Proposals to build protected bicycle lanes on Lorain and Superior avenues are nearing approval from Cleveland City Council.
In one project, the city would build a bicycle midway down the middle of Superior Avenue from Public Square to East 55th Street. It would cost an estimated $25 million, with the city covering about $4.5 million and federal dollars paying much of the rest of the bill.
The Lorain Avenue project would include a cycle track on one side of Lorain, set apart from traffic by a buffer. The work would stretch about 1.8 miles from West 65th Street to West 22nd Street. So far, the city has raised about half of the $30 million estimated project cost.
Council’s Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee signed off on the legislation at a meeting Tuesday morning. The measures could go to the Finance Committee and on to a full council vote as soon as Jan. 23.
City officials have talked for years about the plans for Superior and Lorain. Both appeared in a 2017 proposal imagining a network of cycle tracks, and the Lorain project dates back even earlier.
Members of Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration on Tuesday pitched the work as a way to make Cleveland streets safer and less stressful for bicyclists. This year, the administration is examining how to build off of a “spine” of bicycle paths that are either completed or in the works, Annie Pease of the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects told council.
“The work we have ahead of us is to figure out how this spine, how we can connect smaller bones, or arteries, off of that spine and make better connections into the neighborhoods or other destinations,” she said.
Although the committee approved the Superior legislation, council members voiced some concerns. Ward 15 Council Member Jenny Spencer cautioned the administration that maintaining greenery around the bikeways could become more time- and labor-consuming than expected. Ward 13’s Kris Harsh questioned the value of building a protected bikeway that abruptly ends at busy East 55th.
“I’m a huge fan of off-road bicycle tracks, because it’s the safest way for me to travel when I’m on my bike, away from cars,” Harsh said. “This puts me right in the middle of traffic and then dumps me in the middle of traffic.”
James DeRosa, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects, said the administration’s forthcoming planning process would look to answer questions like those.
The bikeway would occupy space on Superior just outside the ArtCraft building, which the Bibb administration has proposed as a new police headquarters. Asked whether the bikeway would interfere with police traffic, DeRosa told council it would not.
Construction on Superior could begin by summer 2025, and preliminary design work on Lorain could start later this year, according to the presentation given to council.
Council Member Stephanie Howse, whose Ward 7 includes much of the Superior project, said the new bikeway would give Clevelanders a chance to become more comfortable riding on city streets.
“As I have gone to other cities, I actually have tried to ride the e-bikes and stuff like that, and I’ve enjoyed it because I wasn’t afraid,” she said. “Here, I have not done any such thing, because I am scared to get on a bike and go down the street.”