bike-friendly bridge modifications signal cyclists' growing clout

For more than a year, advocates of multi-modal transportation have lobbied the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to add bike and pedestrian lanes to the new Innerbelt bridge. They lost that fight, yet ODOT agreed to fund a $6 million renovation of the Lorain-Carnegie bridge.

That project, scheduled to be completed next fall, will add a broad, multi-use path on the north side and narrow intersections so they can be crossed more easily. It will also narrow driving lanes from 12 to 11 feet to allow room for bikers, add 'sharrows' that let drivers know they're sharing the road, and install new bike route signs from W. 20th to Abbey Avenue. This once-dicey link to Tremont will be improved with five-foot-wide bike lanes and new, historic-style lighting.

Does this high-profile victory indicate that the bike advocacy community is becoming a political force with which to be reckoned? Marc Lefkowitz, web editor for GreenCityBlueLake at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, thinks so. "When people ask why it's important to have a bike and pedestrian advocacy group, point them to sustainable transportation advocates 'Access for All,' who negotiated a $6 million commitment from ODOT," he blogged recently.

Now, cyclists are building on this victory by forming a new organization, Bike Cleveland, to amplify their voice in Northeast Ohio. "Cleveland needs a single, strong advocacy organization that will bring the cycling community together," explains Jacob Van Sickle, Active Living Coordinator for Slavic Village Development, a regular bike commuter and one of the the group's organizers. To get cyclists involved, Bike Cleveland will hold a kick-off summit on September 10th and 11th at Windows on the River in the Flats.

Yet despite having wind at their backs, cyclists in Cleveland still have a ways to go, as evidenced by Cleveland's recent approval of casino developers' plans to demolish the Columbia building on lower Prospect Ave. It will be replaced with parking, an overhead pedestrian walkway and valet parking for gamblers.

Until recently, this section of Prospect was envisioned as a prime spot for bike- and pedestrian-friendly redevelopment -- plans that opponents of the demolition say were hastily scrapped to satisfy casino developers' demands.

Source: Jacob Van Sickle, Marc Lefkowitz
Writer: Lee Chilcote