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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I've decided to switch to a wordpress blog host. Please update your bookmarks to:


Monday, December 21, 2009

Seriously, don't get hit by a car

It's been about 10 weeks since getting hit by a cop car. I've had all my injuries checked out, had my bike repaired, finally conquered crossing in that crosswalk without getting nervous. I had all the stuff for my claim to the City of Cleveland (they self-insure their police) assembled. Told the story enough times that I have it distilled down to 30 seconds. I was about ready to be finally done with it all.

Until today.

A routine dental appointment (scary enough to begin with) revealed two chips in the enamel in some molars the left hand side of my mouth. Apparently it looked like I had been hit in the chin... I haven't, but the only even remotely tramautic thing I've had happen to me since my last appointment is the bike accident, so it must be that. So now, on Wednesday, I am getting my first two fillings ever (and hopefully the last!). I have never even had a cavity. Just goes to show: you can take perfect care of your teeth but it is not going to prevent dental work!

In my post about the accident, I encouraged everyone to read Cycling Tip's post on what to do if you're involved in an accident. I'd like to add "visit the dentist" to the list. Even if you don't think you did anything to your teeth (I didn't think I did! nothing hurt!), it is a good idea for them to check your teeth out to see if you did any damage. Trust me, you don't want to spend the day before Christmas Eve getting fillings. NO FUN!

I am looking forward to the post-dental-work milkshake, though. The silver lining!! Am going to look for a place that has something other than just vanilla or chocolate shakes. Stewart's, maybe?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Greetings from the winter holiday "break"

The semester may be over according the school calendar, and I might be home already, but I still have one more paper to wrap up. When a professor (who incidentally is the dean of your college) tells you take an incomplete so you can give your final paper the attention it deserves, you do not question it and you take it gratefully. So here I am, paying out the nose for internet at a Starbuck's, writing my last paper for fall 2009. It's only a 10 page memo... but one where we have to more or less solve the poverty problem in Cleveland. Gulp. I might as well tackle climate change or world hunger or peace in the Middle East or something. Technically, we're putting on our policy wonk hats to write a comprehensive community development agenda for Cleveland (which is a much less scary way of approaching this assignment). My outline is almost 2 pages already. I did my usual mind mapping stuff and am now turning it into a bona fide outline (just might be my first one ever). This should make writing this baby a breeze. If you've never mind-mapped a paper before, try it. It just might make it easier for you, especially if you're a visual person like me who doesn't necessarily think in a logical order.

I am really struggling not to turn this assignment into a "plan" à la what urban planners make. It is pretty clear I am no policy wonk!

I have learned so much this semester, but the most important that my limit is much less than my brain seems to think I can do. For next semester, my only goal (aside from the obvious ones of graduating and raising the $4k for Bike and Build) is not bite off more than I can chew.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Birdtown Flightplan: A Neighborhood Taking Off

This past semester I have participated in an independent study class, working with the City of Lakewood (just to the west of Cleveland proper). Three classmates and I have created a neighborhood plan for Birdtown, a neighborhood in the southeastern corner of Lakewood. Named Birdtown for its many streets featuring names of indigenous birds, it is a low to moderate income area. It is a well-defined neighborhood, and features a recently renovated park, brand new elementary school and community gardens.

The neighborhood planning process is long; ours was abbreviated to be a semester long. We started off by researching the neighborhood. Site visits, data crunching and reading about the history helped us ascertain the current conditions in the neighborhood, its development over time and lastly, opportunities for improvement. We also held a community meeting with the dual purpose of introducing them to the planning process as well as for us to gather information from the most important people of all: the current residents.

With this information in hand, we set about dreaming up suggestions to address some of the concerns that had arisen from the research stage. Some were invented by us; others were best practices from elsewhere. We organized our proposals into three key areas: commercial, housing and transportation. Each of the proposals was assigned at least one of the following categories in a fashion similar to the "tags" found on blogs such as this one: neighborhood identity, safety, connectivity and urban design. Once our ideas were developed, we moved into the production phase.

In addition to assembling the text for a plan, we created many images to help express our proposals. We used ArcGIS to create maps, Google Sketch-up to create some three-dimensional models and Adobe Photoshop to create photographic renderings. In a neighborhood plan, the visuals are every bit as important as the text.

To create the actual plan document, we sketched some possible layouts on paper. From there, we chose the best one and created a layout in Adobe InDesign. All the text and images were assembled into a thirty page document on legal size paper, in landscape mode. We titled it: "Birdtown Flightplan: A Neighborhood Taking Off." To ease navigation through the document, it features multi-colored bars on the outer edges of the pages. It also includes a resource guide for the residents, with information on municipal resources.

