If you haven’t noticed, biking is really taking off in Northeast Ohio. As the cost of gasoline goes up and our streets become morebiking friendly, there are fewer and fewer excuses not to ride. There are incredible advocates for cycling in the region, the newly formed Bike Cleveland being the biggest convener of advocates in Cleveland. Bike Cleveland was born in September of 2011 from cyclists and civic leaders after years of talk about an organized advocacy entity. Guidance fromcities like Columbus, Pittsburgh and Chicago provided Cleveland with a vision for how to make the city a safer and more enjoyable place to ride. 

Bike Cleveland is a membership organization. Membership are essential in helping them create a more bike-friendly region. Consider joining today online at BikeCleveland.org/membership. Not only will you be helping our cities become more bike-friendly, but you will get some great discounts at local bike shops and businesses. 

Last week WCPN’s Sound of Ideas featured a show on biking in Northeast Ohio. Guests discussed improvements to the Hope Memorial bridge, the Velodrome in Slavic Village and efforts to foster better relationships between motorists and cyclists. Check out the conversation and learn more about some of these efforts, like the Cleveland Bike Challenge, on Bike Cleveland's website. Bike Cleveland, and local Streetsblog Manager Angie Schmitt, have been instrumental in getting advocates like Mark Gorton, founder of Openplans to come talk to fans in Cleveland. Openplans is “a group of New York City-based nonprofits that are using technology to help solve the problemsfacing American cities” (City Club of Cleveland). Gorton spoke in the community at Market Garden Brewery and at the City Club of Cleveland. Cleveland's Bike Rack is another positive effort in biking and a great option for commuters who are looking to store their bike and take a shower before work.  

Slightly Bitter in Cleveland http://slightlybitterincleveland.blogspot.com/2011_09_01_archive.htmlBike Cleveland and the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study’s Switching Gears team always encourage new and experienced cyclists, but their efforts are especially strong during Bike Week and Bike Month and their efforts inspired me. I’ve just joined the ranks of cyclists in Cleveland by biking from my home in Parma Heights to work on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland. There are many great bike shops, but I bought my bike at Joy Machines on West 25th, one of Cleveland’s many incubators of cycling energy. Joy Machines embodies everything that’s great about Cleveland. The shop is approachable, entrepreneurial and fun! It’s a pleasure looking at all the cycling goodies in there and even though I’m a novice, Renato Pereira-Castillo, co-owner with Alex Nosse, made me feel confident in my decision to buy a Jamis and become a real bike commuter.

Yesterday was my second adventure as a commuter and I can’t wait for my next ride.
Thanks to the help of Bike Cleveland’s Executive Director, Jacob VanSickle, I’m learning to ride safely and feeling more comfortable in a vulnerable stature among sometimes angry motorists.When Jacob and I ride together we meet at the corner of 

Photo May 31, 8 05 08 AM Pearl Road and Broadview Road and then head downtown over the Veterans Memorial Bridge or through the Flats. Jacob explained some things about the roadway on our first journey. After two vehicles beeped at us right before Brooklyn Centre, he said (paraphrasing, I didn’t write it down, I was biking!), “driving a car is a very personal experience, you’re in a personal space, but the road is a very public space, so when bikes get “in the way” of motorists they feel personally offended or annoyed and therefore beep.” He let one of the motorists know kindly that we were meant to be in the road, because we too are vehicles, we just move slower. Jacob and many others like him are on a mission to inform motorists of the laws, fight for better laws and make cycling safer for everyone.

Today Jacob and others took another step towards passing Ordinance 672-12, the Bicycle Transportation Safety Ordinance, by getting the approval of the Cleveland Planning Commission. Cleveland City Council will vote on the measure on Monday June 4th. The ordinance will require that all cars keep 3 feet from bikes and that all commercial vehicles, including buses, keep 6 feet away to protect the safety of all cyclists on our roads. Once the ordinances are passed in Cleveland, Bike Cleveland hopes that other cities will follow suit and make our regions streets more bike-friendly.

Legislation also addresses these issues (from Bike Cleveland): 

Bike Licensing: Eliminate the existing bike licensing ordinance that requires cyclists to be licensed to ride on the streets in the City of Cleveland. Recommendation would be to utilize the National

Bike Registry (More info at nationalbikeregistry.com) and encourage people to register their bikes, but not make it mandatory.Parking, Driving, or Standing on a bike path or lane: ordinance that prohibits driving or parking on any on-street path or lane designed for use solely by bicycles or other non-motorized vehicle. 

Right of way on a left turn- motorist intending to turn left must yield the right-of-way to a bicycle approaching from the opposite direction

Turning right in front of a bicycle- when a motor vehicle and bicycle are traveling in the same direction no turn by a motorist may interfere with a bicycle proceeding straight through the intersection to avoid what are known as “right hook” collisions.

This is consistent with the Ohio Revised Code, but would put a local emphasis on bicycles and vulnerable road users. 

Everyone is encouraged to call and email his or her councilperson or the councilperson for the Ward you ride through.  You can find a directory of the Cleveland City Council here. It is legislation like this that will help others begin to take a ride on a bike instead of a ride in a car. Perhaps Cleveland will be the leading city of Complete and Green Streets, streets that accommodate bikes, walkers, runners, and public transportation in the very near future. Check out the Pop Up Rockwell demonstration of Complete and Green Streets from April 21, 2012 on Rockwell Avenue, Cleveland.

If you’re feeling doubtful about your prospects as a cyclist, fear not, there are lots of people willing to help. If I can ride, anyone can and anyone can be an advocate. The amazing thing about starting to ride to work is that it is really FUN. I had the wind in my hair and felt terrific and I’ve even made some new friends along the way. Riding is great exercise and is truly enjoyable. If you’re considering riding to work I suggest going for it. You’ll save on gas, improve the region and actually have a good time!

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Copyright © 2012 Taryn Gress; available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

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