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Cleveland Council considers Complete and Green Streets

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/15/11 @ 11:00am  |  Posted in Transportation choices, Transform

· A joint committee of Cleveland City Council (Transportation + Sustainability) will hear the case for a Complete and Green Streets ordinance for city-built projects today at 1 p.m. at City Hall (open to the public). The committee is looking for testimony from cyclists, health advocates, seniors, the disabled and others impacted by designs that promote safer streets for all modes of transportation.

Euclid Avenue (pictured right) is Cleveland's best example of a complete street; Euclid is designed for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and drivers equally. It happened, but the route was filled with time and resources wasted as city officials and bike advocates had to beat back attempts to kill new ideas. A complete streets ordinance is not a panacea, but it will be a giant step forward; it promises to codify good multi-modal design and engineering at the city, and for that Cleveland deserves recognition in taking the lead among municipal governments in Northeast Ohio.

The Cleveland ordinance as proposed is slightly different from most cities, such as the MORPC policy and the 2007 Columbus resolution.

First, it adds complexity by marrying Complete and Green Streets (i.e. natural stormwater management). Second, it would adopt a more restrictive $1 million cap on both Complete and Green streets elements when compared to a broader 20% cap on complete streets as Ohio's capital mandates.

The grassroots voice for Cleveland's sustainable transportation efforts, SC2019 STAT, generally supports the passage of the Complete and Green Streets ordinance, but it did put forth an official position with some caveats that they feel conform to the best practices as exhibited in cities around the nation that have adopted Complete Streets. Among the caveats: "The dollar amount provision in the 'financial hardship' exemption (Section 6.b) is arbitrary and should be removed (the percent of total project cost provision is more appropriate)."

Is the contention between $1 million or a 20% cap missing the point? A 20% match would be a hardship for the city on large road project like the $8 million Opportunity Corridor if the project's bike lanes and green infrastructure are not included in the general construction cost. Not to downplay the importance of the $1 million versus the 20% cap – if the city fears it cannot afford to do complete and green streets at 20% of total, especially on large projects, the bike/ped/health community needs to be at the table explaining why it's a necessary (and common) investment.

Ultimately, how well the policy is written after the ordinance is passed, and how aggressive the city is in adopting new street design guidelines (like this one) that fully embrace complete and green streets will determine how well it does integrating many of the costs. Ultimately, the difference between MORPC and Cleveland's point of view may be in the (important) details–are complete and green streets seen as add ons or are they essential to how roads are built in urban environments, thus prevent them from adding up and making it possible to improve the safety and accessibility of all city streets. See the STAT Group's Complete Streets educational flier.

· NOACA needs volunteers to help conduct its annual bicycle counts the week of September 12th. NOACA multi-modal planner Marc Von Allmen explains, the program helps the region's transportation agency:

  • Measure the use of existing bikeways
  • Estimate the public demand for more bike facilities
  • Set priorities for proposed bike projects and suggest future project locations
  • Create policies for spending public dollars effectively for all travel modes

To sign up for a bike count time slot, go here.

· Some sustainability events this week

Ready, Set, Summit!

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson hosts the third annual Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit on September 22nd and 23rd (apply online). This Tuesday, August 16 at the Tasting Room at Great Lakes Brewing Company, join the E4S Network as it explore how organizations and individuals are participating in SC2019. Panelists include director of GreenCityBlueLake Insitute David Beach, and director of sustainability at the Cleveland Clinic, Christina Vernon. Attend this pre-summit briefing to learn how you can get engaged and participate in the work of the Mayor's Summit in September.

Green Wade Oval Wednesday

This week's "Green WOW" (August 17, 6-9 p.m.) features earth friendly educational activities, tours of Cleveland Museum of Natural History's PNC SmartHome Cleveland, and the "Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet" exhibition on Wade Oval. Live music, farmer's market and family friendly fun.

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