Building Multimodal Transportation

Building Multimodal Transportation

Transportation is one of the hot button issues right now, and for good reason.Studies show that one of the things that young people want in a city is the ability to live without a car and get by on public transportation. And, Baby Boomers entering retirement and becoming less mobile than they used to be, too seek transportation alternatives.

Joining us as panelists for this conversation are:

Eve Sandberg – Professor, Oberlin College

David Beach – Director, GreenCityBlueLake Institute

Mike Salamone – Transit Director, Medina County Public Transit System

Jacob VanSickle – Executive Director, Bike Cleveland

Conversation Starter

How do we go about building such a system? What transportation options do you want to see?

Moderators (1)

Participants (17) See All

What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2017-05-25T12:30:20+00:00
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Recent Activity

Nancy Reeves
on Jun 02, 2014
"I'm seeing more bike traffic in Akron streets - several of which have sprouted well thought out..."
Nancy Reeves
on Jun 02, 2014
"The North Coast Exprsss does have two routes south on to the West side of Akron during rush hour,..."
Grace Gallucci
on May 23, 2014
""Building a multi modal transportation system" is about giving people choices for the way they..."
Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014
"Maybe NOACA could go on a slimming diet and stop adding lanes to our interstates.  The official..."
Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014
"Ethanol, as currently produced, is not significantly "greener" than conventional fuels, and in..."
Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014
"amen!  "
Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014
"I'm even okay ith riding the streets ithout bike lanes or sharros, but I'd really like some..."
Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014
"and don't forget the Skylift: http://www.clevelandskylift.com/  "
Eve Sandberg
on May 23, 2014
"Oberlin has a auto/truck garage that converts motors from diesle and gas turcks buses and cars to..."
David Beach
on May 23, 2014
"  Another thing to emphasize about multimodal transportation is its growing popularity...."
Tim Kovach
on May 23, 2014
shared a link: "RTA strikes reciprocal fare agreements with neighboring transit agencies"
Cedric Harden
on May 23, 2014
"This project is long overdue for this area.  Cleveland still being a major metropolitan area..."
David Beach
on May 23, 2014
"Just talked with Joe Calabrese, the head of GCRTA -- He said that 5 local transit agencies have a..."
David Beach
on May 23, 2014
"This is an interesting question. Can one think about being multimodal in places where the..."
David Beach
on May 23, 2014
"Akshai is right about the urgency of reducing the carbon pollution from transportation. The..."
David Beach
on May 23, 2014
"The City of Cleveland recently released a Bikeway Implementation Plan that envisions a 118-mile..."
Toni Chanakas
on May 22, 2014
"All I know is I would love to have a "smooth" bike lane from North Collinwood (East 185th Street..."
Bill Davis
on May 22, 2014
"I am aware of efforts to eliminate the need for additional fares for transfers between the..."
David Beach
on May 22, 2014
"Yes, a seamless system is very important -- moving from train to transit to bike to pedestrian..."
David Beach
on May 22, 2014
"As far as I know, GCRTA has always been a Cuyahoga County transit system since its formation in..."
David Beach
on May 22, 2014
"Bill, You’re right that older communities (i.e., places that developed before or during the..."
Eve Sandberg
on May 22, 2014
"A mulitimodal transportation system should also include ways of intersecting various forms of..."
Erick Adam Gaines Sanders
on May 22, 2014
"Good question. I have never been to Geauga County yet as there is no real way there except by car..."
Erick Adam Gaines Sanders
on May 22, 2014
"From what I remember, when Greater Cleveland RTA was created, it was meant to serve multiple..."
Christopher Arron Bell
on May 22, 2014
"Hi I would like to see RTA go to other counties in Ohio Because I wanto to visit Museums,..."
Bruce Hogan
on May 22, 2014
"All of the transit agencies in Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Summit, Portage, Erie, Stark, Medina..."
Akshai Singh
on May 22, 2014
"Key part of this inequity is the constitutional ban on Ohio's gas tax for anything but new roads..."
Mark Slutz
on May 22, 2014
"It would be nice if Stark, Summit, and Cuyahoga Counties had some sort of regional public transit..."
Akshai Singh
on May 22, 2014
"If we're serious, we must understand that climate change is both real and present, and also that..."
Bill Davis
on May 22, 2014
"I'd like to hear more perspectives on what it means to be multimodal outside the urban core. ..."
Grace Gallucci
on May 23, 2014 - 8:47 pm

"Building a multi modal transportation system" is about giving people choices for the way they travel and connect. This provides people with real freedom and subsequently opportunity. Thus, we must plan for and deliver a comprehensive transportation system that includes driving, biking, walking and taking public transportation. But even more important than providing multi modal options is ensuring that those options are appropriately linked and working together, both for today and for tomorrow.

