and Detroit Shoreway
might become the first communities in Cleveland -- indeed, Northeast Ohio -- to develop protected bike lanes. Such bike lanes are located in the road yet provide a barrier such as a raised curb to separate bikes and cars. While protected bike lanes have been implemented in other cities, they're only now beginning to enter the lexicon of Northeast Ohio planning agencies.
They're being proposed as part of a new streetscape plan
for Lorain Avenue that runs between W. 25th and W. 85th streets. The plan also includes a new median between W. 28th and W. 32nd -- the area by St. Ignatius campus -- to calm traffic and make crossing easier. Curb bump-outs might be built on the south side of the street to shorten crossing distances and make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Ohio City Inc. Director Eric Wobser says the new streetscape would capitalize on growing interest in cycling on the near west side and throughout Cleveland and build off momentum generated by the new Lorain-Carnegie bridge bike path. It also would make the area safer for pedestrians and attract new businesses.
"Protected bike lanes have been shown to be a best practice
that keep cyclists safer," says Wobser. "We also see this creating a more vibrant Lorain; the cyclists could slow down and potentially stop at a business on Lorain."
Currently, Lorain functions as a two-lane road with two parking lanes for 20 hours a day, and a four-lane road with no on-street parking during rush hour. The plan eliminates parking on the north side of the street and makes Lorain a two-lane street. It also establishes a center turn lane at Fulton and other intersections.
The new streetscape would also feature permeable paving in the parking lane and additional landscaping and trees on both sides of the street.
Wobser says that the plan can be accomplished by removing parking on the south side of the street except between W. 24th and W. 26th Streets. In this area, a recommendation for how to accommodate cyclists will be made during the design phase.
While eliminating parking often is controversial, Wobser believes there is adequate parking in the plan and says it was the first choice of the streetscape steering committee, which consists of residents, business owners and institutions.
Jacob VanSickle of Bike Cleveland says there is demand for protected bike lanes, which could help get more bike commuters on the roads: "The bike counts for Detroit and West 25th are one of the highest in the region. Looking at NOACA's numbers shows there is indeed an increase in people biking. The most recent report by the League of American Cyclists shows a 385% increase in bike commuters in Cleveland from 1990-2010 (that is higher than Seattle during the same time period)."
The next step is to present the plan at a public meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, December 10th at 6 p.m. at Franklin Circle Church, and garner feedback. Ohio City Inc. and Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization then intend to seek approval from the City Planning Commission.
Wobser says the city has committed $1 million of its capital budget to the project, and Councilman Joe Cimperman has committed $100,000. The total project cost is about $17 million, and the groups will apply for funding from the State of Ohio, NOACA and other sources.
Lorain Avenue has seen increased development in recent years, and new projects currently underway include Hansa House, Platform Brewing Company and JC Beertech, and Jack Flaps Urban Breakfast Shoppe.
Sponsors of the Launch Lorain effort include Ohio Savings Bank, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Saint Ignatius High School and Councilmen Cimperman and Matt Zone. Bike Cleveland has also been a partner in the project.
Source: Eric Wobser
Writer: Lee Chilcote