Cleveland’s marathon pursuit of its first separated bike lane (aka “cycle track”) passed two very important hurdles last night, and is ready to enter the home stretch.
Ohio City, Inc. Executive Director Tom McNair told a full room at the Urban Community School that a two-way separated bike lane has come forward in the final recommendations of the Living Lorain Plan, which he described as a complete street.
At the upper end of the menu of options, Lorain would undergo a road diet—going from its current, indeterminate 4-lanes (most of the time the curb lane is filled with on-street parking) into a two-lane road plus a cycle track on the section between W. 25th to W. 65th streets. The full complete street treatment would include landscaping and specially designed intersections, possibly with bike signals. The price estimate is $16.8 million.
The options range down from there to at least a “four-to-three” lane road diet with a bike facility on the side with an estimated cost of $8.8 million.
The first hurdle cleared: McNair reported that, at a meeting with city of Cleveland officials last November, the city granted initial approval—to a design similar to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Indy’s raised, specially colored “trail” runs for miles through its downtown and still stands as the country’s premier (if not its most expensive) example of a hybrid of trail and bike lane.
City officials visited and rode the Indy Cultural Trail last year. McNair says they were impressed by the sanguinity of the mayor who says he fields calls from businesses insisting on space on the Trail.
“The economic impact of the Cultural Trail is staggering,” McNair says. “The city’s latest study shows it has generated as much as 177% increase in sales for some of the businesses located on the Trail.”
The second hurdle cleared: Ohio City, Inc. hired traffic engineering firm Michael Baker International to perform traffic studies on the road diet with cycle track. Baker Traffic Engineer Nancy Lyon-Stadler reported that concerns about how a newly configured Lorain would do on a Department of Transportation metric called Level of Service were assuaged by a traffic study which predicts Lorain will get a very accepted “C” grade.
The Living Lorain Plan will seek Planning Commission approval, and get in line for the city’s Capital Improvement budget. Although its price tag sounds high, consider the city has approved big ticket capital projects in recent times, including a $25 million pedestrian bridge from the Mall to the lakefront. The good to come out of last night is the Lorain cycle track is following the official process, and, in passing most of the technical hurdles, is ready to be built as soon as the funding is secured.