Sheila Knill-Schreiner likens herself to the mailman. The veteran West Side dog walker hits Lakewood’s sidewalks year-round, through rain, sleet, snow and bright sunny days. “We’re like the post office,” she says. “We get there.”
Knill-Schreiner, 45, is a former Lakewood resident who’s run Yuppee Puppee for a decade now. She’s covered a lot of ground in the 5.5-square-mile city with 185 miles of sidewalks. Although she no longer calls Lakewood home, most of her clients live there. For her, the city’s best perk is its easy transition from urban hot spot to natural environment.
Knill-Schreiner and her furry west-end clients not only stroll through the city’s neighborhoods during regular half-hour walks, but they also take advantage of easy access to the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation and the Lakewood Dog Park just inside its entrance.
In April, Lakewood also began a one-year trial program that allows leashed dogs in both Lakewood Park and Kauffman Park — city-owned properties that had previously outlawed man’s best friend.
Lakewood has been building on its strength as a pedestrian-friendly community in other ways, too. Last year, the nonprofit revitalization group Heritage Ohio certified Lakewood as an Ohio Main Street Community. The recognition comes after five years of effort from citizens, business owners and volunteers for LakewoodAlive. They’ve worked to keep local businesses open and bring new ones in, giving residents more restaurants, shops and other conveniences unique to successful, densely populated cities.
Given that focus, it should come as no surprise that 90 percent of Knill-Schreiner’s clients are young business professionals and families, something she attributes in part to the city’s many affordable and nice rental properties and the community’s family-friendly feel. “There are enough parks in Lakewood that if you have young children, you should be within walking distance of one, no matter where you live,” Knill-Schreiner says.
Beyond that, 10 public schools dot Lakewood’s neighborhoods, making it a short walk for most kids, and more than 1,100 businesses, the majority locally owned, line Lakewood’s main arteries.
Pet’s General Store and the Furry Nation are ”two good reasons to have a pet in Lakewood,” Knill-Schreiner says.
We’ll add one more: It’s a great place to roam, no matter what end of the leash you’re on.
Created as a utopian village and railroad town in the 1800s by John Baldwin, this city is compact and easy to stroll through. The historic downtown, Baldwin-Wallace College and the sandstone cliffs in the Metroparks’ Mill Stream Run Reservation are within walking distance of one another.
<< Cleveland Heights
Twelve shopping districts are peppered throughout this 8-square-mile city — all of them easy to get to on foot. Be sure to check out the Cedar-Lee intersection’s indie movie house and Coventry’s hippified hangouts.
■ Oakwood Village
This city seems like your run-of-the-mill suburb — until you see the sidewalks. Five miles of undulating paved trails wind in and around the village, transporting bikers and hikers through quiet neighborhoods into the Tinkers Creek Watershed.
■ University Heights
John Carroll University’s Gothic brick buildings and 60 acres of manicured lawns coexist beautifully with the city’s stately homes. An impressive shopping area with a Whole Foods, Target and Macy’s is less than a mile’s walk from campus.
rating the suburbs
12:00 AM EST
May 27, 2010