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University Circle to test seven road diets

Marc Lefkowitz  |  05/18/15 @ 11:00am  |  Posted in Vibrant cities, Transportation choices

University Circle will cap the second phase of a sweeping, “Moving Greater University Circle Transportation and Mobility Study” by performing surgery on seven of the most dangerous intersections in the area.

<br />A pedestrian scurrying across East Boulevard near Cedar would benefit from a pilot project to narrow and square off this intersection.<br />Part of the first site of temporary improvements to road safety, closing one of four lanes of MLK at Cedar will be tested.<br />Highway like slip lanes like this one would be temporarily closed under a plan by University Circle to calm traffic and make streets safer.<br />Students from John Hay High School (pictured) plus Case and Cleveland School of the Arts walk and bike in the area.  <br />The plan calls for t-ing off intersections like this one at Mayfield and Euclid the site of MOCA and Uptown.<br />This intersection, at Stokes and Chester, would be normalized or squared off. It is the site of future development.<br />The intersection of East Boulevard and Bellflower will get a large speed hump known as a speed table.<br />The intersection at the top of Cedar Hill between Cleveland and Cleveland Heights will be narrowed and lanes made more predictable.<br />Juniper Road will continue as a one-way street like it is at the end and beginning of semester at Case. <br />This cut through lane known as Liberty would need further study before closing it as recommended for pedestrian safety improvements in University Circle.

After a yearlong study and gathering feedback from more than a thousand people, University Circle, Inc. decided it should immediately deal with some of the worst offenders—where unusually high levels of crashes occur between cars and pedestrians.

Intersections like Cedar and East Boulevard, MLK and Fairhill, Euclid and Mayfield, which were widened in the 1950s and 60s and resulted in too many pedestrian and cyclists imperiled, will be squared off and have lane widths reduced.

The actions, often called “road diets,” enjoy nearly unanimous support from Circle institutions who heard details last week (since we were invited to participate not as a reporter, I will write what the consultants and individuals said without attributing it to sources.).

It was decided to implement, right away, seven of eleven recommendations from Phase Two, which were produced from traffic studies conducted by the New York firm Nelson/Nygaard.

The study is also moving into phase three—implementation and business plan—with a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan to make University Circle a premier walkable district one possible outcome.

“This is a great market for it,” said Nelson/Nygaard Principal, David Fields, “because so many of the cars are making the same trip 4 to 5 days a week.”

Fields and Nelson/Nygaard recently helped Seattle Children’s Hospital launch a TDM plan which he says is well on its way to meeting its goal of reducing evening rush hour car trips by 40 percent.

The improvements around University Circle—narrowing crossing distances with the goal of calming traffic on major arterials—will start with temporary materials like construction barrels until their effectiveness is proved. Some lingering concerns about how Level of Service in the D or E range will affect car travel were expressed.

But, for the most part, the adults in the room, in particular, representatives from Case, expressed that it was their highest priority to confer benefits for the thousands of college and high school students walking and biking in the area. Kids like Jeremy (not actual name) and 40 of his classmates from John Hay High School. Jeremy spoke for them and hundreds of Cleveland School of the Arts students last week. He noted that every day they arrive in University Circle on the Rapid and “scurry across” the unmarked intersection of East Boulevard at the base of Cedar Hill rather than add 10 minutes by crossing four, multi-lane roads.

So, for example, the middle of the two right turn lanes on Cedar Road westbound where it soft curves in front of the new RTA bus loop and creates a situation of obstructed views as vehicles turn into Jeremy and his friends might be closed. The same temporary closures of highway-style “slip lanes” around Euclid, Chester, Stearns and Stokes boulevards are expected to help.

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Kevin LeMaster
5 years ago

This is really an amazing thing, and to be tried on so many intersections at once! The BRT HealthLine was a GREAT idea. I hope it can be made as safe as possible for peds and cyclists in the University Circle area. I haven't been to Cleveland in about 17-18 years, when my friend lived on Clifton Blvd, just outside of Rocky River. Which leads to another story. I need to come up and discover Euclid on my own.

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