Bicycling has been a popular activity in Cleveland since the late-1800’s. Long ago there was little need for bike trails since automobiles weren’t even on the roads yet. In Cleveland Metroparks, a single, unpaved 3 mile bike trail was dedicated in Rocky River Reservation in 1939. Today, cyclists are looking for designated places to ride and Cleveland Metroparks provides many opportunities for them throughout the park district.
When researching cycling in the parks, I came across an article from The Cleveland Plain Dealer July 21, 1972 issue called “Bedford Reservation set for Sunday cyclists.” The author, Helen Humrichouser writes that “Cycling has become so popular some states have built miles of bike paths that are exclusively for the use of bike riders. Greater Cleveland cyclists are not fortunate enough to have such sophisticated facilities available yet, but advancements are being made.”
The article continues by describing how on Sunday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon Bedford Reservation would now be closed to cars so that cyclists could enjoy its 3 ½ miles of road without worrying about automobiles. She goes on to say that if the Bedford experiment is successful park officials plan to begin construction on a designated asphalt bike path in the southern section of Rocky River Reservation that would run adjacent to the park drive from approximately the Detroit Ave entrance to the Lorain Ave. entrance. She states that trail would be the first of its kind in the Cleveland area. This trail did in fact open in 1973.
Today, Cleveland Metroparks offers over 100 miles of shared use, all purpose trails for everyone, including cyclists, to enjoy. In addition, three designated natural surface mountain bike trails provide approximately 22 miles of rugged paths for mountain bikers and hikers. Of course we can’t forget the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail which provides a smooth, paved surface heading north from Rockside Road and will eventually extend into downtown Cleveland and connect with other trails all the way to Lake Erie. Opportunities for cyclists in Cleveland have come a long way since 1972 and are expected to only get better in the coming years. Stay tuned!