Transportation in Cleveland: car or no?
November 2, 2016 8:37 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Cleveland this weekend starting this weekend and going into next week, trying to keep the world safe from the forces of neo-fascism. I'll be staying downtown and traveling to the Board of Elections, and I'm trying to figure out my transportation options.

Details about the geography: I'm staying at the Westin Cleveland Downtown and working at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Because I'm working on Election Day and run-up thereto, I'll be traveling and working somewhat odd hours; we have training that goes until about 11:30 PM on Saturday, and then I have to be at the BOE at 6 AM on Tuesday until 9 PM. I do have a rental car reserved, but if possible, I'd like to avoid renting a car, as I don't own a car and therefore don't have car insurance, which means I have to buy the rental insurance -- in other words, spend a zillion additional dollars on top of the rental itself (which is pretty cheap).

I understand that there's light rail in Cleveland and that it runs downtown. But is the light rail pretty reliable and on time, even at very early or late hours? Or, more generally, can I manage traveling from the Westin to the Board of Elections pretty easily without a car? I had rather not take cabs everywhere, either; I figure that if I'm going to do that anyway, I may as well drive myself, and I have a couple of friends who will be with me so I can drive them as well. (I'm not really down with using Uber, and I haven't even checked to see whether Lyft operates in Cleveland.)

And finally, I'll be free on Sunday and part of Monday so I'd like to maybe see a couple of sights on those days. So the corollary question is, will I be able to do that in the general geographical area without a car? (I know the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is nearby, and I'd definitely like to see that.)

Thanks, everybody!
posted by holborne to Travel & Transportation around Cleveland, OH (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hey - from the Westin you'll have plenty off easy access to downtown sites. I use Uber in Cleveland and I believe Lyft is available (I don't use it, however). There are also cabs in Cleveland but YMMV. Geographically you're in a great spot for Rock n Roll hall of fame and other downtown sites. Cleveland isn't too large.

I've never taken the light rail, but apparently it is fairly reliable from friends who have taken it. Not sure specifically regarding early / late hours. Their website will help you plan your trip and provides a schedule / breakdown.
posted by glaucon at 8:53 AM on November 2, 2016

I don't own a car and therefore don't have car insurance, which means I have to buy the rental insurance

Have you checked with your credit card company concerning whether they offer insurance for rental cars? It's a perk with some cards. Back before I owned a car, it allowed me to decline some of the insurances offered (though admittedly not all of them.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:55 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

You're in locations well served by Cleveland's public transportation. Assuming I'm thinking of the right place and you're going to the Board of Elections building on Euclid, that's right on the Euclid corridor fancy bus line. Again assuming I have the right location, you can walk there from your hotel in <30 minutes and that's not a sketchy area.

If you do take the HealthLine bus, it will take you all the way from downtown to University Circle if you want to go to the art museum, etc.

I would absolutely not bother renting a car unless you desperately need to make it to the malls on the east side or something.
posted by MarkAnd at 9:10 AM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

This advice might change if the Tribe wins tonight and there is a victory parade downtown this weekend. You'll have a front-row seat and a million folks will be partying. The Westin is a good hike from the BOE, over a mile, which might be unpleasant if it's rainy or late at night. I see the Healthline, which starts at Public Square, a few blocks from your hotel, has a stop at E. 30th, where the BOE is. Your hotel is in the Warehouse District, which has a bunch of bars and restaurants and a short walk downhill to the east bank of the Flats, which has a bunch of new construction. The Rock Hall isn't too far from your hotel, there is a passage from nearby which gets to the browns stadium and rock hall. I think the Great Lakes Science Center and the Mather boat is worth a look as well. If you need a break, the Cleveland Public Library is on Superior Ave. east of Public Square and the "old" building is worth a look.
posted by greatalleycat at 2:07 PM on November 2, 2016

Thanks, you guys! And yes, MarkAnd, you have the right location -- the BOE is on Euclid Avenue (should have actually included that in the post, sorry). I've canceled the car rental and will be relying on the light rail instead, plus cabs if necessary.
posted by holborne at 2:08 PM on November 2, 2016

Just so you know, from the Westin to the BOE will be buses rather than light rail - our light rail is mostly aimed at getting to the further reaches of the city & into the suburbs. greatalleycat is correct about the Healthline, that's your route. As MarkAnd points out, down Euclid is our new fancy-bus line, double-length buses and Euclid divided down the middle, with the bus stops in the center divider and the buses running in the center lanes.

The Westin is on E. 9th & St. Clair, not really the Warehouse District, which is more W. 6th & 9th. (Shit will still be bonkers all over if The Indians win, though.) Your closest "party area", if you're so inclined, is walkable, over on E 4th & Euclid by the House of Blues, where there are a bunch of bars and restaurants. You're walking distance from the Rock Hall (you will pass the Free Stamp on the way.) You're in walking distance of our newly designed Public Square and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. While you're in the Public Square area, noodlecat is worth a visit for lunch or dinner, and a stop by Rocket Fizz to satisfy your sweet tooth. The Public Library always has several art exhibits going, although unfortunately they're closed on Sundays. Just across Superior from the library is the "Old Arcade", which is not that exciting as far as food & shopping (IMO) but is breathtaking from an architectural standpoint. (I'll actually be working there (I think) on Sunday with the Cleveland Opera Theater's "Opera Up Close" production of Handel's Serse, which is not free, but I'm sure you can wander in anytime before 6 and look at the building and watch the chaos.)
posted by soundguy99 at 7:07 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

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