Officials pledge better city for cyclists, walkers

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Cyclists today lauded a pledge by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Councilman Patrick Dowd to make the city more friendly to bicyclists and walkers, and they urged officials to get moving on adding more bike lanes, improving links to public transportation and encouraging motorists to respect their two-wheeled fellow travelers.

"It's such a great day for cycling in Pittsburgh," said Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh, as cyclists packed Enrico's Tazza D'Oro, a Highland Park coffee shop, to hear Mr. Ravenstahl and Mr. Dowd outline their plans for improved urban cycling and walking.

The first agenda item -- hiring a coordinator to handle cycling and pedestrian efforts -- was completed a week ago with the hiring of Stephen Patchen, 32 and of the South Side Flats, to the $45,000 position.

"We are the first city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to ever have a full-time bicycle/pedestrian coordinator," said Mr. Ravenstahl.

Next up are zoning benefits and tax breaks for businesses that accommodate cyclists, better signage on bike routes, more bike racks, better tracking of car-on-bike and car-on-pedestrian accidents, increased enforcement of traffic laws near bike lanes, and events to showcase the city's bike friendliness. Some of that will require money that hasn't yet been identified.

"We don't actually have anything that we're delivering at this particular moment," said Mr. Dowd, who has been pushing a bike-friendly agenda in council. "This is a long-term project, and something that's going to continue."

There will be incremental improvements in the cycling infrastructure this summer, officials said. For instance, Public Works Director Guy Costa said he's working with East Liberty Development Inc. to put bike lanes on East Liberty Boulevard.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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