Euclid Corridor bike lanes:
In late 2003 the Ohio Department of Transportation created an uproar among cyclists when it maneuvered to remove bike lanes from the RTA's Euclid Corridor Transportation Project, proposing to replace them with a general-purpose shoulder and bike route signs.
While RTA project officials claimed that nothing would really change, bike advocates warned that shoulders create a legal and operational gray areasince shoulders can be used routinely for stopping or parking by motor vehicles that make them distinctly inferior to full-fledged lanes.
The controversy started when ODOT raised questions about proposed intersection design details, despite the plan's compliance with the national bicycle facility guide from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
ODOT's District 12 staff produced a memo for the Euclid Corridor 60 percent design approval meeting that suggested eliminating bike lanes with AASHTO-approved pavement markings. The ODOT memo suggested replacing the bike lanes with a 3-5' wide general purpose shoulder, and signage dubbing the street a "bike route."
In making this change, however, bike advocates warned that ODOT was seeking to minimize the official presence of bike facilities on urban streets, and was doing so in this case by downgrading "bike lanes" into "shoulders."
District 12 staff objections were focused on a proposed design detail which ended bike lane markings well back from each intersection whenever a "choice lane" exists (straight or right turn allowed), and there's insufficient road space to maintain a five foot bike lane. It's an option that appears as Figure 12 in the AASHTO bike guide, but was conspicuously absent from ODOT's manual.
A written review from District 12 objected to this design, saying that ODOT requires bike lanes to be "continuous". EcoCity wondered why ODOT had omitted the AASHTO guide's design detail for these "choice lanes", but kept every other AASHTO design. Without it, ODOT could be in a position to oppose any bike lane proposal within any of Ohio's urban areas.
The controversy created an opportunity for the city to finally assert local control over street design. At the January, 2004 meeting of the Mayor's Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, representatives from the City of Cleveland showed interest in adopting the City of Chicago's bike lane design guide, which provides more detail than the AASHTO guide for urban settings. EcoCity encouraged the city to adopt its own local bike lane design guidelines because, under home rule provisions, ODOT will defer to locally-approved street design standards. A city-approved guide would therefore help "paint the way" to bike lanes throughout the city.
*Editor's note: On April 26, 2004, Cleveland City Council unanimously approved a resolution adopting Chicago's bike lane design guide as the official standard for Cleveland. ODOT has since eliminated seperate state guidelines for bike facility design, in favor of using the national AASHTO guide -- including its option for the "choice lane" detail. As of June, 2004, ODOT also concurs that 5' bicycle lanes are appropriate for the Euclid Corridor.
EcoCity wondered why ODOT had omitted the AASHTO guide's design detail for these "choice lanes." Without it, ODOT could be in a position to oppose any bike lane proposal within any of Ohio's urban areas.