Has Cleveland’s Complete and Green Streets law changed the way the city designs streets? Evidence is starting to build that the law, passed in 2011, is being applied to major road projects.
But, challenges remain, including local resistance to bike infrastructure and awaited guidance for the city’s traffic engineers who are being asked to adopt new ways of thinking about streets (within the context of a city neighborhood, for example, which isn’t traditionally part of traffic engineers’ training. A design manual is being hammered out by the city’s Complete and Green Streets Task Force).
Apparently word of the city’s Complete Streets law—and what it can mean for community improvement—hasn’t made it to all ears. As a recent public meeting in the city’s far west side illustrates, there is work to be done in educating the public, particularly about how crosswalks, bioswale bump outs or bike lanes can improve conditions, like safety.
At a recent public meeting to introduce a complete street makeover for Triskett Road, a few unruly attendees shouted “go back to the east side” when Bike Cleveland Executive Director Jacob Van Sickle discussed plans for bike lanes between Lorain Avenue and Berea Road. The plan calls for removing on-street parking, and putting the road on a 'classic diet’—reducing four, 10-ft. wide lanes (which are deemed too narrow by ODOT) to three lanes plus bike lanes. Bike lanes give way to Sharrows on Triskett between Berea and W. 117th Street.
Van Sickle recounted the incidence this week, noting that bike lanes are new to some, and change can be scary. But, he adds, usually when a road diet like this goes forward—which he is confident will happen on Triskett—local resistance melts as the results are better looking and safer. Standing with Van Sickle, Cleveland Bike Planner Marty Cader noted that city traffic engineers have already signed off on the Triskett Complete Street. Both admit the ward councilman, who started to whither under resistance, could use support.
Complete and Green Streets will certainly have a high priority on streets that are in the city’s 2007 Bikeway Master Plan, Cader adds. That should help going forward with the city’s plans for a Complete and Green Street on W. 65th Street. A recent presentation calls for bike lanes and green infrastructure in an ambitious makeover for this important north-south connection on the city’s bikeway.
W. 65th Street should be an interesting test of whether the city can indeed strike the necessary balance and achieve all of its goals in the Complete and Green Streets law. During the law’s creation, bike advocates wondered whether the $1 million cap that the city set on itself would create an environment where it would be forced to “value engineer” between the green and complete streets items.
Not helping matters is the state of Ohio. Lawmakers this week rejected an opportunity to help Cleveland leverage its $1 million investment on W. 65th—and going forward on Triskett, on Fleet Avenue in Slavic Village, on Denison and on Detroit Avenue—with a dedicated fund for Transportation Choice. State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) attempted to introduce additional funding for transit and Complete Streets projects, but the amendment failed.
As it is, the city will likely have to choose between bike lanes or bioswales, as $1 million is unlikely to cover the cost of both on these streets. And this is the crux of the problem for Cleveland, and cities that want Complete and Green Streets to be more than an unfunded or partially funded mandate. Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County writes its Complete Streets law, expanding the playing field to the 50+ municipalities who may someday want their own road diets, street trees and bike lanes.
On April 10, the city will host a Complete and Green Streets Public Meeting. This will build off an initial cut at defining complete streets where the city’s Complete and Green Streets Task Force classified streets into 10 different types. The public should weigh in if they will successfully produce Complete and Green Streets (each street type has its own set of priorities for pedestrians, vehicles, transit, cyclists and green infrastructure).
This will be your opportunity to look at the proposed classifications and priorities and to give your feedback and perspective. If you want more facilities (bike lanes, protected bikeways, etc.) that make riding a bike fun and safe you need to be at this meeting.