BRT and Bikes

I've written critically about Cleveland's BRT, the Healthline, several times in the past. My criticism still stands - there are things about BRT that simply make it worse than rail transit. However, there is one thing about the Healthline corridor that I'd been taking advantage my last year in Cleveland that deserves to be recognized.

(from Flickr user jeffschuler)

Even though my bike commute to work was 8 miles, it was a very easy 8 miles. The first half of the trip was through Cleveland Heights, were I was able to ride on secondary residential streets where there was very little traffic. The second half of the trip was down Euclid Avenue, where I took advantage of the vastly underutilized bicycle lanes.

During this 8 mile commute, I never had to maneuver around a bus.

This is the result of several factors. The first is that I was able to use secondary residential streets in Cleveland Heights. Unfortunately, such streets don't exist in many suburbs, because they are often opposed by residents who believe through streets will lead to heavy vehicle traffic. I can attest that this is an unfounded concern. The second factor is that bus service in Cleveland has been slashed and burned, to the point where there just aren't a lot of buses left out on the street. This is certainly not a good thing. The third factor is that the median stations and bus lanes on the BRT guaranteed that a bus would never cross the bike lane.

In both Arlington and in DC, there are many streets with bike lanes, which typically protect bicyclists from cars, but not from buses, which pull into the bike lane to load and unload passengers. For all that's wrong with Cleveland's BRT, I can now admit that, as a bicyclist, I took that corridor for granted.