Spring has arrived and recreational areas like the Cleveland Metroparks are beginning to welcome more visitors after the long cold winter.
In North Royalton, the Valley Parkway Connector Trail, a six-mile trail that at long last closes the gap between Brecksville and Mill Stream Run reservations, is ushering in its first spring season giving bicyclists and pedestrians the opportunity to utilize 33 consecutive miles of connected, paved off-road shared-use trail before reaching the Towpath Trail. Speedier cyclists and commuter bicyclists are also hitting the roadways more and utilizing the perennial favorite Valley Parkway alongside motorists.
With May’s National Bike Month right around the corner, Cleveland Metroparks will officially launch a road safety campaign designed to both educate the public on cyclist/driver safety and address user comments concerning the “Rules of the Road.” In heavily trafficked extensions of the Metroparks, motorists and bicyclists will notice new signs outlining Ohio’s law requiring motorists to allow at least three feet when passing a cyclist. More signage and media will go up as the summer cycling season heats up, said Nancy Desmond, special projects coordinator for the Cleveland Metroparks.
For avid cyclists like Ross Lubrani, awareness and education are vital. Lubrani lives in North Royalton off the Valley Parkway and said he has experienced both accidents and incidents along the popular route.
“Cars crowding cyclists off the road, passing and slamming on their brakes, swerving toward a group when passing, passing on a double yellow line with oncoming cars ahead,” Lubrani said. “I have witnessed crashes and accidents, near collisions, and/or close calls. I think that most drivers when in the Parkway are okay with cyclists riding on the roads. The problems arise when the Parkway is used as a short cut and someone is in a hurry. That and the thought from people driving cars that the bicyclists should be on the path. The problem with that is the groups who are riding on the road are traveling at a speed that is far more than the path allows – 18-25 mph. Overall, the awareness is getting better but it is my hope that people continue to be educated on the cycling laws and rules that apply to driving on the road.”
Cleveland Metroparks released an educational flyer that highlights “Rules of the Road” for both cyclists and drivers. According to the flyer, cyclists must obey all traffic rules applicable to vehicles, ride in the direction of road traffic, ride to the right, ride only two abreast with large cycling groups broken up into smaller groups, not ride up the right side of traffic at a stop light or stop sign and wait their turn just as they would in a car, be predictable and signal when turning, among other safety reminders. According to the flyer, drivers should treat cyclists like slow-moving vehicles and not tailgate them, know that bicyclists are allowed on roadways and that it is legal to cross a double-yellow line when passing a bicyclist, and always comply with posted speed limits and reduce speed when necessary for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, among other listed safety reminders.
Kevin Madzia of Century Cycles bicycle shops reminds bicyclists to ride with traffic, wear visible clothing and a helmet, and use a flashing bike tail light both day and night. He urges parents to teach their children to ride predictably and not swerve back-and-forth. Cyclists should always give notice when passing others and move off the trail if they need to stop, he also noted. An avid cyclist who participates in overnight bicycling excursions, Madzia said he hasn’t had any run-ins and collisions with vehicles but knows friends who have.
“The majority of these accidents were due to the driver not paying attention, but I know some instances where the bicyclist was at fault,” he said. “You have to realize it is your perception as a cyclist versus the reality of the roadway. As a bicyclist, you automatically feel less safe on the road because you don’t have that protection of a car around you.”
Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck bicycles the Cleveland Metroparks and notes that sticking to the all-purpose trail makes him feel safer.
“On the paved trail, I’m not trying to share the road with automobiles,” he said. “When I did ride on the road, I was always very conscious of where I was. On the trail, I can relax more and not always have to be super aware. There have been times when I felt that maybe a motorist was close to me, but again, it’s perspective. When you have a 2,000-pound vehicle going by you, is it ever far enough from you? I know of people who have been bumped or worse by cars and now, with the connector trail, you can just enjoy it and you don’t have to be as worried.”
Contributing Writer

Photo “Courtesy of Cleveland Metroparks/Kyle Lanzer”