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Plans for Cleveland's bike friendliness

Marc Lefkowitz  |  07/18/08 @ 9:37am

What will make Cleveland more of a Bicycle Friendly Community? The city may have earned an honorable mention as a 'BFC' from the League of American Bicyclists this past May (during Cleveland Bike Week), but the national group says the city still has a long way to go. The League recently supplied the city with a four-page list of priority improvements that would move it up the ranks to BFC-Bronze or higher.

"Set an ambitious, attainable target to increase the percentage of trips made by bike in the community," the League urges. Currently, less than ½ of 1 percent of trips to work are done by bike in Cleveland. "This number should be increased significantly in order to demonstrate bicycle friendliness."

Beyond recognition, Cleveland is interested in adopting the 'bike friendliness' list as its agenda for making cycling a real transportation option, says Martin Cader at Cleveland City Planning.

Miles of new bike lanes are one measures of bike friendliness, but just as important is how safe people feel cycling on city streets. Cleveland (and Cuyahoga County) can boost safety by traditional means-re-educating adults how to ride a bike safely on the street and offering special BikeEd training during driver's education courses and to bus and truck drivers. Cleveland can also adopt innovative programs like Chicago's Bike Buddies. There, 240 ambassadors make house calls-bike commuting along with people from their home and teaching basic bike maintenance.

Agenda items are categorized under the 'Five E's'-Engineering, Education, Encouragement and Enforcement. (Read more).

Topping the League's list of what Cleveland needs is a Complete Streets policy. Cader and former EcoCity Cleveland transportation manager Ryan McKenzie drafted a complete streets resolution last year - calling for all new road construction projects to routinely include amenities for cyclists and pedestrians - but city council has yet to consider it.

"We started circulating it and then it fell off the radar, but we plan to revisit it over the next year," Cader says.

The city was recognized for installing 500 bike racks and for efforts like Cleveland Bicycle Week, Ray's Indoor Bike Park and the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op, which "demonstrate a growing bicycling culture in the city."

Cleveland is also applying to be one of the cities considered for bike/pedestrian pilot projects if Congress reauthorizes them in the 2010 transportation bill. The city submitted its case statement which explains what it would do with an estimated $50 million. One idea is to entice people to leave their car at home by building enough bike trails so that all residents are within a 10-minute bike ride of a trail linked to a major employment center. The city is working on the plans and has set a deadline of 2014 for this goal.

Funding could also address the League's suggestion to "Expand the bicycle network and increase network connectivity through the use of bike lanes, shared lane arrows and signed routes. On-street improvements coupled with the expansion of the off-street system will continue to increase use and improve safety."

How would you improve Cleveland and Cuyahoga County's bike friendliness?

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