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Transportation : For Good

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volunteers needed for tall ship festival sailing into town this july

The Tall Ships are sailing back into the Cleveland harbor this summer, and are going to need some volunteers to stay afloat.

Okay, nobody will be hoisting the mizzenmast or lifting any bales, but there is a call for greeters, ticket takers, crowd control marshals, hospitality workers, docents, and more once the four-day event kicks off on July 3.

The Tall Ships Festival, returning to the lakefront for the first time since 2010,  is being organized and presented by the Rotary Club of Cleveland with support from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. Some 500 enthusiastic volunteers are needed to ensure everything runs swimmingly, says Rotary Club member Edward Thomas.

"We can use people to carry water, help people get off and on boats, and drive ship crew members to the grocery store," Thomas says. "Virtually anything that's needed to be done, a volunteer is needed to help out."

Volunteers need to be 18-or-over and available for a minimum of two shifts between July 3 and 8, note festival organizers. Applicants can sign up on the festival website.

The family-friendly happening will bring a dozen replica historic vessels, showcasing the Great Lakes' great past and allowing visitors to experience the heritage these historic ships symbolize, says Thomas. Officials expect about 100,000 visitors for the event.

"It's always good to be around something where there's lots of energy and excitment," Thomas says. "It will be a great experience for those willing to help us bring life to the lakefront."

 
SOURCE: Edward Thomas
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth 

sailing program provides youth a week of hard work, adventure aboard a tall ship

Nautical adventure awaits Cleveland youths this summer thanks to Project YESS (Youth Empowered to Succeed through Sailing), a program that allows local students to spend a week sailing and working on a 150-foot tall vessel.

The program, developed by the Rotary Club of Cleveland, is meant for high school students ages 13 to 17. Starting this year, teenagers will develop leadership and navigational proficiencies during a six-week land-based course. Graduates will then ply the Great Lakes aboard a tall ship, using the skills they learned to become a vital member of their on-board community. Lake-faring activities include reading charts, working in the galley and tying ropes.

"They are physically part of the crew,"  says Project YESS co-chair Anne Kelly. "All of them are sharing in responsibilities and duties from port to port."

The program started in 2010 in conjunction with the Tall Ships Festival. A group of volunteers help raise the $1,500-per-student fee, which includes curriculum materials, meals, and cost of berth. Students with strong leadership skills but who otherwise would not be able to afford the experience are targeted by Project YESS members.

"The kids hold each other accountable and teach one another to step up," Kelly says.

Project officials hope to bring the youth sailing camp experience to 35 students this year. Along with providing direction, confidence and a sense of community, the program can also open students’ eyes to the unique career opportunities that exist in the Great Lakes region, maintains Kelly.

To receive an application for the Project YESS 2013 class, email projectyess@yahoo.com. Applications must be mailed to the Rotary Club of Cleveland by March 15.

 
SOURCE: Anne Kelly
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

cleveland bike advocates make push for bike-sharing network

That's no crass come-on, but rather an effort to advocate for a Cleveland-based bike-sharing network that has become popular in a number of U.S. cities. For a small fee, bike sharing allows patrons to rent a bike at self-service sites scattered about a city, then return the bike to another site.
 
Cleveland's Office of Sustainability recently issued a request to conduct a feasibility and implementation study on the service. Minneapolis, Chicago and Chattanooga, Tenn., are among the cities that have recently launched a bike-sharing network.
 
The local push is being fronted by Bike Cleveland, a group that advocates for the rights of the local cycling community. Earlier this year, the organization teamed with University Circle Inc. and other groups to form a Bike Share Task Force.
 
By providing greater access to bikes, bike-share programs can help increase the number of people biking, decrease the amount of pollutants in the air and improve community health, says Jacob VanSickle, executive director of Bike Cleveland.

"The city has stepped up," he says of the effort. "We have to determine the model that would work in Cleveland."
 
VanSickle would like to see bike-sharing docks placed at locations with high-density populations and job rates, including rapid stations, Public Square, college campuses and the Cleveland Clinic. The bikes would typically be used for short trips -- an office worker taking a bus to Public Square, for example, could use the automated bike station instead of taking another bus to his ultimate destination.
 
Trips of less than 30 minutes would be free of charge. Those using the service more frequently could pay $50 to $70 become annually. They would be charged a fee for treks longer than a half hour.
 
Promoting bike sharing is part of creating a culture that makes a city more attractive, says VanSickle. Along with the bike-sharing program, Bike Cleveland has been advocating for bike lanes and other cycling-friendly amenities. The group plans to keep the wheels turning until more progress is made.
 
