The State of Biking in Cleveland @Bike_CLE

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Sat 1/24 @ 6:30pm

Taking a peek in the rearview mirror before pedaling on another trail is the idea behind the upcoming Bike Cleveland 2015 annual meeting scheduled for Sat 1/24 at Denison Avenue’s Sachsenheim Hall.

The affair includes Bike Cleveland leaders discussing last year’s accomplishments and this year’s goals with live music (The Sibs and The Exploding Lies), light appetizers and plenty of bike stories to boot.

Formed in 2011, Bike Cleveland boasts a mission to build livable communities by promoting all forms of cycling and advocating for the rights and equality of the cycling community. CoolCleveland talked to Bike Cleveland Executive Director Jacob VanSickle about expected topics that will be covered at the annual meeting.

CoolCleveland: First off, let’s begin with what Bike Cleveland accomplished in 2014.

Jacob VanSickle: We started raising awareness around our Midway campaign, which is a campaign for a network of protected bike lanes. We also worked with the City of Cleveland to install about 12 more miles of bike lanes, including some buffered bike lanes. We continued the launch of our public awareness campaign Ride Together with bus wraps and radio PSAs.

Going into 2014, how would you characterize accomplishments made last year?

They were pretty big. I think in terms of how many bike lanes the city has done over the prior two years, we had an increase of about 108 percent, which for the City of Cleveland is pretty impressive. Next year we’ll see about 15 to 20 miles more. It’s significantly getting towards the goal of having 70 new miles by 2017.

As far as goals for 2015, what does Bike Cleveland have planned?

We’re going to continue working with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission on [urban cycling festival] NeoCycle and the Forest City FunDo, which is kind of our signature ride that showcases Cleveland neighborhoods on bikes. That takes place in September. We’re going to re-launch a public awareness campaign and continue to advocate for more bike lanes on city streets. We’re going to be working with the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for a district-wide Safe Routes to School travel plan, which will identify actions and improvements that can be made to make biking and walking to school safer.

As far as an organization, does Bike Cleveland target the casual weekend rider or the more serious cross-country cyclist?

Our work impacts all different types of riders, from your typical person who on the weekend will ride the Towpath or the Metroparks all the way to your hardcore commuter who bikes throughout the winter. Anytime we’re raising the public awareness of there’s more people out there on bikes, it really benefits anybody who ever gets out on the bike just by people being more aware that they’re there, by having the facility that supports them to ride where they want to get to and by organizing events that really connect people to each other who are out on bikes.

Invariably, there are some people who either may not respect cyclists on the streets or have a misconception about cycling in general. What do you say to those folks?

I think the one thing I always like to see when you’re out on the bike, you’re really experiencing your community and neighborhood a little bit more than when you’re in a car. Biking isn’t really just about a hobby or people going out and doing something for fun, even though it is, but it’s good for people’s health. Cleveland has high rates of chronic illness, diabetes and people being overweight. It’s good for the environment. One more person on a bike is one less car polluting the air and fighting for parking spaces. It’s also good in terms of our work around really connecting people to each other and building community as well.

Finally, with all of the cold weather, snow and ice, how much are you looking ahead to spring?

I’m ready.

Bike Cleveland 2015 annual meeting takes places at 6:30 p.m. Sat 1/24 at Sachsenheim Hall, 7001 Denison Ave., Cleveland. Attendance is $20 or free if you join Bike Cleveland. 

http://bikecleveland.org

 

 

 

Freelance writer John Benson spends most of his time writing for various papers throughout Northeast Ohio.

When he’s not writing about music or entertainment, he can be found coaching his two boys in basketball, football and baseball or watching movies with his lovely wife, Maria. John also occasionally writes for CoolCleveland.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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