 
David Beach
on May 23, 2014 - 2:36 pm

 

Another thing to emphasize about multimodal transportation is its growing popularity. “Walkable urbanism” is the hot play in real estate, as baby boomers and Millennials alike seek to live, work and play in vibrant neighborhoods.

 
Cedric Harden
on May 23, 2014 - 11:40 am

This project is long overdue for this area.  Cleveland still being a major metropolitan area should have a "central station" that links all forms of transportation in one hub. This is what this city is missing.  Link Taxis, Interstate Buses, Local Buses, Cars, Air, Trains, Rapid Transity, Waterway, Bikes, .... the only place this can be done is downtown.  Make it a true 21st century town.  Right now the city is slow to move because the 'movers' - transportation entities are not linked up accordingly.  Many other cities have done just that.  Seattle has done it and other ciites are planning to do exactly that.  Cleveland has talked about it for 35 years but nothing has come of it.  We're always late to the game.

 

Responses(1)

Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014

and don't forget the Skylift: http://www.clevelandskylift.com/

 

 
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Toni Chanakas
on May 22, 2014 - 7:43 pm

All I know is I would love to have a "smooth" bike lane from North Collinwood (East 185th Street area) into Downtown. When I ride, I have to take the Marginal which is extremely torn up; I end up biking in the middle of the road - not very safe. Plus, I would be great to have the Rapid extended well past East 9th. 

There needs to be more public access away from the gas-guzzling car. Many people want it so what's the hold up!

 

Responses(2)

David Beach
on May 23, 2014

The City of Cleveland recently released a Bikeway Implementation Plan that envisions a 118-mile network of bikeways by 2017 constructed as part of the city's regular capital improvement program. So more of the city will be connected (although it's not certain whether these routes will have bike lanes or less desirable sharrows). It will be important for cyclists to insist that these routes be maintained well.

In general, the expansion of bike lanes is one of the easiest, quickest, and least expensive ways to change the look and feel of a city.  

 
Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014

I'm even okay ith riding the streets ithout bike lanes or sharros, but I'd really like some pavement.  I rec ently rode the S.Marginal Rd from dontown to E 55th: it really was well-named, 'cause it's a marginal road indeed!

 
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Erick Adam Gaines Sanders
on May 22, 2014 - 4:02 pm

From what I remember, when Greater Cleveland RTA was created, it was meant to serve multiple counties. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I personally want to see that day come as I travel to Summit & Lake counties several times a year using Akron METRO and LAKETRAN, respectively, via GCRTA. What would be a great way to start this would be to step in and obtain what remains of Lorain County Transit (whose recent tax levy request was defeated yet again) and start there.

 

Responses(4)

David Beach
on May 22, 2014

As far as I know, GCRTA has always been a Cuyahoga County transit system since its formation in 1974, in part because much of its funding comes from a county sales tax. But many people recognize the need for better transit connections throughout Northeast Ohio. This was identified as a priority by the recent regional planning process of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium. And officials of local transit agencies are meeting to discuss better collaboration.

Perhaps someone from GCRTA or NOACA could provide an update?

 
Bill Davis
on May 22, 2014

I am aware of efforts to eliminate the need for additional fares for transfers between the individual transit agencies, i.e. a person transferring from Metro to GCRTA woujld not have to pay an additional fare.  Mr. Beach is correct that GCRTA was always Cuyahoga County based.  It has extended into other adjoining counties based on contractual agreements periodically.  Essentially, to extend the system beyond Cuyahoga County, an interested county would have to raise sufficient revenue to cover service in its county.  Keep in mind that Cuyahoga has generated dedicated funding for transit service support through a sales tax increment since the 1970s.

Bill

 
David Beach
on May 23, 2014

Just talked with Joe Calabrese, the head of GCRTA -- He said that 5 local transit agencies have a new agreement on joint fares and are working to provide more coordinated services across county lines. For instance, GCRTA, Akron Metro, and Laketran a planning coordinated service during the Gay Games this summer. He added that the ability to coordinate was increased recently because the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium created a regional transit map showing current routes and recommendations for future improvements. 

