Introducing the Velomobile

Submitted by johnmcgovern on Wed, 04/04/2007 - 10:56.

Go-One velomobile

The bi/tricycle of the future, an enclosed recumbent known as a velomobile, has arrived in the USA in form of a space-age looking pod with trunk space as well as hybrid-electric technology that provides electric assist for steep hills and charges from your pedaling motion. The velomobile pictured is the GO-One . Velomobiles enables year round cycling, though it would seem smooth surfaces are preferred.  While  there are certainly advantages  to  a traditional  upright bicycle, there are  also numerous disadvantages.  However,  lets bask in this revolutionary transportation technology and we can discuss the downsides later....

Human Powered Vehicles will drive human powered places

As you and Kevin Cronin have pointed out in past postings, this area is not strong in bike paths - and now is the best time to appreciate the poor condition of all our roads, at their worst after winter weather and plowing. On my bike, I can jump and avoid hazards and feel up high enough to fight traffic and boneheaded drivers... I don't know how I would feel riding a recumbent, even though it makes such good sense.

That said, the arrival of more alternative human powered vehicles raises the importance of discussing improving road conditions for HPVs. What would be a great route? Euclid, from Public Square to University Circle, and all points in between. The plan shows "Areas for bicycles from Cleveland State University to Case Western Reserve University", which are mixed use car/bike lanes. Not what I would call HPV-friendly. We need HPV lanes to become a core planning priority for all new road and development planning projects (e.g. are bike lanes and racks planned for all those public road improvements for the Wolstein development in the Flats)?

I look forward to seeing this issue surface as a top planning priority for this region. Those parts of the region that are human scale should really focus on HPV routes and amentities - that will be a reason people choose to live in Ohio City or Lakewood rather than Strongsville or Pepper Pike in the future... at least for the human-powered-people.

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The GCRA bought the property at 6611 Euclic and chopped off the front of the building .

They paid a million for the building which now sits idle, attracting acute liability. The RTA bought the building ostensibly so they could widen Euclid to dock the new Euclid buses to take on passengers. 

How about a HPV lane or a separate bike lane on Euclid?  Did the RTA get there?   I don't think so. (I really don’t like to criticize the RTA, as I think they run a decent ship and the we-love-automobiles-with-a-fetish american consumer deck is stacked against public transit)

For our atmospheric destroying cars we will salt and plow and patch and pave and widen and traffic control and improve dead man's curve until the gas tax runs out.  But install well paved bike and HPV lanes separate from the deadly fuming trucks and cars?   Keep them free of snow in the winter so riders can commute 365?  I don't think so. 

In Germany, and in Holland, and all across Europe, bike lanes are physically separated from the auto traffic.  Bike lanes have their own traffic signals.  You can be comfortable sending your 10 year old to school on a bike.  Here in the good ole usofa your kid would need serious life insurance and the parent would need to see a psychiatrist if they sent their school kids pedaling off to grade school. 


Instead of the Disadvantaged Triangle Freeway,  ODOT should build a bike trail along the RTA tracks from University Circle to Terminal Tower.  That would be money well spent.  And every day and all weekend it would be full of whizzing commuters and on the week ends families enjoying themselves. 

Making pedestrians and cyclists a priority

I looked at the plans for the Silver Line today and they are just aweful. A ribbon of complex lanes of motor vehicles - one shared lane part of the way for bicycles. As you are in Toronto, the concept is somewhat like Spadina Ave... what is different between here and there is that in Toronto the public matters, whereas here cars and trucks matter. Best example... try out a crosswalk and see if vehicles stop... try that here and I'll visit you at Metrohealth ER.

This point really came home to me this winter when I noticed how the snow plows would clear the streets just enough for cars and trucks, in complete disregard for cyclists and pedestrians. They are clearly considered second-class citizens in NEO. I think it is this top down lack of respect for humans that makes the population at large disrespect humans - I hate riding a bike in NEO....

