Advocating for Bike and Ped Access in Cleveland, With a Beat

A couple of months ago, we wrote about Clevelanders protesting a $450 million rebuilding of the city’s Innerbelt Bridge that fails to include bike and pedestrian access. Since then, the Ohio Department of Transportation has dug in its heels, saying that there is no time to make any amendments to the environmental impact statement on the project before a March 2 deadline.

But Streetsblog Network member Green City Blue Lake says that bike lane advocates aren’t giving in yet, and are determined to use the time between now and March 2 to continue pushing for amendments to the bridge plan. Yesterday, they posted the video above to spread the word. Here are some of the lyrics:

Those who don’t have a car still do
Pay public infrastructure taxes too
So why can’t those who don’t have a car
Use the bridge in their own backyard?…

All kinds of traffic should be delivered
Up over the Cuyahoga River
If they drive a bike or just walk around
Give everyone a way to get downtown.

Let’s keep Cleveland on the right track.
Take a step forward not a step back
Now is the chance if we answer the call
To build a bridge that connects us all.

 They’ve got some support at the City Council level. From a GCBL post earlier this week:

"When you design a bridge, you don’t design it just for cars, you design
it for people," Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone told ODOT Innerbelt
Project Manager Craig Hebebrand at [a February 8th] Cleveland Planning
Commission [meeting]. "Why should the citizens of Cleveland settle for second
class? We should demand [a multi-use path on the bridge] from the
design phase. We should demand something better. Let’s see what the
prices come in. In Shanghai and in Portland they are designing bridges
for people."

Hebebrand said it’s too late from ODOT’s perspective to make any
changes. "There’s no way to physically amend the documents to add the
addendum in time."

Planning Commission member Lillian Kuri, however, got Hebebrand to
admit that there will be many addendums to the Environmental Impact
Statement before the end. Adding an addendum to that EIS for a bike/ped
multi-use path now should not be used an excuse, Kuri said.

Advocates agree, and we charge that we have 25 days, or 220 hours
until ODOT’s imposed March 2 deadline. We also contend that where
there’s a will, there’s a way. The comments from Councilman Matt Zone
illustrate this sentiment; and given Hebebrand’s assertions, it is
perhaps proof positive that the issue transcends ODOT and its usual
bureaucracy, and so it’s time to move up the chain of command.

We’ll keep following this story.

  • Wow! Who knew that Cleveland native Aaron Naparstek could rap with such soulful conviction? or that he would look so fresh with a beard?! Aaron: Kudos for spreading your wings so widely in your post Streetsblog career!!

  • All I can say is ODOT is extremely whack. Or something like that.

  • And people wonder why it’s so common these days for Ohioans to flock to New York City. You think it might have something to do with the walkability of our bridges?

    Obviously I’m not seriously implying that Ohioans are moving to the East Coast specifically so that they can cross major urban bodies of water on foot and bike. But the point is, given what we have seen lately with major bike and pedestrian improvements in small- and medium-sized cities, folks across the country are finally started to wake up and see that our generation prefers to live in walkable, urban environments, and is beginning to structure public policy and public works projects accordingly.

    Wake up, Ohio! The days of the auto-worship are drawing to a close! Either adapt, or sit by and watch your cities continue to become irrelevant!

  • our generation prefers to live in walkable, urban environments

    Jeff, it’s cheaper to share an apartment in New York and take transit everywhere than to live in a midwestern city and have to insure and maintain a car. You could use the same rhetorical technique to reason that people with limited resources “prefer” instant noodles to more nutrient-laden diets.

  • I don’t understand how in 2010 someone can design a bridge near downtown and not think to add pedestrian and bike facilities.

  • Jonathan:

    That’s fine if economics are the reason our generation prefers to live in walkable, urban environments. I don’t care why this trend is happening, but the point is, the trend is happening. So if cities like Cleveland want to retain and attract younger residents and remain viable, then they’re going to have to adapt.

  • If they are taking Federal funds for the project there is probably a good legal footing to sue ODOT.

    I’ve only looked at the area on Google but there does seem to be a number of other bridges across the river but locals say that they are highly inconvenient.

    Still ODOT suffers from the typical DOT myopia that doesn’t consider Bike-Ped infrastructure from the beginning and then holds public hearings to “gather public input” after all the engineers have made up their minds.

  • I don’t understand how in 2010 someone can design a bridge near downtown and not think to add pedestrian and bike facilities.

    Cleveland’s decision-makers have been busy wrecking and gutting the city and moving into ever-further eastern suburbs going on 40 years now. Why stop now? When you’ve turned most of your downtown into a giant surface parking lot, why plan for any other mode than cars? It’s very sad.

  • Jeff: I would add that the ped/bike access on this bridge is not only important for attracting young people, but vastly important for the people who have been living here all their lives, without a car… there are many carless homes in neighborhoods (tremont, downtown, central) adjacent to this project.

    Andy: There in fact has been a lawsuit filed against ODOT!

  • Emilio,

    Good luck with that lawsuit. I hope you set a precedent!

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