by Frank Lewis
Cleveland’s small but lately tenacious Critical Mass crew has not yet made the Innerbelt Bridge a part of their monthly bicycle ride (which they note does not block traffic, but shows the motoring world that they are part of traffic). But one wonders what it would take for anyone who is not driving a car or truck to get any consideration from the massive load of bureaucratic inertia that is ODOT.
Cyclists and alternative transportation advocates have for years been attempting to persuade the state transportation agency to include a multipurpose path — separate from the motor vehicle lanes — on the planned new Innerbelt Bridge. Such a path would offer bicycle and foot commuters — and even people who just come to check out what will be stunning views — equal access to what will be one of the most expensive transportation projects in the state.
And they are not alone: The City of Cleveland Planning Commission has steadily supported the idea, to the point that late in January they approved a resolution supporting the inclusion of such a path in ODOT’s request for proposals. Among the many other supporters are former Cleveland Planning Director and Jane Campbell chief of staff Chris Ronayne, industrialist Dan T. Moore, and Congressman Dennis Kucinich. But the RFP went out earlier this week without indicating that bidders on the $450 million design/build contract should include bike/pedestrian lane in the plan.
But since the design has not yet been chosen, the game is not over, says Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op director Jim Sheehan. He’s encouraging supporters to come and make themselves heard Friday morning (February 5) when ODOT officials will attend the Planning Commission meeting.
If you think a half-billion-dollar “signature bridge” connecting Tremont to Downtown — which would have spectacular views of the city, river valley, and Lake Erie, and which will connect two of Cleveland’s most attractive neighborhoods — ought to offer equal access for all, including the one-out-of-four Clevelanders who don’t own cars, then this is the meeting for you. It’s at 9 a.m. Friday, February 5 at City hall Room 514. For background on how badly ODOT has managed this project, check out this recent installment of WCPN's The Sound of Ideas. — Michael Gill