"Cities with the bike-sharing program are seen as more livable and friendly," says VanSickle. "That's something we can gain from in Cleveland."

 
SOURCE: Jacob VanSickle
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

new event aims to put flats' rivergate on map as a recreation destination

Mention Rivergate Park in the Flats in conversation and you'll likely be met with blank looks. Yet an eclectic alliance of skateboarders, cyclists and urban recreation groups are trying to change that with Rollin' on the River, an event that aims to put Rivergate on the map as a recreation destination.

Rollin' on the River, which takes place Saturday, September 29th at 1785 Merwin Avenue, will bring together skateboarding, cycling and music for an afternoon of fun.

"A lot of change has come to the Flats over the summer and 2013 will hold even more," said Vince Frantz, Executive Director of the skateboarding advocacy organization Public Square Group, in a release. "We wanted to celebrate that and highlight the amazing recreation organizations doing awesome work in the city.”

Rivergate Park is a new, 2.4-acre Cleveland Metropark that lies adjacent to the Columbus Road bridge along the Cuyahoga River in the Flats. The Cleveland Rowing Foundation also owns acreage there which includes its boathouse. In the coming months, there are big plans for this small slice of urban waterfront.

The City of Cleveland will break ground on the long-awaited Crooked River Skatepark by the end of the year. The Metroparks also plans to develop its new park and offer programming that will include adventure sports, canoeing and kayaking. Rivergate Park is already home to the Head of the Cuyahoga regatta race, the Ohio City Bike Co-op and the Cleveland Dragon Boat Association.

The free, all-ages event starts at 2 p.m. with a pop-up skateboard park, dragon boat rides on the river, live music, beer and food. Bike Cleveland is also organizing rides to Rivergate, and a contest will be held for the best bike carrier for a skateboard.


Source: Vince Frantz
Writer: Lee Chilcote

this friday's critical mass ride to be largest yet, with 500-plus expected

The phenomenon of 400-plus cyclists riding past East 4th Street, where diners at Lola and other high-end restaurants have valet-parked their cars, is not something you see every day in Cleveland.

But you do see it once a month -- the last Friday of the month, to be exact. That's when Cleveland Critical Mass, a free monthly ride in which cyclists travel en masse through the streets of downtown and other city neighborhoods, kicks off from Public Square at 7 p.m. Riders normally conclude at a low-key tavern, where the revelry continues.

The Friday, July 27th Critical Mass event, which coincides with a new, day-long event dubbed Car-Free Friday, promises to be one of the biggest yet. Organizer Shawn Mariani, who works at Parker Hannifin, hopes to best the 500 mark.

"When I joined Critical Mass in 2008, we had about 5 to 10 people," says Mariani. "Just through word of mouth, social networking and the Internet, we've been able to grow it based on people going out, having a good time and bringing friends."

Mariani says Critical Mass is a non-intimidating ride that encourages people to get on their bikes and patronize local businesses in the city. "It's a safe ride and all riders are welcome," he says. "We get people on tandems and BMX bikes, too. It's a way to meet people and see parts of the city you might not see otherwise."

This Friday's ride will wrap up at the Cleveland Velodrome. Riders are also invited to check out the Street Repair music festival at East 55th and Broadway Ave.


Source: Shawn Mariani
Writer: Lee Chilcote

cleveland carbon fund awards grants to expand backyard composting, other green projects

The Cleveland Carbon Fund has announced three grant awards totaling $15,000 for 2012, including an ambitious effort to increase the number of bike commuters in Cleveland, a backyard composting initiative in Tremont, and a project to make homes in the Central neighborhood more energy-efficient.

Bike Cleveland's project, Creating a Mode Shift, will provide riders with the tools, tips and advice on how to commute to work in Cleveland. The effort includes a commuter challenge in which individuals and teams can compete and win prizes, a guide to navigating bike commuting, and outreach to employers to help incentivize more employees to ride to work.

Tremont West Development Corporation will initiate a Residential Composting Program that will distribute bins to local residents, encourage participants to reduce their waste, and track how much is saved from landfills. The program is offered in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District.

Burton Bell Carr Development Corporation's project, Heritage View Model Block Sustainability Program, will make homes in the Central neighborhood more energy-efficient by switching out incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs, adding sink aerators, and installing low-flow shower heads.

The Cleveland Carbon Fund was created in 2009 by the City of Cleveland, Green City Blue Lake Institute at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Gund Foundation, Cleveland Foundation and Cleveland Clinic. Its goal, as Carbon Fund Fellow Joanne Neugebauer puts it, is to "think globally, green locally." The Carbon Fund is the first community-based, open-access fund in the U.S.


