Be aware while driving, walking or riding a bike on Lake Road between Bay Village and Sheffield Lake.
From 2017 through 2019 there were 96 collisions involving vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and fixed objects on this 10-mile stretch of Lake, according to a consultant’s safety study.
Of those, 24 resulted in injury, most notably to Avon Lake Planning Commission Chairman Richard “Randy” Knilans, who was struck June 6, 2019, by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle. He died a day later.
Collisions were over the state average in eight categories including pedestrians hit by cars, rear-end crashes and cars hitting a fixed object, such as a utility pole, according to the study by Mannik & Smith Group, Inc. of Shaker Heights reviewed by City Council Dec. 21. Pedestrians involved in crashes were about twice as high as the state average.
“One of the more critical components of this, and one which the community is really looking to try to solve is, in the three years studied, there were four bicycle crashes on this corridor… which is about seven times higher than the statewide average,” Mannik & Smith senior planner Pat Etchie told council.
The city hired the firm in July for $23,500 to conduct a safety study of Lake Road and to come up with solutions before the state undertakes repaving it in 2023.
Recommendations include reconfiguring some crosswalks and creating pedestrian islands.
City leaders said the state’s 2023 timeline puts a bit of a rush on implementing any recommendations from the study. The state likely will complete plans for the repaving well before the project starts.
Knilans, 66, died at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland the day after he was hit. The driver, Sharan A. Carr, 65, of Sheffield Lake, drove off after the accident. She pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and was sentenced in January 2020 to 3½ years in prison.
The month before Knilans died, a car struck 51-year-old bicyclist Patty Banks of Bay Village. Banks suffered serious injuries but survived.
When the Ohio Department of Transportation hands out safety improvement grant money, it asks for the three previous years of statistics on any stretch of road, Etchie said. He added he likes to look at averages over the previous 10 years.
From 2010 to 2019, Etchie said, a car struck a pedestrian three times and a bicyclist 12 times.
“Those are pretty significant numbers,” Etchie said.
The more problematic areas are around Aquamarine Boulevard, Avondale Avenue, Jaycox Road and the intersection of Miller Road, where Knilians was hit, Etchie said.
One overall problem, Etchie said is that Lake is best described as a four-lane highway, which carries around 15,000 vehicles per day. Lake averages half that amount daily. The low number means intersections along Lake do not qualify for stop lights.
Mannik & Smith are also charged with finding funding to complete any recommended changes.
Though the timeline is unclear, Mannik & Smith is scheduled to complete a $21,500 study this summer of all bike lanes throughout the city. The study will determine how many miles of bike lanes exist in Avon Lake.
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