Monday, September 8, 2008

Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway: Rocky River to Downtown

This evening I decided to head west along the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway to see what it had to offer. I searched for maps/cue sheets online unsuccessfully so I figured that I'd just find my way out there. The westbound route from downtown out to Rocky River is essentially the same, save for one stretch through Ohio City where you're on one-way streets for a few blocks. Signs along the route aren't the "standard" green bike route signs w/ a white bike on them, but they are placed just before each turn in the trail. That said, there are a few spots where you've been pedaling along for quite some time without seeing a sign; it would be nice if there were a few more signs to reassure riders that they're still on the right track. The beginning of this review is designed to take you from the Northernmost point of the Rocky River Reservation along roads suitable for an experienced cyclist. If you're not comfortable with riding on roadways and/or with moderate traffic then you may want to try using a street parallel to the one I took. The below route review is written with directions eastbound from Rocky River to Downtown, but should be fairly easy to adapt for westbound travel.

Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway: Rocky River to Downtown

From Valley Parkway & Detroit Road, continue Northbound on Sloane Ave but prepare to make a left turn after ~150m onto Sloane Subway. This short yet very interesting street seems to be the only way to cross an abandoned set of railroad tracks, and spits you out onto Clifton Rd. You'll be traveling along good pavement here, with wide undulating residential streets lined with beautiful homes - this is the case for your entire time spent in Lakewood. You'll cross Rt. 2/US 60/Clifton Blvd, continuing North onto Lake Avenue for a short time until you hit Webb ave and will need to make a quick right followed by a quick left as Lake does not cleanly cross Webb.

Lake Avenue is not an ideal road for recreational cycling, but it's definitely the best option in the area. Traffic is not particularly heavy because of Lake Ave's proximity to US 60. You'll continue for approximately 3.5 miles where you'll make a left onto Cove Ave, approaching many large midrise apartment/condo buildings overlooking Lake Erie. Follow Cove for a block and make a right onto Edgewater Drive. Continue along Edgewater and you'll leave the midrise buildings behind and return to single family homes along both sides of the street. You'll reach the beginning of the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway at the intersection of 115th Street and Edgewater Drive, almost exactly 4 miles from the start.

Edgewater drive continues eastbound, the pavement along this portion is rough at times but in generally good condition. You're on a very gradual downhill here, but you'll soon drop down to lake level. At Edgewater and West Ave, follow the bikeway signs into Edgewater park where you'll continue on a 8'-10' wide path that snakes through the park. Take some time to refill your bottles here if necessary, but be sure to check out the view before you go down the hill.

At this point, check your brakes because you're going to need them - you're in for a 5%-10% descent down to lake level, and there's beach sand blown all over the path. Take care not to hit sand at speed, even experienced cyclists have trouble with staying rubber side down with sand under the tires. The path diverges at the bottom, if you'd prefer to explore the park take a left turn, the path is a loop through the park and will bring you back. If you're heading downtown, keep moving straight and head towards the Rt. 2 underpass. Stay alert here and obey your stop sign, there are cars moving on and off an expressway here and they may not be aware that there's a bike path at the base of the ramp. Put yourself in an easy gear, you're about to climb up about 40 vertical feet in a rather short time.

From the park you'll climb into Ohio City through a subway beneath railroad tracks. Be alert through here, there's quite a few turns in addition to a fair amount of glass in the tunnel, so watch where you're pointing those tires! Once out of the tunnel, there's a bit more twisty climbing to do, so stick it out and you'll find yourself in a light industrial/residential part of Ohio City, @ the intersection of W 65th Street and Father Caruso Drive. Continue south on 65th for a couple blocks and follow the sign to make a left onto Herman Ave for a block, then another right onto 58th followed by a quick left onto Tillman Ave. These turns are all well-signed, but some trees should be trimmed to make finding the signs a little easier. Tillman ave is the eastbound route, westbound riders at this point would use Herman Ave one block to the North. Follow Tillman for two blocks then make a right onto 49th and a quick left onto Detroit Ave.

Detroit Ave is probably the "hairy" section of this ride, but it's really not that bad. The right lane offers parallel parking, which provides the cyclist with 4' between parked car and the dashed lane line divider where traffic flows. Follow Detroit Ave the rest of the way through Ohio City and over the Veteran's Memorial Bridge. A note about the bridge - it was widened beyond the original steel structure at some point and there's a lane to the right of the steel. This is NOT the best place to ride. If you watch the painted lines carefully, you'll notice that the bike lane requires you to cross over the rightmost lane of traffic into the bike lane which is then adjacent to the center travel lane. Once past the main span of the bridge, the center bike lane ends and reappears on the right shoulder once again. This isn't an ideal situation, but with proper signaling a cyclist shouldn't have much problem getting through this area.

Once over the bridge, it's only a few blocks further East to Public Square, Tower City, or anywhere else downtown you'd like to go. Put your bike on the RTA and find a new place to ride, or maybe grab a bite to eat somewhere on 4th ave or the warehouse district.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

cleeeve-land is so pretty!