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Moving The Midway to the center of Cleveland's transportation agenda

Marc Lefkowitz  |  06/29/16 @ 3:00pm  |  Posted in Biking, Vibrant cities

The Cleveland Planning Commission kicked off a series of public meetings on the feasibility of the Midway, a dream hatched three years ago by a pair of "avid cyclists" who proposed a network of protected bike lanes surrounded by green space that would run right down the middle of the road.

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Engineers from consulting firms, Baker and SmithGroup JJR, were on hand at the Cleveland Public Library this morning to explain that the plan has won conceptual city approval for 15 proposed roads. Impressively, they are main roads with favorable conditions—wide, low traffic volume, serve an important transportation purpose—for a road diet on a scale never before seen.

While funding and a commitment to start has not been secured, the announcement today was two fold: Cleveland has developed a design standard for a mid-road green cycle track (the first in the country), and it has won the support at City Hall. Cleveland supports the Midway, said Planning Director Fred Collier, because it would encourage “a more equitable use” of the road.

The 15 roads include two that would go a long way in forming a bike network that Collier hopes would attract those too timid to bike on the road. They are St. Clair Avenue from the Flats to the city border with East Cleveland and East 55th Street from Slavic Village to the Lakefront (based on informal voting from the 25 or so attendees, they were the clear favorites).

Baker engineer Nancy Lyon Stadtler said the attraction of a center of the road bikeway is to put cyclists away from the path of turning cars. Separate bike signals would offer cyclists a head start. Stadler admitted that smaller segments might not get built first, if at all. Neil at SmithGroup JJR said the Midway plan doesn’t have a price tag yet, but he felt it was significant that the city agreed in concept to re-purposing two lanes of a four lane road for a two-way, 10 foot bike path surrounded by six feet of a green median, and to the design standard. The 15 roads that Cleveland agreed to consider a Midway network of protected cycle tracks include:

  • Buckeye between woodland and OC
  • Chester between E. 13th to UC
  • Community College Ave from E. 22nd to E. 35th street (Tri C)
  • E. 12th Street (meets N-S criteria even though it was recently reconstructed)
  • E. 55th Street -- today it’s very busy but if look at connectivity from lakefront to SV and after the OC it may be feasible to put bike lanes in.
  • Fulton connecting the Zoo
  • Lakeshore Blvd. in Waterloo
  • Lakeside Ave from W. 3rd street east
  • Lorain Ave. picks up where the cycle track has been adopted by Planning commission
  • Payne Ave. downtown from E. 13th to E. 55th - as it crosses interstate no interchanges
  • Pearl Road from brookpark to the Zoo
  • Rocky River Drive from Lorain Ave south to Brookpark
  • St. Clair Avenue East Bank to boundary of the city
  • Superior Public Square to E. 55th
  • Woodland Avenue downtown to MLK

Public meetings for the Midway continue this evening from 6-8 at Fairhill Partners and tomorrow (Thursday) 6-8 at Zone Recreation Center. If you’re not able to attend a meeting, and want to provide input, take the Midway online survey here.

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Marc
1 year ago

John - thanks for your comment. You can post web links to the GCBL site, the trick is to not include the ech tee tee pee colon slash slash

So, here is the link from Copenhagenize that you refer to:

copenhagenize.com/2016/03/bicycle-infrastructure-fails.html

He makes some good points, particularly, how does a center-lane cycle track serve local destinations? I think there might be need for some solutions mid block.

I found some of his rhetoric overheated. For instance, I don't think the plan in Cleveland in any way resembles the "barren wasteland" of the D.C. center bike lanes. For a start, it sounds like they will have quite a bit of green space and the overall effect of it includes reducing the road to two general travel lanes for cars not the five to six lanes of fast moving traffic you see on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. Also, he doesn't mention the advantage of center lane bikeways. If you read studies, like from the Green Lane Project, surveyed cyclists largely felt not having a mixing zone at intersections like you see with cycle tracks positioned at the outside lane, were preferred in terms of "knowing where to be."

As you suggest, it may be that the Midway focuses on providing really pleasant crosstown transportation. In more local serving areas, perhaps bike lanes at outside lanes would be best.

John Wirtz
1 year ago

This is a creative idea, but we should think hard about whether or not the median is the most convenient space for cyclists. It might be good for longer distance riding, but if you're trying to access a destination, which is obviously located to the outside of the roadway, it may not work so well.

The website Copenhagenize posted a critique of DC's center-running protected bike lanes on March 15, 2016. I'd post a link, but it appears to be not allowed by gcbl.

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