For those of you who are unaware, the City of Cleveland is busy striping roads to meet their goal of 70 new miles of bike lanes by the end of 2016. A few projects have caught our attention recently; West 25th Street, Lakeshore Boulevard, and Prospect Ave downtown.
We received word back from the City regarding West 25th, and unfortunately, the word is that they are unwilling to change the curb buffer design citing concerns over right turning movements. Andy Cross, City Traffic Engineer, feels that placing the bikes closer to the cars will improve driver's ability to see the bikes. We have seen the successful implementation of buffer zones between bikes and cars along streets with curb cuts and right turn movements in many other cities, so we immediately reached out to some other traffic engineers around the country to get their opinion.
Unsurprisingly, there is more than one way to stripe a lane, and more progressive engineers disagree with Andy's approach to West 25th and think the buffer should be between the bikes and the cars. We think it's wrong the City simply dismisses the National Association of City Transportation Officials guide to bike lanes despite it being fully endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration. It is frustrating considering better facilities exist elsewhere that manage to buffer the bikes despite the presence of curb cuts. Our fear is that Andy is setting a precedent with his preferred bike lane configuration, and Cleveland will fall further behind as buffered and protected bike lanes become the norm throughout the country. In fact, we saw a plan last night for Lakeshore Boulevard that buffers the curb citing the same fear of right turn conflicts. We want our traffic engineers to be working on the cutting edge of bike lane design rather than defaulting to old concepts rooted in a vehicular cycling mindset. We need buffered and protected bike lanes if we want to grow ridership; 40 years of vehicular cycling has failed to achieve that.
We also got word that Prospect Ave near downtown will be striped with bike lanes from East 22nd to Bolivar. However, terminating the lane at Bolivar is too soon and it should run all the way to Ontario. The Euclid bike lane ends at E. 22nd, so Prospect is an ideal street to continue a bike lane into downtown. Bike lanes all the way to Ontario are proposed in the Step Up Downtown Plan; a plan the City had a hand in creating. The City is proposing sharrows from Bolivar to Ontario citing on street parking as the reason they can't stripe a dedicated lane. Anyone familiar with Prospect already knows how congested it gets, and we think that encouraging people to drive their cars down Prospect looking for one of the relatively small numbers of on-street parking spots is probably a bad idea; especially considering the numerous surface lots and parking garages already within the vicinity. With the existing pedestrian assets of East 4th, the stadiums, and the impending construction of nuCLEus, this is a great opportunity to create a great urban space for people, not cars.
Finally, at the request of the councilman, there was a public meeting regarding the proposed striping plan for Lakeshore Boulevard in Ward 8 that would include a 4 to 3 Road Diet. Rob Mavec from city traffic engineering presented the plan, while Rob Thompson gave a general overview of a 4 to 3 Road Diet and the benefits involved, along with some safety information on how to negotiate the bike lanes for both cars and bikes alike. Overall, the meeting was well attended by local residents and supporters of the updated design. Councilman Polensek is asking for two more meetings on the proposed design; we'll keep you apprised of when those happen.
Building safer streets for people on bikes is important, and this weekend we are once more reminded why. There are two memorial rides happening this weekend -
Saturday:Ride for Miles - an annual non-competitive ride to raise funds for bicycle and environmental education. It is named so for Dr. Miles Coburn who was killed in August 2008 in a bicycle crash.
Sunday: An annual ride in memory of cyclists killed on our streets, named for Sylvia Bingham who was struck and killed by a truck while biking to work in 2009. Details -
Where: West 11th Street & Fairfield in Tremont
When: Sunday, September 15th @ 11am
Route: Ride to Progressive Field where riders will distribute some bike safety materials before heading to the location of Sylvia's white bike on Prospect and East 21st. The ride will conclude at Perk Park on E.12th and Chester with a picnic courtesy of Alex Nosse, owner of Joy Machines Bike Shop in Ohio City.
These rides are a tragic reminder of the reality people face when using our streets. We hope you can join us.
The newest of Cleveland’s film festivals showcases films of adrenaline-driven action sports, engrossing character studies and environmental and cultural issues from around the globe. Bike Cleveland will be there serving beer and wine at the cash bar with the money raised going to fund our advocacy efforts. We hope to see you there for a fun evening!
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