Cleveland’s Unique Take on Rails to Trails: Streetcar Lines to Bike Lanes

unique take on rails to trails - streetcar lines to bike lanes

The Rails to Trails movement has a wide variety of transportation repurposing projects to its credit: from New York City’s High Line – a park/walking space on an old railroad trestle – to Missouri’s state-spanning Katy Trail. In Cleveland, clean transportation proponents have take a look at former streetcar rights-of-way, and thought “Hey… those could make good protected bike lanes.” They could also bring some economic activity to locations largely deserted since the streetcar ran by them.

That’s the genesis of the Midway project, which Cynthia Shahan from Cleantechnica has covered in more detail…

Cleveland Bike Lanes Where Old Streetcar Lanes Once Flourished

August 22nd, 2014 by 

Many America cities revolved around streetcars in the last century. In Cleveland, the streets Lorain, Superior, and Euclid were core to the city’s streetcar system, running to all of the city’s neighborhoods. As cars crept in and replaced streetcars, these core modes of trransport and cosmopolitan life fell away. Streetcar tracks paved with cement left wide empty streets longing for more stores. The streets showed vacancies due to population shifts to the suburbs and lack of nearby pedestrians and streetcar riders in wait.

But Clevelanders now propose to bring activity back to these areas. Local bicycle advocates intend to bring about a more diverse transportation system in Cleveland once again. Their proposal, named Midway, will manifest as green, landscaped, center-running, two-way bike lanes traversing the city, right where the former streetcar lanes once flourished.

Image from Streetsblog http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/08/12/the-plan-to-build-bicycle-highways-where-clevelands-streetcars-once-ran/ Image: Bialosky & Partners, via Streetsblog

St. Clair Superior Development loved the idea and transformed St. Clarie Avenue (see visualization above). Joining with the Midway team, they built this first segment with a grant from the Kresge Foundation.

Barb Clint, a board member at Bike Cleveland, the city’s bike advocacy group, and another Bike Cleveland board member, John McGovern, initiated the Midway plan. “It seems so obvious to me,” said Barb Clint, director of community health and advocacy at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland.

Clint continues in Streetsblog: ”We have these massive streets, with severely low volumes of traffic. They’re not comfortable to walk along, they’re not comfortable to bike along because people are driving so fast. We can’t preach at people and tell them they should be more physically active if we’re not providing them safe places to do so.”

The streetcar lanes run throughout the city. Advocates believe with some paint and bollards, this transformation will be inexpensive and scaled up if it does well. Image From Streetsblog http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/08/12/the-plan-to-build-bicycle-highways-where-clevelands-streetcars-once-ran/ Other bike path stories show the widespread transition of city streets to include bike lanes. Check out these cool ideas and other news:

The Copenhagenize Flow

$600 Pop-Up Protected Bike Lane Makes the Case for Permanent Bikeways

Bike Paths and Sidewalks: Transportation Investments that Work

Lego-Like, Elegant Bike Lanes That Snap Together

Toronto Doctors Argue Bike Lanes Save Lives

Take An Apple & A Bike-Share A Day; Boston Doctors Prescribing Bicycling

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