getting where we want to be

EcoCity transportation program manager Ryan McKenzie provides news and commentary on what's happening to improve transportation choices in Northeast Ohio and at state & national levels. Get updates on road policies, transit, bicycling, walking, freight, and other transport-related topics, all viewed from EcoCity's sustainability perspective.

Rush hour bike restrictions questioned for RTA rail
Advocates for cycling transportation from ClevelandBikes are in conversation with RTA staff about bike access to RTA trains. The current policy prohibits bicycles on weekdays between 6:30 - 8:30 am, and 4:00 - 6:00pm, and allows bikes at all other times.

ClevelandBikes would at least like to see the restriction lifted for near-empty trains travelling in the non-peak direction (i.e. - away from downtown in the morning, and toward downtown in the evening), if not a total elimination of the rush hour ban.

ClevelandBikes points out that most jobs in the county are now in the suburbs, where land use patterns are often hostile to transit and walking. They say that RTA's current bike/train policy works against reverse commuters from the central city who are trying to access those jobs, many of which are in basic manufacturing and service (i.e. - low wages) . They contend that the transit + bike combination can be particularly effective in travelling the last mile or two from suburban station exit to employer entrance.

"By opening up RTA for cyclists in an unrestricted way, you expand the range of an RTA passenger, who can cover many miles in ten minutes and still get to work, rather than walking or waiting for a shuttle bus (assuming an employer provides one) from the final RTA suburban stop."

For the record -- as of 2003 [data & commentary from George Zeller of CEOGC]:
752,272 jobs in Cuyahoga County
278,456 of them are located in the city of Cleveland (37%)
while the other 473,816 are in the suburbs.

"Strangely enough, and little known to most people is the fact that a large majority of the high wage manufacturing jobs in Cuyahoga County are also located out in the suburbs. Of the 93,173 manufacturing jobs that we still have left, only 29,525 of them are located in the city of Cleveland. Thus, only 32% of our manufacturing jobs are in Cleveland, with the other 68% being located out in the suburbs.

Of the 659,099 non-manufacturing jobs in Cuyahoga County, only 248,931 of them are in the city of Cleveland. Thus, 38% of our nonmanufacturing jobs are in the city of Cleveland, with the other 62% located out in the suburbs."

[employment data & commentary from George Zeller of CEOGC]

ODOT studying a new Innerbelt Bridge
Consultants for the Ohio Department of Transportation are studying ways to build an entirely new Innerbelt bridge as part of its massive Innerbelt reconstruction project.

At a project meeting in February, the ODOT consultants dismissed the idea, saying that a new span couldn't be built without taking down Tremont's iconic Greek Orthodox church (a political non-starter). But community groups and County officials pressed for a more detailed study, citing a wide variety of concerns about ODOT's desire to add additional traffic lanes to the existing bridge.

Consultants are now privately showing an engineering diagram that shifts the bridge slightly to the south, and reconfigures ramps to create new development opportunities south of Jacobs Field. We're told that the design would also drop the road deck of the bridge significantly, improving views across the valley from both Tremont and downtown, and helping to improve street networks in the Gateway and Quadrangle districts.

As we reported in January, proponents of a new Innerbelt bridge have called for world-class architectural design. Just as importantly, they've urged ODOT to realign the bridge and highway south toward the river bluff, which would create enormous development opportunities near the $1.5 billion Gateway complex.

To that end, KSU's Urban Design Center, Cleveland Public Art and EcoCity Cleveland are considering a "Gateway Challenge" design competition similar to last year's successful Lakefront Challenge, seeking development visions for 30-50 acres just south of Carnegie Avenue. The competition would help raise community awareness about the land's potential, and also encourage ODOT to take a closer look at realignment possibilities.

NOACA selects planning grant recipients
A NOACA committee has recommended up to $75,000 in funding for 17 planning grants (PDF) from its new Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative (TLCI).
According to the NOACA website, the TLCI, "helps communities in Northeast Ohio obtain federal funding and technical assistance for planning transportation projects that strengthen community livability."

The agency received 36 proposals (PDF) , seeking roughly twice the budgeted $1 million for 2005.
Applications for 2006 funding are tentatively scheduled for release this fall.

We congratulate our Cleveland EcoVillage project for winning approval of $12,000 for an EcoVillage Rapid Station Ped, Bicycle and Bus Connections plan, and thank the City of Cleveland for sponsoring the project.

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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2005

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