 
Tim Kovach
on May 23, 2014
 
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Christopher Arron Bell
on May 22, 2014 - 3:27 pm

Hi I would like to see RTA go to other counties in Ohio Because I wanto to visit Museums, Amusement Parks and Ernest Angley's Church in Akron.

 
Bruce Hogan
on May 22, 2014 - 3:25 pm

All of the transit agencies in Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Summit, Portage, Erie, Stark, Medina should be accessible woth a single fare sturcture.  Further, bus service should be in both directions.  For example, there should be Akron Metro service out of Cleveland to Akron during rush hour, so that people can live in Cleveland yet go to jobs in Akron.  Same for Lake, Portage, Lorain, etc.  I see that Cleveland downtown and Wade Park is served by bussses from Akron, Kent State, Lorain, Lake, but the reverse should be true.

 

Responses(1)

Nancy Reeves
on Jun 02, 2014

The North Coast Exprsss does have two routes south on to the West side of Akron during rush hour, and 1 north at the end of the day & 1 route south on the East side of Akron.Not fantastic - and I agree it should be better, but the service is based out of Akron so it starts and ends there.

 
Expand This Thread
Mark Slutz
on May 22, 2014 - 1:50 pm

It would be nice if Stark, Summit, and Cuyahoga Counties had some sort of regional public transit system, such as BART in San Francisco, METRO in DC, or SEPTA in Philadelphia.  Unfortunately, the balkanized model of government in Ohio seems to reign supreme.  I drive almost daily on I-77, on which has been spent a small fortune the last few years.  I've often wondered if this money might have been better spent on some sort of rail network, dedicated bus lanes, etc.  It would also be nice if elected officials would be on board with this, rather than cheerleading for taxes to help the 1% (the professional athletes and owners who will benefit from Cuyahoga County's recently renewed tobacco / alcohol tax).

 

Responses(2)

Akshai Singh
on May 22, 2014

Key part of this inequity is the constitutional ban on Ohio's gas tax for anything but new roads and highways.

 
Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014

amen!

 

 
Expand This Thread
Akshai Singh
on May 22, 2014 - 11:51 am

If we're serious, we must understand that climate change is both real and present, and also that transportation is the 2nd highest emitting sector of greenhouse gases, as well as being the fastest growing sector for GHG emissions.

This puts a responsibility on NOACA and our region to utilize the flexibility of Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) dollars towards low-carbon intensive transportation options. Specifically this means investment in transit, pedestrian, and bike modes.

Luckily, these options are all cheaper than expanding our highways and roads. Furthermore, they decrease stress on the roads, as well as improve users' health while saving them money.

I think we need to start with dedicated lanes for biking and buses. This is a really cheap option because we don't need additional infrastructure. It also addresses major issues of equity- a full bus should never have to wait behind single-passenger autos and parked cars (see: W. 25th in Ohio City).

 

Responses(4)

David Beach
on May 23, 2014

Akshai is right about the urgency of reducing the carbon pollution from transportation. The carbon emissions inventory which we did at the GreenCityBlueLake Institute found the transportation sector produces 28% of the carbon emissions in Northeast Ohio. We also outlined how the region could transition to a low-carbon transportation system (see link below).

NOACA should help by including a carbon reduction goal in its strategic plan -- and then it should fund the transportation improvements will actually reduce emissions. Giving more people convenient transportation choices will be a key part success.

 
Eve Sandberg
on May 23, 2014

Oberlin has a auto/truck garage that converts motors from diesle and gas turcks buses and cars to ethanol and cooking oils from our local restaurants.  They have been in talks wtih the school district to convert the school buses. the cost of ethanol is not steady and the "clean" properties have come under attack. Does anyone know where this technology stands today regarding desirable or not?

What makes it cheap for local traffic in Oberlin is the ability to use restaurant cooking oil.

 

 
Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014

Ethanol, as currently produced, is not significantly "greener" than conventional fuels, and in many cases is "less green."  There are a number of projects underway seeking to develop algal strains that would produce ethanol directly, but so far none has proven ready for prime-time.

 
Sam Bell
on May 23, 2014

Maybe NOACA could go on a slimming diet and stop adding lanes to our interstates.  The official rationale is usually that the new lanes will relieve current congestion, but the reality is that they merely result in more vehicle-miles driven and encourage increased sprawl.

 
Expand This Thread
Bill Davis
From the Moderator: Bill Davis
on May 22, 2014 - 11:42 am

I'd like to hear more perspectives on what it means to be multimodal outside the urban core.  What does a complete street look like in Troy Township in Geauga County for example?

