Blog › A plan emerges to connect Cleveland and suburbs with greenways and bike trails


A plan emerges to connect Cleveland and suburbs with greenways and bike trails

Marc Lefkowitz  |  10/31/13 @ 4:00pm  |  Posted in Biking, Connecting to nature

Does your city make you sick? Cuyahoga County and Cleveland expect to find out where are the greatest health disparities within the region. Their $100,000 Health Impacts Assessment (HIA) is looking at a range of social and environmental conditions—from crime to roads—since they are stronger indicators of health than genetics, says Martha Halko at the county Board of Health.

Shaker Lakes <br />An urban park between Cleveland and Shaker Heights has some trailsLake to Lakes Trail<br />Linking University Circle and ShakerOpportunity knocks<br />Belvoir Road in South Euclid and University Heights could be ideal for a greenway and bike trailThe eastside connection<br />City of Euclid is looking to link Euclid Creek Metropark with the lakefrontRails to trails<br />Cleveland converted an old rail line to a bike trail in Slavic Village

The results could color the work of a group that includes the Cleveland Metroparks interested in building a network of greenways and bike infrastructure (trails, lanes, sharrows) linking Cleveland and 13 eastern suburbs.

Similar to its 2008-2012 life expectancy study—which discovered a 20-year disparity between parts of Cleveland and its suburbs—the County will suss out who has the safest walking routes, well-stocked grocery stores, high quality, mixed-income housing and parks and who has the most ‘unhealthy community’ factors like, where it is unsafe even in daylight to walk and bike.

Euclid did a HIA as a precursor to a redevelopment plan for Euclid Avenue which has been hollowed out because of sprawl and big box retail. Twenty-six percent of households in six Census tracts around Euclid live below the poverty line.

“What kind of place do we want this to be?” said Jim Sonnhalter a planner who led the study. “We looked at how we can move pedestrians and bikes and transit in an efficient manner.”

It helped determine what do to with intersections and informed RTA’s HealthLine extension study. They also looked at repurposing a sidewalk on E. 222nd Street as a multi-use path connecting Euclid Creek Reservation to a new lakefront park. A detailed plan for the path was produced through a simultaneous Transportation for Livable Communities (TLCI) study. They also looked at how bike paths could improve access to healthy food.

Sonnhalter didn’t offer specifics but confirms the HIA provides metrics that could inform the land use and transportation goals of a city.

The Eastside greenway group is also applying for a TLCI grant that it will cross-reference with the new health study and its ‘best and worst’ indicators.

“What is the equity of a trail?” asked Cleveland city planner Freddie Collier. He went on to answer with a story that his Planning Commission colleagues persuaded him to ride a bike on the Towpath recently—his first venture on two wheels since childhood.

“It changed my outlook,” said Collier, who, it has been speculated, is a candidate for Cleveland Planning Director when current director, Bob Brown, retires. “That ride helped me discover something. How you bring in to view the human impact. The greenway could bridge the land use and health communities.”

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Bike Commuter
7 years ago

My goof, the section of road on which I would like to see a cycle track is Stokes between the rail bridge and Euclid Ave. (or at least Carnegie), so it pretty much is a straight shot --- but, I agree, that motorists drive a reckless speeds through that stretch up to the Heights. So, the answer: Jersey barriers. They don't look pretty but they would keep cyclists separated and safe. I see this as the missing link in bike connections to UC, as the Cedar Glenn Bikeway doesn't help the bike commuter coming from south of Shaker Blvd.

7 years ago

We empathize with the plight of the bike commuter once they reach Cedar-Glen Parkway and Fairhill Road. Both are designed primarily for cars and as such feel like highways during rush hour. What you're suggesting with an on-road bike lane or a path on Fairhill was probably quickly dismissed by the city and its consultants that designed the Lake to Lakes Trail. They probably saw the crazy speeds and winding road and said no way is anyone, even the most fearless cyclist, up for that. Your point about the inconvenience of the Lake to Lakes Trail for the cyclist coming from points north of Shaker may be part of the reason Cleveland Heights will add a bike path on the south side of Cedar-Glen Parkway. Cyclists using the bike lanes on North Park Boulevard will be able to turn right at S. Overlook Road and connect with the Cedar-Glen bike path. Again, when it came time for Cleveland Heights Bike Plan to improve connections between University Circle no bike improvements on Cedar-Glen even made it to the public meeting. Perhaps the planners and consultants themselves could never picture riding on these roads. Do off-road bike paths in the city serve the serious bike commuter as well? Certainly it will take more time, so maybe not. So, how do we make the two most important roads between the city and suburbs safer for cycling? It gets to a larger question of does Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights see the importance of retrofitting these roads to serve thousands of its own residents who bike to work even if it means reusing some space on the road that commuters driving through those cities now use?

Bike Commuter
7 years ago

Instead of having the downhill Lakes to Lake Trail make the dramatic sweep through Ambler Park, it should have continued down Stokes/Fairhill to Carnegie or even Euclid. This could have been accomplished with a bike path in place of the narrow sidewalk along that stretch or by sacrificing one of the motor vehicle lanes along that stretch for a two-way, protected cycle track. Remember that Stoke/Fairhill pinches down from four to three lanes at the rail bridge, and loses that extra capacity without bleeding many cars to Carnegie or Cedar (almost none to Cedar). So, GCBL, how do we get this cheap bike improvement --- which would be beneficial to so many bike commuters coming from the Heights and going to Cleveland Clinic, downtown and UH -- accomplished? The current Lakes to Lake Trail requires so many dangerous crossings and requires folks to cycle through the mud pit under the rail bridge that it really isn't worthwhile for anyone in a hurry.

7 years ago

A couple of observations:

(i) Belvoir Blvd. also travels through Shaker,

(ii) Belvoir Blvd. needs to be widened or lose a motor vehicle lane to be a greenway (it currently is one of those lame "Bike Routes" that only function as a bike route when there is light traffic), and

(iii) the Lakes to Lake Trail is an ok recreational trail and a poorly planned commuting bikeway; it exemplifies what is wrong with bike planning in most cases in Cleveland: it places too much emphasis on "family friendly" recreational riding, instead of providing for those people who would get the most use out of it if it were a more direct and better connected bike commuter route.

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