Air Quality

Published on August 22nd, 2014 | by Cynthia Shahan


Cleveland Bike Lanes Where Old Streetcar Lanes Once Flourished

August 22nd, 2014 by  

Many America cities revolved around streetcars in the last century. In Cleveland, the streets Lorain, Superior, and Euclid were core to the city’s streetcar system, running to all of the city’s neighborhoods. As cars crept in and replaced streetcars, these core modes of trransport and cosmopolitan life fell away. Streetcar tracks paved with cement left wide empty streets longing for more stores. The streets showed vacancies due to population shifts to the suburbs and lack of nearby pedestrians and streetcar riders in wait.

But Clevelanders now propose to bring activity back to these areas. Local bicycle advocates intend to bring about a more diverse transportation system in Cleveland once again. Their proposal, named Midway, will manifest as green, landscaped, center-running, two-way bike lanes traversing the city, right where the former streetcar lanes once flourished.

Image from Streetsblog Image: Bialosky & Partners, via Streetsblog

St. Clair Superior Development loved the idea and transformed St. Clarie Avenue (see visualization above). Joining with the Midway team, they built this first segment with a grant from the Kresge Foundation.

Barb Clint, a board member at Bike Cleveland, the city’s bike advocacy group, and another Bike Cleveland board member, John McGovern, initiated the Midway plan. “It seems so obvious to me,” said Barb Clint, director of community health and advocacy at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland.

Clint continues in Streetsblog: ”We have these massive streets, with severely low volumes of traffic. They’re not comfortable to walk along, they’re not comfortable to bike along because people are driving so fast. We can’t preach at people and tell them they should be more physically active if we’re not providing them safe places to do so.”

The streetcar lanes run throughout the city. Advocates believe with some paint and bollards, this transformation will be inexpensive and scaled up if it does well.

Image From Streetsblog

Image: Bialosky & Partners

Other bike path stories show the widespread transition of city streets to include bike lanes. Check out these cool ideas and other news:

The Copenhagenize Flow

$600 Pop-Up Protected Bike Lane Makes the Case for Permanent Bikeways

Bike Paths and Sidewalks: Transportation Investments that Work

Lego-Like, Elegant Bike Lanes That Snap Together

Toronto Doctors Argue Bike Lanes Save Lives

Take An Apple & A Bike-Share A Day; Boston Doctors Prescribing Bicycling

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • Benjamin Nead

    It’s interesting to compare this with Tucson, which is a bicycling town in a big way and now also has a newly relaunched modern streetcar line . . .

    The streetcar route was formerly populated by bicycles and, in actuality,
    it still is. But more than a few cyclist have caught their wheels in the tracks while
    riding parallel with them, with some serious injuries resulting. There’s also new traffic laws along that route (enforced by fines) that requires bicyclist to come to a complete stop when the streetcar is loading/unloading and not pass alongside. Consequentially, there is new tension with some in the local cycling community that the new streetcar has “taken over turf” that was formerly and more or less theirs.

    Pragmatically – and as someone who commutes to work by bike daily – I have to say that it’s time for some of the more militant local cyclists (including the one who angrily laid their bike on the tracks the other weekend, blocking streetcar movement and prompting a visit from the local police) to step back. There are plenty of side streets open to bike traffic along almost the entire streetcar University-to-downtown route that also has far less automobile traffic. It doesn’t take too much extra planning to get around and access favorite businesses in that area by bike. This is not to say, though, that there still is work to be done in some key places along the route (west edge of the University campus and south entrance/exit of the 4th Avenue underpass, for instance, for those who are familiar with it.)

    Also . . . bike riders are encouraged to bring their bicycles aboard the streetcar.
    When riding city buses, cyclists have to place their bikes on racks, outside and in front of the bus. So, the streetcar is actually a service that caters very positively for getting around in conjunction with bikes. The key is for local cyclist to proverbially look at the new situation as a glass half full, rather than one that is half empty.

  • beernotwar

    Curious to see how much usage these get. From what I’ve read, people have chosen not to switch to bicycling out of concern for safety. Cyclists need pathways that are separated from cars and trucks or they don’t feel (and probably aren’t) safe enough. My city of Seattle once had street cars as well, but all those lines are heavily-used streets now. We would need to engineer something quite different here.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Cities could create bike expressways.

      Take a street a couple of blocks off the main thoroughfare and make them non-driving streets for car. Allow car parking but only very low speed one direction travel within the block and no vehicle movement from one block to another along the ‘expressway’ or only at very low speed.

      Both sides of the street could likely turn from parallel into angled parking, increasing parking spaces.

      Make all side streets stop streets for vehicles. Install warning systems for bike riders to alert them to a vehicle approaching the stop at excessive speed (unlikely to stop).

      A small number of repurposed streets would make it possible zip distances and then go into slower defensive speed mode for the final blocks.

      Having a safe way to travel on a bike would probably take far more cars off the roads than would have traveled on the repurposed streets.

  • Kyle Field

    Great way to introduce new functionality to a city, make use of existing infrastructure in a way that better fits where the city wants to go and revitalize the city with new “pedestrian” traffic in areas that likely are not as easy to access today. Thanks for sharing!

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