Making the Heights more bicycle friendly
Heights Bicycle Coalition (HBC) traces its history back to May 2010, after an application submitted to the League of American Bicyclists resulted in Cleveland Heights being recognized with an Honorable Mention as a Bicycle Friendly Community. The goals of HBC were to help make the Heights even more bicycle friendly and inspire residents to use bicycles for commuting and recreation.
To that end, in October 2010, HBC leaders met with officials from University Circle Inc. (UCI) and the city of Cleveland Heights to ask for improved bicycle connectivity between the Heights and University Circle, which has had some of the largest employment growth in the state of Ohio. Many Heights residents work in the Circle, which now connects nicely to downtown Cleveland thanks to the Health Line and bike lanes on Euclid Avenue. Heights bicycle commuters wanted their ride to work to be safer and more convenient.
Everyone agreed that encouraging bicycling between the Heights and the Circle was a good idea. For example, UCI President Chris Ronayne cited the high cost of building garages for cars, and noted that the opportunity for institutions to expand had been compromised when much of the limited supply of land in the Circle was used for parking.
Fast forward to today. After six years of planning and raising funds, much-improved routes are now in place, with more improvements to come. Here’s some of what’s been accomplished.
- Edgehill Road between Overlook Road in the Heights and Murray Hill Road in Little Italy, which had deteriorated badly with cracks and holes that could disable cars and topple cyclists, was repaved in 2013. The road was painted with a buffered bike lane (the first in Northeast Ohio) going uphill and sharrows (share the road symbols) going downhill.
- Sharrows now adorn many roads around town. The first to be added were on Euclid Heights Boulevard in 2010, after HBC members went to City Council with the suggestion.
- North Park Boulevard acquired bike lanes in 2015, connecting the Heights to the Circle via Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. In 2017, those lanes were buffered, thanks to a Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) implementation grant.
- The Lake to Lakes Trail, running along Ambler Ravine and Fairhill Road from the western terminus of the existing all-purpose path along the Shaker Lower Lake at Coventry Road and North Park Boulevard, offers another bike- and pedestrian-friendly route to University Circle, downtown and other points in Cleveland, and to Lake Erie via the Cultural Gardens. Completed in 2016, it includes a bike fix-it station at the Coventry-and-North Park trailhead.
- In 2016, the city of Cleveland added a bike lane going uphill on Mayfield Road from Little Italy to the Heights.
- In 2018, the multipurpose trail on the south side of Cedar Glen Parkway between Harcourt Road in the Heights and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the Circle was completed.
What lies ahead?
- The free BlueLink shuttle that runs through the Circle, then up Mayfield Road to Coventry Road before circling back to the Circle, will soon have a bike rack, and the Ohio Department of Transportation will be adding signage along the route this summer to promote it.
- The hilltop intersection of Overlook and Edgehill roads will be repaved and reconfigured starting this spring to make it easier for all users—automobiles, pedestrians, bicyclists—to navigate, and to reduce stormwater runoff.
These are highlights of progress that has mainly improved connections between University Circle and the Heights. Thanks especially to the Cleveland and Cleveland Heights Planning and Public Works departments for making this all happen, including gaining funding from NOACA and others.
There’s more progress to celebrate around the Heights. Watch for more in future columns.
Heights Bicycle Coalition
Heights Bicycle Coalition is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to educating and encouraging Heights community members to use bicycles as a sustainable and healthy form of transportation and recreation. This article was written by Mary Dunbar with assistance from the coalition's Communications Committee and president.