In Cleveland’s first attempt to be a Bike Friendly Community—an honor that the League of American Bicyclists bestows upon cities that make progress in the five “Es” of bike sainthood (Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation & Planning)—the city didn’t rank higher than an honorable mention.
The city’s Planning Department offered a response in 2010 with its Active Transportation Plan. In it, planners spun a vision for how the city would improve, including big goals like a 180-mile bike way system with the Towpath Trail as its spine. The 2010 plan pointed to policies like Complete Streets (finally passed in 2011), and an ordinance written in 2008 that requires all parking lot operators in the city to install bike racks.
“The Cleveland bicycle parking ordinance will be the tool that finally allows us to provide plentiful, safe and convenient bike parking across the city,” the city plan states.
The Cleveland Bike Parking Ordinance requires parking lot operators to install one bike spot for every 20 car spots with a maximum of 24 bike racks. Existing operators had two years to comply with the law.
But, a review conducted by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) in November 2012 found wide scale non-compliance with the city’s bike parking ordinance at downtown parking operations.
DCA staff inspected parking garages and surface lots in the Gateway and Warehouse districts, Erieview, the Theater District and the civic center and found that only 15 out of 108 lot operators have installed bike racks.
Since parking lots require the city’s annual license of operation, Cleveland has a stick that in could use to enforce the bike parking ordinance.
And, at the prompting of GCBL, the city moved quickly to rectify the situation, mailing a pointed letter demanding that all parking lot and garage operators fall in line.
“Beginning in April (2013), the City will begin to take enforcement action against any licensed parking facilities that are not in compliance with the law,” Bob Brown, Director, Cleveland City Planning Commission wrote in a letter dated March 4.
The letter details the history of outreach including presentations on the bike parking ordinance in 2008 and reminders in 2010 to the Cleveland Parking Association.
Cleveland might also dangle a carrot in the form of a direct education campaign.
To that effect, GreenCityBlueLake conducted a mini-survey of the city’s bike parking ordinance in 2010. At the time, we credited three of downtown’s biggest garages for their bike racks. We encouraged parking lot operators to look to The Cleveland Clinic and its newly installed bike racks at its E. 89th and E. 93rd Street garages for guidance on rack type and placement. And we advised that with an education program, the garages will make the most of this opportunity—install the proper racks, with ample room to use them, and brand themselves as ‘green.’
The city included with the compliance letter a copy of its “Bicycle Parking Guidelines: A set of recommendations from the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals”.
"Safe, secure, covered bike parking is important to continue to encourage more people to ride a bike,” Bike Cleveland executive director Jacob Van Sickle concludes. “Think of it this way, would you drive your car to work if you knew it was going to get vandalized, stolen, or taken away by police because you didn't have a place to park? No. The same is true for people on bikes; they need safe, secure bike parking, which this ordinance requires and parking garages are not complying with."
The city did get some credit from the League of American Bicyclists for installing 500 individual bike racks around Cleveland at schools, recreation centers, and neighborhood retail districts, in 2009. And it will earn points for building, in 2011, The Bike Rack, secured indoor bike parking, with a maintenance shop, bike rentals and shower facilities for individuals commuting to work downtown by bike.
Time will tell, but it is our firm hope that we’re not repeating the same story two years from now.