In 2016, Cleveland is celebrating the Year of Sustainable Transportation by supporting healthier forms of moving around the city and region. Celebration Years are a key element of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative, where every year leading up to 2019, Cleveland focuses on one of the key areas fundamental to a sustainable city. And nothing is more fundamental than creating livable cities through sustainable transportation. The Sustainable Cleveland Celebration Years are designed to help all members of the community take action — households, neighborhoods, businesses, and institutions can all participate, either in collaboration or independently. So the timing is perfect for Janette Sadik-Khan to be come to Cleveland. She’s not just a visionary, but an action-oriented visionary.
There are many actions Clevelanders can take, including biking, walking, taking transit, carpooling, car sharing and much more. Not only do these actions reduce roadway congestion and carbon pollution (the transportation sector is now the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S.), they also provide health benefits and improved air quality. In Northeast Ohio, we have many more of these benefits to reap -- about 70% of commuters in Northeast still drive alone to work. Janette’s talk will add more tools to our sustainable transportation toolbox as we look to continue progress in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.
Janette will be coming to a city that has been working hard to build a more sustainable and healthy transportation system. This year we’ve launched a bike share system, UHBikes, that will soon expand to 250 bikes across 29 stations. With the Bikeway Implementation Plan, we are on pace to add 70 miles of bike infrastructure in four years (2014-2017). Safe Routes to School has conducted walk audits at 69 K-8 school buildings to improve walking and biking conditions. With the #igoRTA campaign, more than 20 organizations across the city now give discounts to people who show their RTA ticket or pass. Planning has also begun for Midway Cycle Tracks, which would function like the HealthLine on Euclid Avenue, but for bikes instead of buses. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
While progress is clearly being made in many areas, much work remains, and now is the time to take that work to the next level. With public input, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) is developing a Long-Range Transportation Plan to help determine how to spend $13 billion transportation dollars by 2040. The City of Cleveland and its partners continue to explore approaches to implementing the Complete and Green Streets ordinance, including the next Bikeway Implementation Plan. And more investment is needed to meet current and unmet demand for public transit. Transit funding from Ohio’s General Revenue Fund has steadily decreased over the last 15 years. While Federal Highway money has made up some of the gap, much more is needed to ensure all Clevelanders can easily and affordably move around the city and get to jobs.
By working collaboratively, asking the right questions, and promoting innovative solutions, Janette Sadik-Khan was able to accomplish transformative action in New York City. This is the type of approach we need in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio to build off our momentum and scale up progress.
P.S. Looking to get a taste of healthy and sustainable mobility before the talk? Then join ciCLEvia, an open streets initiative launched in 2016, whereby streets are closed to cars and open to people-powered movement -- running, biking, yoga, hopscotch, and much more. The last ciCLEvia of the year will be Saturday, October 8th from 1-5pm on West 25th St, between Clark Ave. and MetroHealth.