City cyclists feel they're getting the metaphorical middle-finger when it comes to asking for fair, safe access to Cleveland roads. That sentiment surfaced Friday at Cleveland City Hall, where about a dozen cycling advocates expressed disappointment with the Ohio Department of Transportation's plan to nix a bicycle/pedestrian lane for the upcoming Inner Belt project.

ODOT officials, at a city planning commission meeting, presented final plans for the project, which will take two decades to complete and cost an estimated $3.5 billion. ODOT Project Manager Craig Hebebrand says highway bike lanes — at a price of at least $20 million — are not financially feasible in the eyes of the state and the Federal Highway Administration. Instead, Hebebrand unveiled an alternate route that caters to Tremont bikers who want to get to Gateway and beyond: an improved Abbey Avenue to West 20th Street to the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.

Improvements would include creating 5-foot bike lanes and sidewalks on the Abbey Avenue bridge, Hebebrand says. These upgrades would cost about $800,000.

Cyclists with ClevelandBikes, a local advocacy group, say this alternative route still has significant safety issues, such as on-street vehicle parking. Advocates say similar bridges, including one in Charleston, South Carolina, were built with bike lanes, so why not here?

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