Would you be more likely to bike from the Near West Side to downtown Cleveland if you knew a protected bike path was waiting for you on the sidewalk of Ontario Street? Would you bike your family down to a day game or convince your date who’s a little wobbly on two wheels to take the bike path on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge if it linked up to a bike path in front of Progressive Field and The Q?
A green lane for less ‘road warrior’ types would attract more people on bikes to downtown by making the bustling Gateway District easier to navigate. It’s the premise behind the Ontario Street Bikeway, a plan prepared by Bike Cleveland, GreenCityBlueLake (GCBL) and the Cleveland Urban Design Center (CUDC).
“We developed an alternative—that can be implemented immediately—to connect people on bikes safely from the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge to the Cleveland Bike Rack,” Bike Cleveland explains.
The regional bike advocacy group released a position statement calling for bike lanes on Ontario Street during its recent repaving. The group also sees how the Lorain-Carnegie bike path entices cyclists who feel more comfortable riding separated from the road by a physical barrier like a curb. Ontario Street has a tremendously wide sidewalk in front of the ball parks.
Bike Cleveland presented the plan for a protected bikeway recently to Historic Gateway District and executives with the professional sports teams. Their support came with a caveat: The bikeway is painted in the sidewalk space owned by the city (located between the curb and a row of planters), and not in their sidewalk space (between the planters and the buildings), says Bike Cleveland executive director Jacob Van Sickle.
The Ontario bikeway plan was also presented to high-ranking officials at Cleveland City Hall. Building public support may be the next, most important step to securing a green lane on Ontario. For that purpose, Bike Cleveland set up a webpage with the plan and to gather feedback.
Details about alignment and relocating exactly four light poles, a fire hydrant and an advertising kiosk were worked out by GCBL and Bike Cleveland who hired CUDC to perform a detailed study and produce a plan. The cost estimate of $70,000 includes moving city infrastructure, and painting a green lane on Ontario Street that would start at Eagle Avenue, a road that bisects the stadia but is closed to vehicles and bikes on game days. The bike path would provide 2,500 feet of protected space on the east sidewalk of Ontario, ushering cyclists to where it crosses Huron Road. The project includes a 250-ft. paved path and improvements in a grassy area at the northeast corner of Huron and Ontario that would connect cyclists to the Bike Rack, a bike parking station at 2148 E. 4th Street, and to popular E. 4th Street destinations and Euclid Avenue, a more sedate road with bike lanes.
In 2012, a multi-use path was installed on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge and a broad, pedestrian promenade where it touches down at Carnegie and Ontario. The path and promenade have attracted cyclists, joggers and pedestrians.
Concurrent to the Ontario Bikeway effort, Bike Cleveland is working with Ohio City, Inc. to create a protected bikeway (sometimes called a green lane or cycle track) on Lorain Avenue, slated for construction next year. At a recent public meeting, initial designs for the street called for bike lanes on both sides of the road. But the area is populated by families who want safe bike facilities. Residents and Bike Cleveland asked Ohio City, Inc. to engage the design consultants to explore consolidating the lanes in to a protected, two-lane cycle track on the north side of Lorain Avenue, from W. 25th Street to W. 80th Street. Oftentimes physically separated from traffic by a barrier such as plastic bollards, cycle tracks provide a greater sense of protection for less experienced riders, and have proven attractive to new cyclists.
In making a case for a cycle track on Lorain Avenue, a large stretch of the Near West Side of the city would gain a protected bike way that links — to the bridge path and the Ontario Street bikeway — to the heart of downtown Cleveland. In two easy and relatively inexpensive steps, the city would create a nearly 4-mile protected bikeway that vastly improves the network for bikers at all skill levels, and leverage the big investment in the bridge path.
GreenCityBlueLake would like to thank Fairmount Minerals for funding that helps us foster the creation of design graphics for this project.