Or North Ridgeville in Lorain County?

Bill

 

Responses(2)

Erick Adam Gaines Sanders
on May 22, 2014

Good question. I have never been to Geauga County yet as there is no real way there except by car (of course).

 
David Beach
on May 23, 2014

This is an interesting question. Can one think about being multimodal in places where the low-density land uses don't support it? As a rule of thumb, you need 7 housing units per acre to justify a bus route with 30-minute service. 

 
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Marc Lefkowitz
on May 22, 2014 - 10:17 am

We need to let leaders at NOACA and at the state, where the funds flow for transportation, know that Ohio's metro areas have great multi-modal plans, like Cleveland's newly announced 280 mile Bikeway Plan, but still lack the funding to build out the transportation network that will provide Complete Streets. Our goal of a 6% mode shift is realistic if we build infrastructure with the least experienced as our design group, so protected options for biking in the same space as cars is the ideal. We have a generational opportunity to reshape roads that are overbuilt, in many cases, for traffic volumes that no longer exists in our urban areas. Many four lane roads can be made safer for cars, pedestrians and cyclists by applying tried and true "road diets". Second, we need to show our metropolitan planning organizations that we strongly support them developing a transit master plan that links the historic jobs centers and the emergent edge cities with clean, fast public transit. Cleveland's HealthLine is a great success, and should be the model for building out a Bus-Rapid Transit system along major "arterial" roads. Thanks for hosting this conversation!  

 

Responses(1)

Nancy Reeves
on Jun 02, 2014

I'm seeing more bike traffic in Akron streets - several of which have sprouted well thought out bike lanes - but they are not protected.  So until there's more bike traffic, only the hard core bikers will feel comfortable using them.  I've started commuting to work once a week (16.6 miles).  I jump to the towpath for as much of it as I can manage, but that still leaves me with a little over 7 miles on the road, 5.25 of which are on heavily traveled unmarked roads.On my ride home Friday, I got buzzed by two trucks - one who was oblivious to where the side of his truck was & the second for sport (as near as I can tell).  That hasn't happened yet on the 1.9 miles where there are at least some roads marked for bikes & more bike traffic.  But - when I posted about my commute home on facebook, a very experieced bicyclist friend of mine noted that roadway felt too risky.  So protected options for bikes are important in order to convert even experienced bicyclists into bike commuters.NOACA also might look to Columbus for their bike share program - one way to increase bike traffic is to make access to bikes convenient.

 
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Bill Davis
From the Moderator: Bill Davis
on May 22, 2014 - 9:28 am

Good Morning.  Bill here to moderate and prompt discussion.  A question for our panelists and other participants - what does a multimodal transportation system mean to you?  David Beach and Rev. Allen V. Harris have already contributed thoughts on this earlier today.

 

Responses(2)

Eve Sandberg
on May 22, 2014

A mulitimodal transportation system should also include ways of intersecting various forms of transport. So at the train station we should have buses routes that take people back to their neighborhoods. We should have locked bike rack sheds as well.

 

 
David Beach
on May 22, 2014

Yes, a seamless system is very important -- moving from train to transit to bike to pedestrian environment. We can learn a lot from European cities about that.

 
Expand This Thread
John Sesek
on May 22, 2014 - 9:26 am

Bi-modal commuting (bus or train with bicycle) is practical and enjoyable.  I think some of the bus bike-racks could be maintained better, but in general I have few complaints with the RTA.  I think signs and striping (sharrows) also help to tame the street traffic and alert motorists to the presence of other road users.  Ironically perhaps, downtown Cleveland is much, much better for biking than the neighborhoods and suburbs.  We need to make at least some major arteries more bicycle friendly so that people can use bicycles for tranportation from all neighborhoods and suburbs.  We need more bike parking too, especially for sopping areas not in downtown.

 
David Beach
on May 22, 2014 - 9:19 am

Providing more transportation choices — including transit, biking, and walking — is one of the most important things we can do to make our communities more livable and sustainable. So I’m glad that NOACA is promoting this discussion about multimodal transportation.

Our current transportation system is unsustainable in multiple ways. It forces us to spend more and more time moving around instead of providing convenient access to what we need. It is increasingly unaffordable, as the high cost of cars and fuel consumes a larger proportion of household budgets. It is not maintainable, as hard-pressed governments can't afford to maintain the far-flung transportation infrastructure built in the past 50 years. It is damaging the natural systems that support life. And it often degrades the public realms of cities and towns where most people live.

