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Westlake bikeway plan would be longterm project

While full implementation of a bicycle path plan for the city could take two or three decades to fully realize, a short-term version of such a network could be started in the next two to three years.

A preliminary report on the feasibility of a Westlake bike path network was presented at a public meeting May 4 at Westlake City Hall.

Last year, the city received a $50,000 grant from Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) to analyze the potential for a bicycle transportation network in Westlake. A local contribution of $12,500 of city money was required to receive the grant. The money paid only toward the study; construction of any new bike paths will require additional funds.

The study, done by the Floyd Browne Group, an Ohio-based planning and engineering firm, sought ideas from residents at a public meeting held in October and conducted a Internet survey of local bicyclists.

Jeff Kerr, Floyd Browne’s director of sustainable practices, said a preliminary bike path network would consist mainly of “shared roadways,” regular roads that bicyclists share with motor vehicles but are designated as bike routes. On shared roadways, bicyclists would cycle in a paved shoulder or wide outside curb lane. Signage and painted symbols on the pavement would indicate such roads were designated for bikes as well as cars.

Under the Floyd Browne Group’s recommendation, the preliminary bike network would also include widening the sidewalk to 10 feet on Crocker Road from Crocker Park to Center Ridge Road. Sidewalks on Center Ridge Road would also be widened from Dover Center Road to Schwartz Road. That bike route would then continue westward with a widened sidewalk on Schwartz to Crocker Road.

In the longer term, Kerr said, the Westlake bikeway plan would consist of widened sidewalks and all-purpose trails in addition to shared roadways. The network would also include bike lanes, such as the ones the city opened in 2007 on Hilliard Boulevard between the Rocky River border and Dover Center Road.

A “Westshore Loop,” connecting of destinations such as Crocker Park, Clague Park and the Huntington Metroparks Reservation in Bay Village, would form the main outline for the network. Additional, smaller routes would branch inward and outward from the main loop.

The Floyd Browne Group’s report identified nearly 50 routes or sections of routes that would make up the bikeway plan. The costs for bringing bike paths to each section generally range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars, with the total cost of building the bikeway plan totaling tens of millions of dollars.

But such costs could be greatly reduced if bike lanes and paths are added incrementally over the years as the city performs scheduled maintenance work or repaves each section.

“There’s no magic number in the end,” Kerr said of the plan’s cost.

In the short term, Kerr said, the city could also take numerous actions to promote bike riding and bike safety. These measures include:

  • developing design guidelines for bike lanes, widened sidewalks and all-purpose trails
  • adding bike racks at popular locations
  • creating a publicity program making motorists aware that Westlake is a “bike friendly community”
  • increasing police enforcement of traffic laws on roads with bike paths (Hilliard)

Kerr said the final study would be completed in about a month.

Westlake Planning and Economic Development Director Bob Parry, himself a cycling enthusiast, said whether or not the plan comes to fruition depends on how much the city is willing to invest.

The idea seems to have the support of interested residents, he said.

“Now we’ll see if City Council and the (Mayor Dennis Clough) administration support it,” Parry said.

 

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