deputy Planning Director, Freddie Collier. “Right now, that is a gap. But, this is a new day at Planning. We want to be shepherds.”

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Marc
3 years ago

@Exurbanist

I directed your question to Bike Cleveland Executive Director, Jacob Van Sickle, who replied:

"In asking the same question, 'Why isn't Woodland being given any complete/green street treatments?' The response from the City of Cleveland's Complete and Green Streets Taskforce, last year, was that the priority routes are Quincy (which I believe may receive treatment this year or next according to the city's priority bikeway implementation plan) and Kinsman.

"I share similar concern and am working with Councilman Brancatelli to host a joint council committee meeting to do a full review of the CGS Ordinance."

Literature from the city about the Woodland "rehabilitation" project confirms that it will undergo a major reconstruction soon. Your question raises some important points about how the city reads its Complete Streets ordinance. The ordinance cites the city's Master Bikeway Plan as a guiding document, but, I believe, it doesn't state that Complete Streets are limited to those in the bikeway plan. So, I support a review and clarification of the ordinance. In fact, the city should not limit itself to roads that are on the bikeway plan for a number of reasons, including, the age of the plan (last updated in 2007), and factors that impact on not having it updated such as Opportunity Corridor which will bisect and cul-de-sac portions of Quincy. We'll continue to follow this issue. Thanks for raising your concerns.

Exurbanist
3 years ago

I'm sorry, but the City isn't classifying Woodland as a "major resurfacing or rebuilding of that street." I suggest that GCGL go and take a look at this project to get a better understanding of the scope of the project and then follow up with the City to see why folks in that east side Cleveland neighborhood are not entitled to complete street improvements. I see the complete streets ordinance as being similar to the City's bike parking ordinance -- sounds great but once you actually take a look at the record of compliance, it is a different story.

Marc
3 years ago

Let me attempt to answer both questions from previous information supplied by city officials.

1. Cedar Ave. is not identified as a priority bikeway street on the Cleveland Bikeway Master Plan, and that was one of the criteria for evaluating what bike treatment a street will receive. It will still be looked at from an ADA, pedestrian, transit, and green perspective but it may not receive bike lanes other enhanced bike facilities.

2. Based on (City Planning's) reading of the Capital Improvements Plan,
Buckeye and Woodland are not Design and Engineering projects over the next couple years so (it is unclear) what kind of complete streets improvements will be made.

Q: Further explanation of the connection between Complete Streets and Design and Engineering projects -- Is that the way the city defines what gets a CS treatment?

A: No, it just means that the city isn't doing any major resurfacing or rebuilding of that street. Generally Complete Streets only kicks in when major street repair or construction is happening.

Also, the Complete Streets ordinance, while passed in 2011, wasn't "enacted" until 2012, so any projecst that were in the "pipeline" before it was enacted will not be retro-actively covered by the ordinance.

I hope that helps.

Exurbanist
3 years ago

Marc, Can GCBL give us a better understanding of when the Complete Streets ordinance applies to a streets construction project in Cleveland? There seems to be a lot of construction projects in Cleveland -- either currently ongoing or recently completed -- that look like business as usual and for which it is hard to identify whcih if any complete streets improvements were incorporated into the project. What gives? The Complete Streets ordinance looks more and more like an aspiration as opposed to an ordinance with the force of law.

Complete Streets?
3 years ago

What are the complete and green streets improvements that are being incorporated into the construction work being done on MLK, Cedar and Woodhill? If none or not enough, what exception to the Complete Streets Ordinance is the City citing?

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