“Where are the best bike paths in Cleveland? Do your public parks allow mountain biking? Can you connect me to a local bike club so I can join a group for a 20-miler on weekends and get to know the best surface roads to ride on? Where can I get my bike tuned up this spring?”
These kinds of questions were coming up so frequently on EA orientation days that we decided to devote one of our monthly continuing education outings to biking in Northeast Ohio! For our March EA University, we spent a morning with Jacob VanSickle, the executive director of Bike Cleveland. Very few people know more about all things bicycle than Jacob. This article is a great resource for Northeast Ohio newcomers and natives alike!
Who is Bike Cleveland?
Bike Cleveland is an advocacy nonprofit for people on bikes in the Greater Cleveland area. They have three full-time staffers and 16 board members representing over 1,000 dues-paying members and 32 local businesses. Although their primary focus is on the City of Cleveland, a lot of their work juts out into the suburbs. They have chapters and local advocates in Lakewood, Cleveland Heights, Chagrin Valley, Parma, Euclid, and Brecksville. Their mission is “creating a region that is sustainable, connected, healthy, and vibrant by promoting bicycling and advocating for safe and equitable transportation for all.”
Bike Cleveland regularly leads bike outings with local council people and city engineers so they can see firsthand issues, needs, and opportunities. They also meet with local police departments so they understand bike laws and bicyclist rights. Annually, they do Random Acts of Brightness where volunteers give out bike lights at night when they notice bicyclists that don’t have them.
Is biking safe in Cleveland?
Bike Cleveland is expanding their reach to include safety and education for both pedestrians and bicyclists. 60% of people surveyed said they’d love to bike more but just don’t feel able to safely do so in busy, urban environments. This is where Bike Cleveland can help!
They work with city planners whenever a street is being resurfaced to ensure that a possible bike lane or sharrow lane is included. What’s a sharrow lane you ask? In Ohio, every roadway except for limited access freeways are shared roadways between cars and bicyclists. A sharrow lane has a painted chevron pattern on it and indicates a shared lane, reminding cars that they may encounter bicyclists. On busier streets, Bike Cleveland advocates for a protected bike lane with a physical barrier. A great example is the Detroit Superior Bridge leading from downtown to Ohio City. In addition, Phase 2-3 of the Opportunity Corridor (now under construction) will have a dedicated space for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Bike Cleveland encourages city planners and engineers to be forward thinking! Every road should be safe for bicyclists, pedestrians, and cars.
Is biking convenient in Cleveland?
Bike Cleveland was instrumental in the advocacy for more bike racks. You have probably seen the many Bike Boxes in Downtown Cleveland, University Circle, and the near west side. They helped to launch the bike share program – UH Bikes – which now offers 250 shared bikes at 32 stations. There are hopes of expanding UH Bikes into the inner ring suburbs as well.
How does my family get involved?
In Jacob’s opinion, one of the best bikes for Northeast Ohio is a Cyclocross bike because of its thicker tires. There are so many bike shops, clubs, and trails for those looking to join in on the fun.
Cleveland also has great bicycling clubs for newcomers! The Cleveland Touring Club is a great place to start on the east side. For west-siders, check out the Lake Erie Wheelers. Jacob said that one of the best newcomer urban rides starts at the Cleveland Metropark at the E. 55th Street Marina then follows Marginal Road to the Harrison-Dillard Bikeway along MLK.
Biking is such a healthy habit to develop early in kids. Encouraging them to walk or bike to school is great for them and the environment. The kids get exercise and the carbon footprint is lowered. Currently, only 0.6% of children bike to school in Cleveland. Bike Cleveland collaborates with Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op. They take donated bikes and fix them up to donate them to kids in need.
Where are the bike trails?
Here are a few recommended trails in the area:
- Cleveland Metroparks Trails
- Cleveland Velodrome
- East Rim Mountain Bike Trails
- Medina Trails
- Mohican Malabar Bike Club
- Ohio Mountain Bike Trails
- Ray’s MTB
- Vultures Knob Trail
And, trails are ever expanding. Bike Cleveland is currently working with a group that is building a bridge over they Cuyahoga so bicyclists can go directly from the Flats to Wendy Park without having to go to Edgewater and flip back around.
For mountain bikers, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail has a one-mile mountain bike loop beginning at E. 49th Street off of I-77. There are Cleveland Metroparks trails at the Bedford Reservation and Mill Stream Run Reservation.
How can I support biking in Cleveland?
- You can join Bike Cleveland!
- You can buy a beer. A portion of sales for Fat Head’s Trail Head Pale Ale is donated to the Cleveland Metroparks Trails Fund.
- You can attend the 2019 Bike Cleveland Fundo on Saturday, September 7th. It is a fully supported ride for all ages and abilities. It begins at Edgewater Park, and you can choose to ride 10, 30, or 60 miles!