Heights Bicycle Coalition Races Ahead
The Heights Bicycle Coalition was founded in 2010 with a focus on making the Heights area more bicycle friendly. Most of the work has focused on improving infrastructure, and encouraging more people to ride.
The HBC began by convening a meeting with University Circle Incorporated (UCI) and the City of Cleveland Heights. That set the stage for the Circle-Heights Bicycle Network, and the Missing Links planning study to strengthen alternative modes of transportation that connect the Heights and University Circle. With funding from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative (TLCI), the City of Cleveland Heights and UCI, the year-long planning study is nearly complete.
The plans, developed by Michael Baker Corporation, Parsons Brinkerhoff and City Architecture, will be presented for a final round of public input during hearings November 29. The first meeting will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Case Western Reserve University’s Crawford Hall, 10900 Euclid Avenue, in the lower level Inamori Center, downstairs from Sages Café. Another will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the second floor Council Chambers at Cleveland Heights City Hall, 40 Severance Circle in Cleveland Heights.
Heights Bicycle Coalition also conducted a bicycle parking needs survey and shared the results with Cleveland Heights and University Heights. This year, Cleveland Heights installed 39 bike parking rings on parking meters, and will soon install eight staple racks. University Heights and Severance Town Center added several bike racks, and the post office at Severance hopes to install a rack soon. The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District is planning to install numerous new bike racks in the spring of 2013. With advice from the HBC, Coventry Village installed several artistic bike racks.
For the third year, HBC promoted spring and fall Walk or Bike to School Day in the CH-UH schools. Half the district’s elementary and middle schools participated in the October 3 Walk or Bike to School Day, and in 2012, three elementary schools held Bike Rodeos. The extremely popular Cleveland Heights bicycle police supported two of these rodeos.
To encourage more people to ride, HBC promoted Free-Wheelin’ Wednesdays, evening rides in August and September. These Heights-area rides introduced bicyclists to the multi-purpose trails around Forest Hills Park and the Shaker Lakes. Destinations included historic places where John D. Rockefeller left his mark, Wade Oval Wednesdays, the trees in the Heights, community gardens, hidden attractions and more.
In the spring, a bike tour showcased five of Cleveland Heights’ 10 historic districts, and in the fall, Cleveland State University history professor Mark Souther led app-enhanced bicycle tours of the Dugway Brook watershed and of the historic Noble-Monticello area.
For the third year in a row, Cleveland Heights City Council declared May Bike Month in Cleveland Heights. On May 16 HBC promoted and organized police escorts for the route of the annual Ride of Silence, starting at Whole Foods Market in University Heights, and ending in University Circle. The city's efforts include bicycle police patrol of parks, business districts and neighborhoods, at least in good weather.
With the support of Phoenix Coffee, HBC celebrated Bike to Work Day May 18 by hosting a coffee station at the intersection of Edgehill and Overlook Roads, with free coffee and pastries for bike commuters. This location is one of the most travelled by bicycle commuters, in Northeast Ohio, according to NOACA studies.
Reflecting popular demand, Cleveland Heights’ commitment to making the City more bicycle friendly is represented in the passage of new sustainable zoning regulations that include specifications for bike racks at new commercial and apartment buildings. Other communities in the region are actively considering adopting Cleveland Heights leading-edge sustainable zoning regulations.
Many regional activities and information for bicyclists are listed on the HBC website, www.bikesintheheights.org, and are sent to all who have registered to receive the HBC e-newsletter.
Activities for 2013 include an independent bicycle-themed movie this winter following last winter’s successful showing of Bicycle Dreams, a movie about the Race across America (RAAM).
Cleveland Heights Director of Planning and Development and bicycle advocate Richard Wong is pursuing funding to connect Cleveland Heights bike facilities on North Park Boulevard with the newly-completed Cleveland Lake-to-Lakes Trail, and also to construct a multiuse path along the south side of Cedar Glen to enhance connectivity for bicyclists between the Heights and University Circle.
HBC expects 2013 to be another banner year for bicycling in the Heights.
Mary Dunbar, President, Heights Bicycle Coalition, and Member, Cleveland Heights City Council