ClevelandBikes Letter to ODOT Regarding West Shoreway Proposal

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Fri, 10/27/2006 - 20:28.

Below is nonprofit ClevelandBikes' letter to the Ohio Department of Transportation regarding the ODOT plans for the West Shoreway. Individuals wishing to add their views on the plan can visit the ODOT website ( or email project officers (craig [dot] hebebrand [at] dot [dot] state [dot] oh [dot] us, Lora [dot] Hummer [at] dot [dot] state [dot] oh [dot] us).  

Dear Mr. Hebebrand:  ClevelandBikes is committed to the principal of making Northeast Ohio a more cyclist friendly community. Consequently, we support the concept of restructuring the  shoreway as a low-speed boulevard, with increased north-south neighborhood access to the park and safe and secure bicycling opportunities along the resulting boulevard, feeder streets and other major parallel arterial roads.

However, despite years of work, it's far from clear that the ODOT revisions satisfy these criteria. The following are several important concerns for Cleveland area cyclists. ClevelandBikes attempts to represent the interests of cyclists of all styles and levels of ability. We urge public officials to support and encourage the best and safest cycling practices. ClevelandBikes would like to make the following points:

* ClevelandBikes views the improvement of access between the northern westside and downtown Cleveland as a primary objective of any shoreway improvement.  ODOT must create a safe, secure cycling environment for those riding along the shoreway, parallel roadways like Detroit Avenue and the shoreway feeder routes. If traffic on Detroit Avenue increases s a result of the shoreway changes ,Detroit Avenue may become a less safe cycling route.  No infrastructure change is an improvement if it makes bicycling on all of these roadways less safe.

* In accommodating bicycle traffic, the plan must include the creation of meaningful cycling opportunities for neighborhood families seeking convenient and safe access to the parks and lakefront areas, linking neighborhood destinations, like parks, schools, libraries, residential and retail areas, in a comprehensive network of family friendly routes, as part of and separate from roadways.

* While improving the bicycling environment of Northeast Ohio, ClevelandBikes supports the development of properly designed, constructed and maintained multi-use paths, properly segregated from the roadway. These facilities, can encourage less experienced cyclists to increase riding activities, creating significant health and recreation advantages for residents. However, the development of these off road facilities is no substitute for creating and maintaining safe and effective cycling conditions along the new boulevard, its feeder streets and Detroit Avenue.  It must be understood that a 10 foot wide multiuse path used by pedestrians (often walking two or three abreast), roller bladers, people pushing baby strollers and walking dogs is unsafe for all but the slowest cyclists and does not address the needs of transportation, fitness or recreation cyclists.

Providing for safe and effective cycling is a basic element of any infrastructure change seeking to advance a comprehensive transportation agenda and support the rights of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.  ClevelandBikes supports carefully considered infrastructure changes and a west shoreway plan which advances the objectives described above. However, as we understand it, several elements of the current plan cannot be reconciled with these goals, including:

* Proposed multi-use/shared paths intended to promote enjoyment of the parks and  lakefront that extend a significant distance south of the lakeshore. If the intent is to create opportunities for residents to enjoy the lake, the path should run on the north side of the proposed boulevard;

* Proposed shared access paths, in which steps or other obstructions prohibit true shared access or paths where construction, space allotment or lighting are unsafe.  Construction that promotes water pooling, rather than drainage, or shared lanes that are insufficient and narrow are unproductive reforms from a cycling standpoint.

*  The proposed plan makes no use of an apparently buried pedestrian tunnel under the Norfolk-Southern tracks, which may be a terrific asset to the shoreway neighborhood and the shoreway project. The creation of a new motor vehicle tunnel under the tracks at West 73rd Street, rather than the existing but buried tunnel is a disappointing and wasted opportunity. If the tunnel is not used, the path should still go north of the road by using space in the road underpass.  Routing the path up Cass Avenue creates a more dangerous intersection, particularly for downhill, eastbound cyclists, forcing some cyclists, for instance a week-end recreational family ride, who would prefer an off road path into the roadway.

* Under the ODOT road plan, insufficient width has been allocated to the curb lane, which is the default cycling lane for the new boulevard. The most suitable facility for higher speed cyclists is the roadway and the best way to provide accommodation is to make the outside  lane at least 14 feet wide. Parking should be restricted beside the road to prevent car door opening hazards that intrude into the cyclist's space.  Further, to prevent motorist confusion regarding a cyclists presence on the boulevard rather than the path, the boulevard should be clearly and frequently marked with road markings or signs that say bicycles using roadway" or "share the road."

* Further, no consideration appears to have been given to making the Main Avenue Bridge and its access ramps safe for transportation and other vehicular cyclists.

The ODOT plan  to make the new boulevard into a safe and pleasant vehicular cycling route from Lake Avenue all the way into downtown Cleveland is an important goal, but the investment shouldn't create a net loss for area cyclists.  A proper shoreway investment plan  will benefit neighborhoods, recreational and transportation cyclists.  In the event ClevelandBikes can assist this process we would be pleased to do so.


Kevin Cronin
When ClevelandBikes, Cleveland Benefits!

Thougtful analysis of roadway cycling concerns

Very interesting analysis, Kevin. You clearly raise important concerns. How strong a support network is there to get these messages across to people who can make a difference? Who are the community leaders most supportive of the interests of cyclists? I ask this because I feel sending letters to ODOT is like throwing them into the wind, but perhaps 100s of letters to Matt Zone or Paul Alsenas, or Paul Volpe would have an impact... perhaps Ed Hauser could be a repository, if this interests him. I especially agree with your concerns about increased traffic on Detroit, which is already a very rough and dangerous ride from W. 45th to Lake - effort should be made to improve conditions through that stretch especially.

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You know, Kevin, I don't know what to think about all this

I'm really impressed you have focused on the cycling issues for this plan, while I'm still trying to grasp the big picture. I even went to the public forum on the project, at Mt. Carmel last month (today's header), and have reviewed the plans in more detail at the ODOT website, and I'm still uncomfortable about many aspects and inclined to take the same position I now have on the ODOT Innerbelt planning, which is do nothing. Still, I'm interested in any more informed opinions.

I live in the area that would be affected (although who knows if I still will in 2011 when this is completed) and have family with business and property across from Mt. Carmel (their property value would probably go up). It is insane you can't get to Edgewater Park more easily, so improving access would be good, althoght the walk/bike throughs around W. 65th and W. 70th work... W. 65th is very cool, with a great mural. Do we need better car access?

My biggest question is what will be done with whatever land is freed up. The ODOT plans make the future of the property look bleak - Battery Park plans are ugly (and they have priced their condos at nearly $200 per square foot, and seem to be behind schedule). I guess I'd feel lots better if I could see a better presentation of the big picture - will new development be integrated and enhance existing neighborhoods, and so build community, or will this just add more ugly condo developments with views of the lake and their back-ends to the community? Will there be street level quality of life amenities? As you point out, will the good people who walk and ride have better amenities or just more traffic and danger?

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