Rating the Suburbs 2012: For the Bike authority

This inner-ring suburb has plans to become one of the most bike friendly communities in America.


Outside of Lakewood's Root Cafe, an earthy coffee shop that attracts local cyclists, a messenger locks his black, single-speed bike to a tree as a bus blares its horn while passing a biker on Detroit Avenue. Within minutes, a group of five kids pass by on their BMX bikes.

The densely populated inner-ring suburb, originally developed around streetcar lines, is a good place to get from here to there on two wheels. At just 5.6 square miles, Lakewood offers abundant sidewalks, wide boulevards near the lake and a compact layout that makes for an easy ride between residential areas, schools, parks and businesses such as Root Café.

But the town of more than 52,000 residents isn't stopping there. Lakewood recently approved a master bike plan that it hopes will make it one of the most bike-friendly communities in America by 2015.

Long-term plans include the placement of street markers on Detroit Avenue and a reconfiguration of Madison Avenue to safely accommodate bicycle traffic.

But first, 15 places around town (including Root Cafe) received U racks with an on-street bike corral in May. That's good news for 27-year-old Erika Durham, a Root Cafe employee who lived in New York City, Interlochen, Mich., and La Honda, Calif., before moving to Lakewood.

"As soon as I moved to Lakewood, I realized there were lots of possibilities for good riding," says Durham, who is a member of the bike advocacy group Bike Lakewood. A former student at Cleveland State University, Durham found that she could bike to campus in about 40 minutes, faster than it took to drive and park. In fact, Durham recently sold her car and now only commutes by bike.

She's not alone. A 2010 Bike Community Survey found that most Lakewood residents bike between one and four times per week, while almost 25 percent of Lakewood students bike to school daily.

"As a cyclist and someone who uses a bike not just for transportation but for enjoyment, I think the bike plan has a lot of good things and will make it better for people who ride," she says. "The bike parking alone is a huge step for the city."

Neighborhood Hot Spot

"The people who love those classic hardwood floors and 3-inch moldings and casings will like these houses," says Keller Williams Realty's Ed Huck of the Forest Cliff Drive neighborhood. "The area has been known to have well-cared-for houses and well-manicured lawns. There's real pride of ownership. It's walking distance to Lakewood Park. You're 10 minutes from downtown, too."

What You Get

Erie Cliff Drive

Asking price: $367,000

Selling price: $350,000

Square feet: 2,174

No. of bedrooms: 5

No. of bathrooms: 4

Time on the market: 89 days

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