Cleveland Heights gains recognition as bicycle-friendly community
On Oct. 15, the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) announced its latest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFCs), and Cleveland Heights became one of 32 new BFCs. Cleveland Heights joined two other suburban Ohio communities—Lakewood and Dublin—in achieving bronze-level BFC in this round.
In 2010 the Heights Bicycle Coalition (HBC) was formed—a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and encouraging Heights community members on bicycle use.
HBC has worked collaboratively with the City of Cleveland Heights and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District ever since to make the community more bicycle friendly. Cleveland Heights has installed sharrows and bike lanes on roadways, as well as added many new bike racks in business districts, schools and parks.
Elementary and middle schools have celebrated Walk or Bike to School Day, spring and fall, for three years. Bike rodeos have made a comeback, and afterschool bike clubs have started. An adult-level Smart Cycling class was offered this past spring. Heights Youth Club has given away almost 100 free bicycles to youths.
Cleveland Heights has two bicycle stores—Cain Park Bicycle and Cycle Sport—and a studio that combines yoga and bicycling— Buddhaful Spin. This year, Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library became one of the first nationally with a Book Bike to visit street fairs and other events, to give away free books.
The Cleveland Heights Police Department has trained six bicycle police who have been instrumental in improving safety in parks, business districts and neighborhoods, and building positive relations with youth. Bike counts by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency show that Cleveland Heights stands out regionally for its number of bicyclists. The counts also show an increase in bicycling.
Cleveland Heights City Council has declared May Bike Month for the past three years. With the support of Phoenix Coffee, FutureHeights and the city, HBC has organized a free coffee and pastry station for bicyclists on Bike to Work Day for the past two years. HBC and other organizations have offered bike tours of city attractions to entice new riders. The city and HBC have published safety information on their websites and in their publications.
Cleveland Heights City Council is committed to creating, by the end of 2013, a Transportation Advisory Committee to assist in improving conditions and opportunities for transit and active modes of transportation. The Ohio Department of Transportation is providing consultants to create School Travel Plans for five schools in the city; this will set the stage for applications to fund infrastructure and education projects that will support Safe Routes to School Programs in 2014.
Mary Dunbar is president of the Heights Bicycle Coalition and a member of Cleveland Heights City Council.