Pittsburgh moving ahead with plans for bike-only lanes

The city will go ahead with a plan to convert a section of Penn Avenue in Downtown and the Cultural District to bicycle-only lanes.

Although a formal announcement has not been scheduled, the city notified the Port Authority to proceed with bus schedule changes that are needed to accommodate the project.

Two bike lanes, one in each direction, will occupy the eastbound side of Penn Avenue, replacing the existing traffic lane from Stanwix Street to 11th Street. Eastbound vehicles would be rerouted to Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Liberty Avenue, which are parallel to Penn. Westbound traffic and on-street parking would not change.

The plan, described as in its conceptual stage, was outlined recently at a Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership-sponsored meeting with business interests, bicyclists and others.

The city expects to have the lanes in place before Sept. 8, when it will play host to the 18th Pro Bike/​Pro Walk/​Pro Place conference, bringing an estimated 1,000 city planners, transportation engineers and bicycling and pedestrian advocates here. Mayor Bill Peduto announced in April that he wanted bike-only lanes in Downtown in time for the conference.

Mr. Peduto was out of town on Thursday, but spokesman Timothy McNulty confirmed that a formal announcement is forthcoming.

Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said the city asked the agency to begin work on bus schedule changes that likely would take effect Aug. 31.

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Only two routes — 8 Perrysville and O1 Ross Flyer — use the affected section of eastbound Penn Avenue, said Scott Vetere, the authority’s director of service planning and evaluation. Both will have minor changes that will move stops no more than a block. For O1 riders who work in the center of town, the stops will be a bit closer to their destination, he said.

Far more bus routes travel westbound on Penn Avenue, and those will not be affected, he said.

A row of delineators, collapsible posts that would have reflectors on them, would separate the bike lanes from traffic. Locations where vehicular traffic crosses the bike lanes would be painted bright green.

The city was studying options for linking the bike lanes from Stanwix Street to Point State Park, with one option being a shared lane along the westbound side of Penn Avenue Extension and Liberty Avenue, said Patrick Hassett, assistant public works director for transportation and engineering, at the recent public meeting.

Mr. Peduto hopes to develop more bike lanes in the city and announced in March that the city was participating in a national campaign to install protected bike lanes. PeopleForBikes, a nonprofit organization based in Boulder, Colo., selected Pittsburgh as one of six cities that will get two years of financial, strategic and technical assistance to install lanes. City officials said they hoped to develop 5 miles of bike-only lanes within the next two years.

In a statement Thursday, Mr. Peduto said, “When PeopleForBikes chose Pittsburgh for the next phase of its protected bike-lane program, it underscored what a great, bike-friendly place the city is becoming. Placing lanes Downtown — and making them safe for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists alike — also goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to turn it into one of the city’s most unique neighborhoods.”

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the Post-Gazette’‍s transportation blog at www.post-gazette.com/roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic.

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