Not every city bicycle lane project is welcomed by motorists, but the bike lanes going in on Cleveland this month have led to an unexpected bonus for drivers.
The long-anticipated repaving project has reconfigured the Midtown street to include buffered bike lanes, but it’s also made room for left vehicular turning lanes at stoplights at the street’s major intersections.
For years, drivers wanting to turn left from Cleveland onto Poplar, Jefferson, Madison, or Union had to do so in a parking lot or side street since left turns at those intersections were not allowed. But since the city is adding bicycle lanes up and down Cleveland, they’ve also been able to create a left turning lane.
National Association of City Transportation Officials
“One of the added benefits of the redesign is the fact that there is now a left turning lane continuously along Cleveland,” said Kyle Wagenschutz, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager. “When I was driving down Cleveland [one day last week], there were no fewer than eight cars waiting to turn left on Union. That wouldn’t have been possible a few weeks ago.”
The bike lanes going in on Cleveland — from Overton Park Avenue to Lamar — are still a work in progress, but when the repaving and striping project wraps up in a few weeks, those lanes will be completely protected from traffic along most of the street.
A buffer lane with white metal poles will separate car traffic from bicycle traffic, a configuration that hasn’t been possible with many of the city’s bicycle lane projects.
“The buffer zone will continue at least to Peabody. There’s a little section of Cleveland where the traffic circles are, and there was no room for a bike lane there,” Wagenschutz said. “On those couple of blocks, you have to share the road. But the buffers will resume at Harbert down to Lamar.”
The city will also be getting its first “bike box” on Cleveland at the Peabody intersection. A bike box is a large painted box on the street that allows cyclists to position themselves in front of cars lined up at a traffic light. Cars have to stop outside the bike box — about 10 feet back from where they normally would stop at an intersection — and let cyclists go first.