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snow and respect for humans

My husband and I had a conversation about interconnectedness the other day. He was telling me about the demolition projects going on in the city. You know that the city has allocated millions for demolishing condemned houses and structures in the city in Frank Jackson’s new budget, right? This new plan is visible along Carnegie Avenue where so many buildings that sat boarded up for years have been razed. I suggested that when the city plants grass there, they should really be considering planting natives or sunflowers or mustard to clean the soil. He said they are just grading the lots toward the street and putting up bollards so that cars cannot drive on to the lots. No grass is planted yet. He also added that he thought it would be costly to plant grass, so he doubted it was in the city's budget planning. Well, I said, they need to plant something or the runoff from these sites will be deleterious to the sewer system which will fill with the soil eroding from the lots.  He said he doubted a bobcat or other machinery could get onto the lots to prepare for planting. Jesus!  We continued the conversation saying that we need an integrated approach. If the city cannot plant, they might contact OSU Extension or the NEORSD or Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation or the local CDCs to address the fact that they are clearing land just as the spring rains approach.

This past winter while walking our dogs I encountered snow covered sidewalks and some with huge piles of snow cleared from driveways and piled high on sidewalks -- blatant disrespect for pedestrians. In other areas near a school and Martha's new place of employment the Height Youth Center, the city plows had piled snow from the street right onto the sidewalks making them impassable so that kids walking to and from the High School or the Youth Center had to walk in Lee Road. When I called the person responsible (at the Cedar Lee SID) she reported that even when their plows cleared the sidewalks there, the city plows put the street snow right back onto the sidewalks. I suggested she contact the city to work out a plan to better integrate the timing of these plowing operations so the sidewalks could be passable.

The thread here? It is about not living in a vacuum and realizing that even though you may not have everything you need to make a better situation, you can reach out to others to get closer to something desirable. It is not enough to raze a house and walk away saying I have done my part. It is not enough to make a pass at a sidewalk with your plow or snow blower and go home when a half hour behind you someone undoes your work. We will need to work together to address the simple things that make life for those who do not go from garage to garage livable. It may require more thought and more working together, but it can be done.

Notes from Lead Advisory Council Meeting on demolitions

$6 million for demolitions. The Infrastructure and Sustainability (I&S) sub-committee, of the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council (GCLAC) had people from Cleveland Building and Housing and Law Departments talk to us about demolition and lead poisoning. Here are some of the notes, which includes comments on greening the lots:

The city is accelerating spending on this and the pace of demolishing abandoned properties – this is the biggest push in his department. In 2006, the city spent $1.7-1.8 million for demolition and board up of around 125 structures. For 2007, city council and the mayor increased the budget to $6 million and will demolish 700 houses. Going after structures that have been blighted the longest and/or represent the greatest problems.


Regarding concern for specific toxic hazards related to each property, including lead and asbestos, the city demolition chief has 20 years experience and is expert in hazard control – lead and asbestos – even if EPA doesn't require intervention, they take extra steps.

Stu asks if there is reason to worry, with the accelerated demolition schedule, that there will be adequate inspection to go with demolition? Concern about lead dust and residue left around a blighted property during and after demolition.

Stu offers to send a copy of a study from Youngstown on this issue, when Ron expresses interest in more information.

Ron explains the B&H department has met with Cleveland Botanical Gardens to try and better plan landscaping of property that has been cleared and is now in the city landbank. Interests include low mow grass seeding and other ways to improve sites until redeveloped. CBG is looking to have more community gardens. CBG has done testing and found very few sites are contaminated with lead to dangerous level – they have a contract for testing with University of Massachusetts, at $60 per site – plan in 2008 to work on bigger basis at using these lots for gardens.


Ultimately, there is a strong multi-departmental effort to address all this and it is working. A priority is determining how to direct resources to most strategic blight elimination and economic redevelopment plans.

Paul asks if there is additional information that building and housing department could use from any departments and organizations of GCLAC to help determine best demolition practices and priorities?

