Councilman offers bicycle alternative to Penn Avenue


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Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto stood on a tree-lined street in Point Breeze on Thursday and said the neighborhood would welcome bicyclists who want to get off of busy Penn Avenue.

Since July 25, two bicyclists have been struck and killed by vehicles on Penn, and city officials have cited a need both to increase safety on Penn and to make cyclists aware of alternative routes.

Mr. Peduto said the city must do a better job of acquainting bicyclists with a marked network of alternative routes, developed a decade ago under former Mayor Tom Murphy, that enables cyclists to cover a large swath of the East End on safe, quiet streets.

Peduto discusses alternate bikeway

Councilman Bill Peduto, with a nod to congested and dangerous Penn Avenue, is urging bicyclists to consider an East End bike route developed about a decade ago under former Mayor Tom Murphy. (Video by Jon Schmitz; 8/9/2012)

He said bicyclists can travel between Frick Park in Regent Square and Mellon Park in Shadyside via Reynolds Street, which runs parallel to Penn and through the Point Breeze business district.

"There's hardly any traffic. There are no buses," Mr. Peduto said, standing on Reynolds in Point Breeze, near a sign pointing bicyclists to Mellon Park.

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A bicycle path in Mellon Park ends at the Reizenstein school building in Shadyside. From there, Mr. Peduto said, cyclists can cross Penn to get to the Bakery Square development and continue on to East Liberty Boulevard and Negley Run Boulevard to Highland Park.

Mr. Peduto said he's certain that some bicyclists will want to continue to use Penn. "But for others, we can provide a safer opportunity and a safer option, and it's been here for over a decade," he said, noting Point Breeze has shady streets, pleasant restaurants and bike stands.

Eric Andrae stopped into one of those restaurants Thursday after bicycling from his soccer game at Mellon Park. Perhaps like many bicyclists, he said he rides both on primary and secondary streets, depending on who's accompanying him and where he's going.

"I think we need more bike lanes," he said, referring to bicycle-only lanes on some city streets.

Mr. Peduto called on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to develop "complete streets" accommodating motorists, cyclists, public transit and pedestrians.

Mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said complete streets will be part of a comprehensive transportation plan now under development.

She also said the city would work with state officials to make permanent safety improvements on Penn, a state-owned road.

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On July 25, James Price, 46, of Homewood was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while cycling in the 7400 block of Penn in Point Breeze. The motorist has not been found.

Anthony Green, 47, of Wilkinsburg, died Aug. 1, the day after he was hit by an SUV in the 7700 block of Penn, just over the city line in Wilkinsburg. No charges have been filed against the motorist, who remained at the scene of the accident.

In a joint statementAug. 1, Mr. Ravenstahl and Scott Bricker, executive director of the advocacy group BikePGH, urged bicyclists and motorists to be vigilant and courteous.

The statement also said that the city "will be creating an alternate bike route" that would encourage cyclists to use North Braddock Avenue and Meade Street instead of Penn. That prompted Mr. Peduto to call attention to the existing network of bicycle routes, developed under Mr. Murphy, a bicycle enthusiast.

North Braddock and Meade are north of Penn; Reynolds is south of Penn.

Eric Boerer, advocacy director for BikePGH, said Reynolds is one of the alternative routes noted on the Pittsburgh Bike Map at http://bike-pgh.org/campaigns/commuter-bike-maps/.

Stephen Patchan, the city's bicycle-pedestrian coordinator, said Reynolds also is one of the alternates route promoted by Mr. Ravenstahl's administration.

Mr. Boerer said some bicyclists prefer Penn because it's quicker, flatter and a more direct route than that offered by neighborhood streets.

"Like anybody, cyclists will take the path of least resistance and the shortest, quickest way there," he said.

neigh_city - Transportation

Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548. First Published August 10, 2012 4:00 AM


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