The sustainable alternative would be a transportation system based on the following:

Walkable communities: Transportation depends on land use patterns. We need to change land-use planning, zoning, and development incentives so that Northeast Ohio builds more places that are compact and walkable—places where it’s convenient to live a car-free lifestyle. This will require reinvestment in the cities and towns that are the region’s historic clusters of development, and, it will require a new regional political consensus to stop facilitating low-density, automobile-dependent development.

Real choices: There are signs, especially among young people, that the so-called American love affair with the automobile is ending. More people want cheaper, healthier alternatives--walking, biking, transit. We need to invest more of our transportation dollars in the services and facilities that will make this possible. A good goal in Cleveland, for example, would be to increase bike commuting from less than 1 percent to 5 or 6 percent of trips, on par with leading U.S. cities.

The green, healthy, sustainable cities of the future (a model is Vancouver) are turning the conventional “transportation hierarchy” upside down. Instead of building infrastructure for cars first and then giving the left-over scraps of funding to other modes, they are making walking, biking, and transit the priorities. That is the future. And that is the transition we should be making for the cities in Northeast Ohio.

I look forward to seeing what other people have to say.

 

Responses(2)

Bill Davis
on May 22, 2014

Mr. Beach,

One could argue that the region's older legacy cities are prime real estate for re-establishment as multimodal transportation leaders.  Many once included a mix of cars, bicycles, buses, rail and even horse and carriage at an earlier time.  But what do you think would be the best approaches for younger cities that were not originally built with multiple modes in mind to accomplish transition to provision of multimodal choices?

Bill

 
David Beach
on May 22, 2014

Bill,

You’re right that older communities (i.e., places that developed before or during the street-car era) have good “bones” that make it easy for them to be multimodal. In planning terms, they have the 5 D’s — density of people and activities, diversity of land uses, design, destination accessibility, and distance to transit.

Newer communities often lack these features, which makes them inherently difficult to make multimodal. Indeed, the unfortunate fact in Northeast Ohio is that much of the region is built at such low density that it is not practical for transit or biking to be convenient modes of transportation.

However, one should still have a long-term vision for transition where possible. For instance, there are inspiring examples of suburban communities retrofitting failed shopping malls into walkable town centers. In our region, I would start by focusing on the existing Western Reserve town centers of the region – making investments that make them multi-use activity centers at higher density. Hudson is a good example. It has enlarged its small town center into a much larger district of shopping and civic uses within walking distance of surrounding residential areas.

 
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Rev. Allen V. Harris
on May 22, 2014 - 7:55 am

I would also add that a city with widely disparate income levels and a rich diversity of ethnicities needs greater access to public transportation as well as multimodal transportation options as a matter of justice.  I have frequently supported the extension of the Towpath Trail to downtown in part because it will give to residents at both Lakeview Tower and Estates and Riverview Tower access to healthy alternativs for recreation.  I am also keenly aware that a larger number of folks going to and from the West Side Market either on foot of via RTA are low-income and ethnically diverse families. So one could argue for both the health and economic vitality of our city we need a plan to invest in these transportation options.  

 

Responses(2)

Bill Davis
on May 22, 2014

Rev. Harris,

Great points.  What do you think are the best ways to increase awareness amongst those with greater means of their role in meeting the health and economic needs of their communities through addressing the transportation needs of the less fortunate?

Bill

 
Akshai Singh
on May 22, 2014

Rev. Harris is so right on. Many CLE neighborhoods rely on transit, with over 50% of households lacking access to a car in Central- the city average is 34%. This statistic also has very strong racial implications- when we ignore transit riders, we are perpetuating racism in our city planning and project funding.

Priveleged car drivers are only required to share the road with dedicated lanes for bikes and buses on Euclid Ave. There are plenty of other roads, like W. 25th, where full buses must defer to empty parked cars and single-passenger autos. Furthermore, the inequity is amplified when considering that Ohio City is the 2nd busiest transit area in the City, and that there are countless free parking spaces in every direction (especially the HUGE free surface lots East of W. 25th).While real estate developers like Ari Maron are working to create transit-oriented development, our CDCs are woefully behind at talking about transit equity. The CDCs are the upper-class medium to access the neighborhoods and transit riders. Time to expand their understanding of urban transportation.

 
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