Ron explains they work with other departments – if they have pealing paint inspection they forward it to department of health – one B&H administrator connects the departments and issues. Christine confirmed the Department of Health works with Housing on these issues.

Paul points out he was just at a meeting of county agencies – 350 foreclosure sales a week going to auction. They are working on virtual case folder to allow public to find out more about foreclosure cases. We can find out who plaintiff is on case by case basis but would like to have this in one database to sort by largest parties so they can work more constructively. Judge Pianka met with foreclosure bar a few weeks ago to look at related issues – all parties are exploring what can each side do to address this issue

Norm asks how do you prioritize what cases go to demolition?

Ron explains as they increase demolition activity, enabled through larger budget, they are setting priorities – focusing on main thoroughfares, areas where development is taking place, worst first, near schools , and clustering. Also looking at large commercial properties that involve more work – asked economic development to look at where there is greatest need and opportunities.

Stu asks who at Cleveland Botanical Gardens is involved with green space planning and community gardens.

Ron suggests contacting Director Natalie Ronayne

Norm asks what is the trend ahead with abandoned properties and foreclosures?

Ron states they haven't bottomed out yet. But, as a result of these trends and the focus on dealing with abandoned properties and foreclosures, Cleveland has significant amounts of land being made available for new development – offers lots of opportunity with planning, economic development and community development.

Paul points out it is exciting Building and Housing is considering foreclosure inspection units. Asks if there would be any assurance inspectors have latest information on lead concerns... would Department of Health help make sure this is coordinated?

Ron confirms his department meets regularly with health department on code issues.

Christine points out Kimalon is working with B&H on training.

Norm asks if GCLAC organizations can provide B&H any other help?

Ron confirms he would like a copy of the lead dust study Stu mentioned, and tells our subcommittee to feel free to contact B&H any time.

Paul states the door is open for B&H to contact anyone at GCLAC.

Michelle stresses the value of increased awareness and cooperation between B&H and the city legal department to address issues of foreclosure and vacant properties and develop strategies to enforce our code – this makes sure all the legal issues are addressed

Michelle points out the Wednesday housing court docket is focused to prosecute cases where there has been positive testing results for children with elevated blood lead levels, for property owners who have not followed lead laws.

The I&S Subcommittee thanks Ron and Michelle for briefing us. Ron and Michelle leave, as the meeting moves on to other agenda items.


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HPVs at EarthFest

Hi all,
I just read an email from Jim Sheehan at Ohio City Bike Co-op that this year's Bike for the Earth at Earthfest will be led off by "a streamlined human-powered vehicle called a Go One  which will be exhibited at Earthfest, and may be available for test rides later in the day." I like the looks of this, but, I like Norm, don't know how comfortable I feel riding recumbent on certain roads in Cleveland.

Just to set the record straight, though, the Euclid Corridor Transportation Project will have dedicated bike lanes—a striped, five-foot-wide lane at the curb running in both directions the full length from CSU to Case. How 'bout that?! Thanks to the tireless advocacy of Ryan McKenzie at EcoCity Cleveland, Rich Enty at RTA (now, unfortunately, retired), and Chris Ronayne, at the time Cleveland Planning Director, bike lanes were able to overcome numerous back-door attempts to erase them from the planning process. Just goes to show, with enough gumption (or maybe it's connections), our dreams of bike lanes can become reality. If you're interested, I wrote an article about it way back in '04.

Thanks for the update, Marc

I will come check out that HPV and EarthFest, and appreciate the clarification and link on bike lanes on Euclid Corridor. This is an excellent start, and, I recall, in Mayor Jackson's plan for the city he wants to link all neighborhoods together with bike paths/trails, so I see awareness right now as very high. Let's add Kevin Cronin to the list of advocates pushing this cause, along with all at Ohio City Bike Co-Op. What is still needed is a public awareness campaign for motorists to share the road... I've heard so many stories of bike messengers downtown getting nailed by motorists it is sick.