Source: Joanne Neugebauer
Writer: Lee Chilcote

trails and greenways conference aims to set goals for regional trail system

When the Cleveland Clinic decided to expand its offices at the Independence Technology Center, it cited the nearby presence of the planned Hemlock Trail as one of the reasons behind its investment.

To Dave Linchek of the West Creek Preservation Committee, who has worked for years to make the Hemlock Trail a reality, that's further evidence that Northeast Ohio's trails and greenways not only add to our quality of life, but also enhance our bottom line.

Linchek and other trail advocates created the Greater Cleveland Trails and Greenways Conference in 2010 to bring together leaders for networking, discussion and collaboration. The second biennial conference on Wednesday, June 6th, has elevated the regional discussion to the next level, says Linchek.

"There are a multitude of individual trail plans out there, but we want to spell out our goals as a region," says Linchek. While many cities agree trails are important, they may lack the funding, know how and political will to build them, he says.

Some of the most exciting developments in Northeast Ohio include the proposed Lake Link Trail from the Towpath to Whiskey Island; the section of the Towpath from Steelyard Commons to the Flats that is being developed; the city of Cleveland's renewed focus on bicycle and pedestrian planning; and the Metroparks' newfound openness to creating mountain bike trails.


Source: Dave Linchek
Writer: Lee Chilcote

midtown cleveland celebrates the reinvention of its thriving neighborhood

Technology, health care, food, and rock and roll: These are just a few of the industries flourishing in the eclectic Midtown neighborhood, its leaders told a sold out crowd at the Midtown Cleveland Inc. annual meeting at the InterContinental Hotel.

Key accomplishments within the past year include a successful lawsuit that stopped the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) from closing Innerbelt ramps until a study has been completed; breaking ground on several new projects within the Health-Tech Corridor; securing a commitment for a new Third District police headquarters on Chester Avenue; facilitating the redevelopment of the historic Agora Theatre; and completing a new plan to transform the East 55th and Euclid intersection into a more vibrant downtown for the neighborhood.

"We are succeeding in reinventing MidTown Cleveland," said Director Jim Haviland.

"A healthy urban core helps all boats to rise, and MidTown is an example," said Len Komoroski, President of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena, during a keynote address that touted the Cavs' investment in Cleveland. Komoroski said the Cavs had spent millions renovating Quicken Loans Arena into a "dynamic urban environment" that attracted people to visit downtown.

Komoroski shrugged off concerns that the new Horseshoe Casino would be a self-contained facility whose visitors would not spend money elsewhere in Cleveland. "This is a decidedly knit-into-the-urban-environment casino," he said. As an example of the spillover benefits of a casino that Komoroski claimed is "underserved from a food and beverage perspective," he cited the fact that Michael Symon recently tweeted about a record night at Lola on East 4th.


Source: Jim Haviland, Len Komoroski
Writer: Lee Chilcote

bike month will be a wild ride with over 50 cleveland events

May is National Bike Month, but locally the party kicked off last week at Respect the Bike, an all-Ohio-made bike showcase held at the Greenhouse Tavern. Before the event, hundreds of riders cruised through downtown for a traffic-stopping Critical Mass ride, then lined up their bikes along E. 4th Street for a rooftop bar celebration. Elsewhere in the Tavern, diners feted on chef Sawyer's creations as historic bikes hung in the air like flying machines.

It was a fitting start to a month packed with over 50 bike-centric events, including art shows, bike repair clinics, Towpath pajama rides, neighborhood bike rides and the region-wide Bike to Work Day.

Bike Month also includes two special events that benefit good causes. For the first time ever, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is opening its grounds to bicycles during Wild Ride at the Zoo, a new after-hours event. Bike for the Beck is a new fundraising ride for the Beck Center in Lakewood on May 19th.

The City Club is also hosting an event with Mark Gorton, Founder and Chairman of Open Plans, entitled Rethinking the Auto: Building Cities for People, Not Cars. The forum takes place on Wednesday, May 9th, and Bike Cleveland is hosting a free social afterwards at Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City.

Finally, there perhaps is no better way to kick off Bike Month than with the announcement of an exciting new project. This week, Fast Track Cycling broke ground on the Cleveland Velodrome, a massive, 166-meter outdoor cycling track in Slavic Village. The bike track will initially be a seasonal facility, but organizers hope to eventually raise enough money to enclose it for the winter months.


