Yes, Cleveland does need a new Bike Plan

The City of Cleveland recently released an RFP to hire a consultant to complete a Citywide Mobility Plan to guide improvements for people walking, biking, and taking transit over the next five years (2024-2028). You can view the RFP here.

We all know the City of Cleveland loves plans, studies, and pilots. It’s a running joke among advocates and residents – we’ve become jaded over the decades seeing ambitious plans never implemented. Now that the City has announced its new Mobility Plan, we are hearing many of these same sentiments. While we understand the skepticism, Bike Cleveland has been advocating for an updated mobility plan since 2018, and we are excited to be engaged in the process. We want to see upgrades now and have been advocating for the protection of 27 miles of existing bike infrastructure. Still, we see the plan as necessary for several reasons:

2007 City of Cleveland Bike Plan Map

  1. Cleveland last created a comprehensive Bike Plan in 2007 (with an update to align investments with their roadway improvement projects in 2014). In 2007 George W. Bush was still president, Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” was #1 on the charts, and the very first iPhone was released. Bike Cleveland did not even exist at this time. It’s been a while, and the bike landscape has changed. That last time the city made a strategic plan for bike facilities, protected bike lanes were hardly a part of the conversation and new typographies have emerged in American cities. The Complete & Green Streets ordinance mandates an update to the bike plan every 5 years, ensuring that another long gap will be avoided. 
  2. Every great biking city has a bike plan. This is standard practice for all major cities so that infrastructure is built strategically & proactively–not solely on the schedule of which roadways need reconstruction or resurfacing. Without a plan, we risk seeing the city fall into old habits – only considering bike infrastructure when the street is otherwise being redone and including bicycle riders much too late in the design process.
  3. The Mobility Plan will get specific. The City has been intentional about making sure that this plan will not only identify the all-ages-and-abilities network, but will also identify facility types for those roads (i.e. 2-way cycletrack, off-street path, protected bike lane, etc.). It will also address policy opportunities to improve mobility. In addition, the plan will also identify quick-build projects that will help rapidly expand our active transportation network.
  4. Diverse & broad community engagement will support our movement. This planning process is an opportunity to engage with every Cleveland community around biking & walking. Among elected officials and decision-makers, there is still a damaging misconception that bicyclists in Cleveland are few and far between. It is also a common belief that riding a bike for transportation is most common among white, affluent communities. We know that thousands of Clevelanders don’t have a car and rely on other forms of transportation – including bikes. Meaningful community engagements will challenge the belief still held among many decision-makers that people in Cleveland don’t ride bikes.
  5. The new plan will address more than just bikes. This process will engage with the RTA, public transit advocates, shared-mobility operators, the disability community, and more to address the needs of all mobilities. While these stakeholders have collaborated more closely with one another, this plan will give ourselves & our partners shared vision and goals.

Cleveland households without access to a car

Bike Cleveland sees this planning process as a great opportunity to leverage our advocacy & accelerate the built infrastructure we all want to see in Cleveland. If, for whatever reason, this plan does become a hindrance to getting infrastructure on the ground, you can count on us to continue to advocate. We will be engaging all of our supporters in this planning process and are counting on you to help us ensure the plan addresses the wants and needs of people biking and walking.

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