Living in Ohio City there are lots of people on bikes, even on the worst winter snow-storm days - clearly some by choice and some by necessity. So even without bike lanes I consider this a bike friendly part of town. We need more bike lanes, but we also need more bike awareness - and perhaps bike-friendly TOD planning

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congrats on your first comment at realneo


I am so glad that you persevered and finally were able to post about this on realneo. I am encouraged by the linkup between Green City Blue Lake and realneo. Together with other local websites were engaging someone in the sustainability discussion. It is ever interesting to me that people actually read this stuff -- I often wonder about that since apparently many read and don't comment. Come on folks -- have your say. It was encouraging noting that some politicians are reading the blogs and sending emails to get on Meet the Bloggers! Wow, we may actually be driving some dialogue.

If you guys don't know Ryan McKenzie and Miriam Schuman of CityWheels, get acquainted. (They built their energy efficient home in Ohio City right around the corner from you Norm...)

They are great folks and Marc's right, Ryan has worked tirelessly to make bike lanes a reality in our city. Now he turns his attention and his know-how to car sharing -- a first for our region. I look forward to the expansion of CityWheels to my neighborhood. Right now the car parked on "The Beach" at Ford and Euclid is too far from me to be convenient, but when they have one at Cedar and Lee, you can bet I'll be jettisoning my car and driving one of their Toyotas. I sold my car years ago and opted for the bike for all transport. At my age, it is less a probability as a means of transport, but I'm not ruling it out. I did use it regularly for my non-snowy commute to my close by job for years before I retired to working at home.

Congrats to all the cyclists whose efforts are cleaning our air and to their advocates who are making streets ride-safe in Cleveland.

bikes on buses

Great article > See OCBC's regularly scheduled


OCBC's weekly Saturday Safe Social Ride

Every Saturday at 10am, we meet at the co-op for a short (<10 mile) ride. We almost always have a destination, like an art exhibit, street fair, or the beach. It's a casual, easy, friendly ride: no one is dropped, so we go at the pace of the slowest riders — though anyone is welcome to do wind sprints if they're so inspired. It's free, including loaner bikes and helmets, if you need them. Here are a few points to remember:

  • Saturday - The ride is every Saturday morning: someone is at the co-op by 10, we leave by 10:30, and are back by noon (though sometimes folks will break off and ride longer on their own). We ride year-round, in any weather. This includes winter, and if you've never ridden when it's cold before, come and join us sometime - it's still fun. We have some warm clothes you can use (earmuffs, hats, gloves, scarves - your normal winter coat is more than warm enough), and bikes with fenders you can borrow. We do take major holidays off, which are announced on our calendar at least a few weeks in advance.
  • Safe - We ride legally on all of our rides, including the Saturday rides. This includes stopping for stop signs and signaling turns. We also wear helmets and require anyone coming on our ride to wear helmets as well. If you don't have one, you can use one of ours.
  • Social - Cycling a good way for people to get out and have some fun. We want everyone to be able to enjoy it and socialize. So we don't go too fast, we don't drop anyone, we don't ride too far (less than 10 miles), and try to make sure that newcomers have a good time.
  • Ride - It's a great chance to get out and enjoy a bike. If you don't have one, you can use one of ours. We also have small bikes to borrow if you want to bring your riding children along, and trailers if you want to bring your not-yet-riding children! The ride is also a great chance to test ride different types of bikes if you're thinking of buying one, and a great place to practice bike handling skills if you'd like to be more comfortable riding in traffic.


Our next ride is this Saturday at 10am - meet us at OCBC and let's go for a ride!

(Need directions?)

I had no idea OCBC offered so much support

Thanks for posting this - Evelyn and I wanted to take Claes for a ride but my bike is in storage and we don't have a trailer - it sounds like OCBC covers all the bases (including earmuffs). How cool is that! Can't go this Saturday but will try to plan for the next... hope we go to the beach... Whiskey Island forever!

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