Pittsburgh's proposed bike-sharing program moves forward

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Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill to advance plans for Pittsburgh Bike Share, but amended the legislation to give council members the ability to approve future bike stations.

The bill, which amends a public works ordinance to define a bike station and would have allowed the city to enter a maintenance and operations agreement with the nonprofit Pittsburgh Bike Share, is essential for the project to move forward.

Councilwomen Theresa Kail-Smith and Natalia Rudiak, who represent communities in South Hills, the West End and Mount Washington, both abstained. They protested that the project cut their districts out as none of the 50 proposed bike stations were in their districts.

The station locations were determined in part by a consultant, who studied a variety of factors -- including the existence of bike lanes -- in deciding where the highest demand for bike share would be.

But Ms. Rudiak argued that her district should not continue to be punished because it lacks amenities. She pointed out that the East End, where demand was projected to be highest, has received millions in investment for bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

The East End "is where demand has been created by public investment," she said. "What we're doing is actually doubling down on the millions of dollars of investment in these neighborhoods."

Stephen Patchan, the bike-pedestrian coordinator for the city, said last week that the system was designed so that it could become financially self-sufficient after an initial investment from a federal grant and foundation dollars, which is why it was important to focus bike stations in places where demand was projected to be high.

Five council members voted for the bill. Ms. Rudiak, Ms. Kail-Smith and Council President Darlene Harris abstained from the vote.

The bill is up for final approval next Tuesday.

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Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published October 8, 2013 8:15 PM


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