Source: Bike Cleveland
Writer: Lee Chilcote

respect the bike showcases ohio's rich history of two-wheeled inventiveness

Travis Peebles, who co-owns Blazing Saddle Cycle, displays a Roadmaster bicycle that was made about 80 years ago by the Cleveland Welding Company, located at W. 117th and Berea Road. The rusted, 40-pound bike is not for sale, yet it adorns the shop as a proud reminder of cycling's rich local history.

It is perhaps a little known fact that both Cleveland and Ohio have a rich history in the annals of bike history (those crazy Wright brothers started it all with a Dayton bike shop, after all). Our region's tradition of making bicycles is intertwined with our manufacturing history. That deep tradition will be on display this Friday, April 27th at the Greenhouse Tavern during "Respect the Bike: Ohio Built with Ohio Pride," an exhibition of historic and contemporary Ohio bike builders.

"Cleveland and Ohio were huge springboards for cycling," says Peebles. "From the 1890s through the 1900s, there were tons of bikes that were made in Cleveland."

Respect the Bike will feature a wide range of bicycles from pre-1900 bikes made in Northeast Ohio to contemporary bikes built by local, entrepreneurial frame builders such as Rust Belt Welding, Carmen Gambino and Dan Polito.

Peebles, who admits to being "borderline obsessed" with hunting for old bicycles and makes a living restoring '70s and '80s era steel bikes, partnered with the Greenhouse Tavern because of its commitment to local foods and cycling.

Respect the Bike is also billed as a kick-off to Cleveland Bike Month, which takes place in May. Attendees are encouraged to ride their bikes to the event and participate in the monthly Critical Mass ride at Public Square beforehand.


Source: Travis Peebles
Writer: Lee Chilcote

bike cleveland will serve as hub for cyclists and cycle advocacy

The newly minted nonprofit Bike Cleveland will bring together Northeast Ohio cyclists through cycling events, educational programming and advocacy work, says Jacob Van Sickle, the group's new Executive Director. The group also will provide area cyclists with a unified voice in transportation planning across the region.

Over the course of the next year, Bike Cleveland plans to focus on prioritizing bike investments in the West Shoreway project, collaborating with the City of Cleveland to update and prioritize its Bikeway Master Plan, creating fun biking events and advocating for cyclist-friendly policies throughout the region.

One of the group's first advocacy projects will be to rally against HR 7, the transportation bill that has been proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives. That bill would eliminate dedicated funding for transportation, cut funding that helps to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and shortchange funding for repairing existing roads and bridges and improving roadways for cyclists.

For several years, Cleveland's cycling community has been fragmented among different organizations. The launch of Bike Cleveland last summer and now the hiring of Van Sickle unites cyclists under a common banner for the first time.

Van Sickle says Cleveland's energized cycling community has a lot ot be proud of. The 2010 American Community Survey shows that .8 percent of Clevelanders now use a bicycle as their primary mode of transportation to work -- a figure well above the national average of .53 percent. This is a 280-percent increase over one decade, giving Cleveland the highest 10-year increase in the country.

“I am looking forward to working with current and future Bike Cleveland members, and the greater cycling community, to continue to grow the cycling movement in Greater Cleveland," said Van Sickle in a press release.


Source: Jacob Van Sickle
Writer: Lee Chilcote

public square group to open office, indoor skate park in midtown

Public Square Group, a nonprofit organization that promotes skateboarding and skate parks as tools for redeveloping urban neighborhoods, engaging youth in positive activities and promoting active lifestyles, is opening an office and indoor skatepark in the MidTown neighborhood of Cleveland.

The new office and skatepark, which has been dubbed "Skate Kitchen," will be located in the historic Cadillac Building at E. 30th and Chester, adjacent to Jakprints. Skate Kitchen will be open 24/7 for higher-level donors, as well as for special events, contests and lessons.

"We wanted to move our offices into Cleveland because so many of our projects and members are in the city," says Vince Frantz, Executive Director of Public Square Group. "For our higher-level donors, instead of a mug or a sticker, they'll get a key to the Skate Kitchen. After the kids are in bed, they can come down and skate for a few hours."

The move will allow the Public Square Group to further expand its portfolio of projects in Northeast Ohio, says Frantz. He estimates that there are 10,000 active skateboarders across the region. The City of Cleveland is already ahead of the curve in embracing skateboarding as a tool for urban development, he says, citing as examples the skateboard parks planned in the Flats and Slavic Village.

Public Square Group also will continue to run the Skate Kitchen Truck, which pops up in various Cleveland neighborhoods offering mobile skate spots and demos.


Source: Vince Frantz
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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