Cleveland Heights programs encourage bicycling
Over the past several years, Cleveland Heights has become measurably more bicycle-friendly according to the League of American Bicyclists, which recognized the city as a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community in autumn 2013, up from an honorable mention grade in 2010.
In the future, the City of Cleveland Heights plans to continue improving infrastructure for bicyclists. The Heights Bicycle Coalition (HBC) will encourage bicycling with group rides and other programs, while the city, the schools and HBC will educate Heights residents of all ages on bicycling and its benefits as a healthy and environmentally-friendly activity.
On May 17 and June 14, the city and HBC jointly offer done-in-a-morning "Smart Cycling" classes for bicyclists of all experience levels. Taught by League of American Bicyclists certified instructors, the classes are for adults and teens 14 or older. For those just taking up bicycling, a smart-cycling class helps build the confidence to ride while providing connections with other bicyclists and advocates, and experienced riders report gaining new insights as well. More information and registration is available at www.bikesintheheights.org, or by calling Jennifer Kuzma at 216-291-2854.
Thanks to physical education teachers, parents and the Cleveland Heights Police Bicycle Unit, some schools are offering bike rodeos as well as bicycle- and pedestrian-safety instruction in physical education classes: Canterbury, Roxboro, Fairfax, Gearity and Monticello schools have all been involved this year; Canterbury and Fairfax have had after-school bike clubs as well.
In March, the City of Cleveland Heights and HBC completed a Cleveland Heights school travel plan and applied to the Ohio Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School program for infrastructure and noninfrastructure grants. Awards will be announced in May.
Recognizing the importance of alternative modes of transportation, the city recently initiated a 12-member Transportation Advisory Committee, which has been meeting monthly since January. Members represent pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, the physically challenged, school and business communities, the city's police, planning and public works departments, and the RTA. The committee aims to serve as a civic forum to improve conditions for walking, bicycling and riding public transit for residents of all ages and abilities, and to find optimal solutions for transportation issues facing the city. It will report to CH City Council.
May is Bike Month in Cleveland Heights and many other cities nationwide. HBC will offer related Bike Month programs to include a bike fix-up, group rides, walk or bike to school day, bike to work week and day, and more.
Cleveland Heights residents can help take the city to the next level as a Bicycle Friendly Community by embracing the national trend toward bicycling for commuting, recreation or just to get around town. Many residents already bicycle for recreation and errands, but just 1.04 percent commute to work by bicycle, according to recent data. Still, the city’s bicycle commuting rate is high compared with the Ohio average of just 0.3 percent. Cleveland Heights is poised to make its roads safer and its community stronger through an array of bicycle-related programs.
Mary Dunbar is a member of Cleveland Heights City Council and president of the Heights Bicycle Coalition.