In Olmsted Township, the streets aren't just for cars anymore. The township is implementing complete streets — an urban planning concept that encourages bike lanes, sidewalks and public transit all sharing the roads. "We're saying there are going to be people on this street who will need to ride a bike, who will need to walk," says Stefanie Seskin, deputy director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. "We have to provide for them at least to some degree." Here's a look at how the township is changing lanes.
In Olmsted Township, all neighborhoods already have sidewalks. "But once you leave the development, now you're on county roads and there's no sidewalks," says township trustee Sherri Lippus. To tie people's homes to shops, schools and more, the township's complete streets plan calls for a multiuse path wide enough for biking and walking along Cook and Bagley roads.
The trustees worked with the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission to help decide the township's transit priorities from a National Complete Streets Coalition menu of options. "There is no one design for what complete streets look like," says Seskin. The urban-centric toolkit includes such things as small lanes, bus rapid transit stops and bike lanes that can be seen in Cleveland's Euclid Avenue corridor.
The first step, set to begin this month, adds sidewalks along the Stearns Road overpass of the Norfolk Southern railway. The remaining stretch of Stearns without a path or sidewalk is on hold while the county seeks funding. "It's not just about shoehorning in a sidewalk and saying, Oh, we're done," says Seskin. "It's also the crossings [and] how frequent they are for people walking."