The Midway Cleveland
The Midway Bicycle Network: Designing Cleveland with Equity in Mind
A group of urban-minded cycling advocates and local cycling organization Bike Cleveland are proposing a citizen-driven project, The Midway, a protected cycle track network re-utilizing the historic infrastructure of Cleveland’s former streetcar lines. The project was born out of two essential questions: For whom are we designing our city for? Are we doing so with equity in mind? The design team was engaged by Bike Cleveland to give both vision and voice to these questions, to engage stakeholders and project partners to bring the Midway to reality.
Designed with the intuitive logic of a color-coded subway system, The Midway will connect residents to employment centers and regional assets, such as Cleveland’s vast and iconic park system, coined the “Emerald Necklace”. In time, the Midway can be easily expanded beyond Cleveland’s borders to include surrounding communities. When built, this human-scale infrastructure will provide Cleveland with a resilient and equitable transportation system.
This project is possible due to the legacy of our region’s streetcar era. From 1860 until 1954, residents of all ages relied on the streetcars to get to work, school, Metroparks or a ballgame. At its peak in 1946, a record 493 million passengers used the streetcar system which encompassed 236 miles of tracks. As the trolleys disappeared, the public space was simply converted to travel lanes for cars and truck use. Today, the combination of Cleveland’s lower population and excessively wide former streetcar thoroughfares present a ready opportunity for Cleveland residents and visitors to embrace active transportation within a safe and inviting environment.
Think of the Midway as a bicycle expressway network, with controlled on and off access points, but overlaid atop our city’s existing streets. Separated cycle tracks are an innovative form of urban cycling infrastructure giving continuous physical protection to cyclists, while still being a part of the curb to curb street right of way. This typology is safer for cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicular traffic, making urban streets safe and comfortable for all users from “8 to 80”.
The Midway is the type of infrastructure that cities, particularly legacy cities of America’s Rust Belt, should be investing in to stay relevant in the 21st century. The Midway is not a cycling infrastructure project. It is an economic investment, public transit, streetscape, ecological, and neighborhood livability project that provides significant investment to the most vulnerable of Cleveland neighborhoods.
As a result of the Bialosky led conceptual planning, the City of Cleveland Planning Department signed on as a project partner to help bring the vision to fruition. In 2015 the City of Cleveland Planning Department and Bike Cleveland partnered on an application Cleveland's metro planning organization, NOACA, to fund a Transportation for Liveable Communities Initiative (TLCI) planning study. The application received funding and is currently in planning by a team lead by Smith Group.