CLEVELAND - Cycling is enjoying a boom in Cleveland and with that boom; the city recently passed an ordinance aimed at making cycling safer.
But while encouraging motorists to be more aware of cyclists in the city, cyclists play a role in their own safety by following the rules of the road as well.
“Passing them (parts of the ordinance) is a landmark, but I think the biggest piece is the education and the public awareness," said Jacob VanSickle, executive director of Bike Cleveland , a cycling advocacy organization.
Key components of the ordinance are a minimum three feet of clearance motorists should allow when passing a bike (or moving into another available lane), not blocking or parking in a bike lane and intersection safety.
Avoiding the “right hook”, where a car will pass a cyclist just before an intersection then turn right into the path of the bike, is among the intersection safety measures. It was such a maneuver by a truck driver that killed cyclist Sylvia Bingham in 2009.
Cyclist John McGovern, also with Bike Cleveland, said he believes in sharing the road, but realizes his bike is often at a disadvantage.
“The motorist, I think we’re all motorists, should give the cyclist a little bit of slack understanding we are very vulnerable users,” he said.
Both VanSickle and McGovern agree most, but not all cyclists, follow traffic laws.
"If cyclists really want to be respected on the road, we need to act like actual vehicles like we are. Making sure we’re stopping at red lights, stopping at stop signs,” said VanSickle.
Local police departments do ticket cyclists for not following traffic laws.
Both men often have had motorists yell at them to get on the sidewalks. According to VanSickle, riding on sidewalks in business districts is against the law and the sidewalk may be an even more dangerous place than riding in the street.
“Most bike crashes happen on the sidewalk, be it with youth or with adults, because people don’t expect bikes to be on the sidewalk,” he said.
The Ohio City Bicycle Co-op offers safe biking classes dealing with traffic laws pertaining to bikes.
The League of American Bicyclists lists the four most common errors of cyclists as: riding facing traffic, riding from a driveway or an alley into a street, failure to yield when changing lanes and failure to yield to crossing traffic.
McGovern has four principles he believes cyclists should follow, "Be predictable, be visible, be alert and be assertive on the road."
He has a positive view for the future of co-existence among pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
“All these users of the road, let’s all work together. Let’s respect each other,” he said.
“There’s absolutely enough room on the road for all of us,” VanSickle said.
The folks at Tower City have upgraded the bike racks in front of the Terminal Tower next to the Horseshoe Casino. Gone is the playground-style rack from the 60s and installed are sleek black posts.
Bike to Work Day
The May event was such a success, a July Ride to Work Day has been added. The July 27 date will include more events and be more of an all-day event than its May counterpart.
Bring your shovel
The Towpath is inching its way northward and a groundbreaking on July 30 is helping it go through Cleveland.
The Scranton Road Peninsula segment of the Towpath will be Cleveland's first publicly funded section.
This section of the trail will include a terracing of the riverbank to help restore the vegetation in the area and aid in the restoration of aquatic life in the Cuyahoga River.
As part of the ceremony at 11 a.m. at 1871 Scranton Rd., the public is invited to bring a shovel to join in with dignitaries. The open-shovel invite is in keeping with the Towpath Trails commitment to public access.
If you bring a shovel, you'll be eligible to win a $100 gift certificate to LockKeepers.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, Cleveland Metroparks Executive Director Brian Zimmerman and Ohio Canal Corridor Executive Director Tim Donovan will be speaking at the event.
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