The last step is to submit our plan to the residents of the Birdtown neighborhood. We are presenting it to them this coming Tuesday at another community meeting. As this is a project completed by students, we will also be presenting it to selected faculty members of the Levin College of Urban Affairs this coming Thursday.

This semester has been an incredible opportunity for a not-yet-certified planner. To actively participate in this process, to create 1/4 of the final product, to actually create a real plan that will be implemented- this is huge to me. My educational career has been full of "make-believe" projects, with my only chances at working on real projects through internships. This is the real deal, though. It has been a great window into my future career, and I'm looking forward to including the plan document into my portfolio.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


A recent comment here points out something really important: NOACA isn't making a decision on the Innerbelt Bridge project tomorrow; ODOT is giving a status update on the project. Please don't let this discourage you from making a public comment. I think you have to get there 5-10 minutes early to sign in.
A couple of local bloggers have said that the NOACA Governing Board will be making a decision on the Innerbelt Bridge at their December 11 meeting. This is incorrect.

ODOT's presentation will be a project status update for information only. There is no resolution on the agenda. It's our understanding that ODOT won't be discussing the bike/pedestrian issue due to pending legal action.

Public comment is always welcome. You can find NOACA's public meeting comment policies on our website:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Really awesome bike links round-up, volume 1

A little while ago, I promised a whole bunch of things. Interview with Amy from Kona, a round-up of bike-related links and I probably promised more frequent posting. My dearest readers, I have failed on all three fronts. So from now on, I won't promise you anything so we can maintain the low expectations I set up in the inagural post here on Total Furmanation.

But... I do want to try this bike link round-up. At least once. So here is Volume 1 (with zero promises for a Volume 2 or higher):

For all cyclists,
Tips for Happy Riding

For the tech geeks,
iPhone app for Bike Commuting:

For the ladies, and all the men who want their ladies to ride, too:
Why More Women Don't Ride Bikes (And What We Can Do About It)

For those of you not nauseated by shameless self-promotion,
My Bike & Build Profile & Donation Page

For Cleveland cyclists and those in favor of complete streets and equal access for cyclists (that should be EVERYBODY regardless of your current geographic locale):
Open Minds and Open Access: Bike/Ped Access on the Innerbelt Bridge:
Please consider attending the rally, speaking at NOACA's board mtg (because I can't), or writing a letter. You can write a letter even if you don't live here... just saying. It would make my life better to be able to have another point of access to the west side of Cleveland, and that is not just limited to me. It's only fair that ODOT gives us cyclists and pedestrians equal access. You may not be a cyclist, but you've definitely been a pedestrian before, so everyone should care.

If you've a sweet bike-related link to share with me and my millions of readers (ha), shoot me an email. heather.h.furman [at]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rally in support of bike and pedestrian access on new Innerbelt Bridge

Lincoln Park
W. 14th Street and Kenilworth Avenue
Cleveland, OH

Join the fan page for "Innerbelt access for everyone" -

A rally to support pedestrian and bike access on the bridge will be held Sunday, December 6 at 2 p.m. at Lincoln Park in Tremont (W. 14th Street and Kenilworth Avenue).

Anyone interested in safe, convenient and healthy car-free access between Downtown and Tremont (and a great scenic overlook of downtown) is invited to attend. The event is free, and refreshments and entertainment will be provided. Cyclists are urged to ride their bikes, with free mechanical safety checks provided by the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op. Helmets are strongly suggested, and OCBC will have some available to borrow or purchase.

The rally will evaluate alternative walking and biking routes proposed by ODOT for the bridge and present other information about a dedicated path over the bridge. Participants will divide into groups, taking a different route from Lincoln Park to the intersection of Ontario Street and Carnegie Avenue, where a brief rally will address the issues of equity and civic interest in this nearly $1 billion project, before returning to Tremont for refreshments and discussion of strategies for further public input in this process.

After the rally, the job is not over. Please consider attending and voicing your support at a very important follow up: The December 11 meeting of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) at 10 a.m. when this local board will decide on ODOT's final proposal for funding of this project.

If you cannot make the meeting, consider sending an email, calling, or writing the Mayor's action line 216/664-2900, and the ODOT project director, Craig Hebebrand, at 216/581-2100 to let ODOT know you support biking and walking the proposed I-90/71 bridge. This huge taxpayer investment—ODOT's largest ever—will affect the places we live, work and play for the rest of our lives. Any donations to the event organizers will be used to help pay for engineering and professional services to document ODOT miscalculations of the feasibility and cost to safely accommodate pedestrians and cyclists in this project.

For more information, please stay tuned and visit