Pittsburgh will get help developing bike lanes

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Mayor Bill Peduto announced Monday that the city will be part of a national campaign to install protected bike lanes in American cities.

PeopleForBikes, a nonprofit organization based in Boulder, Colo., selected Pittsburgh as one of six new cities that will receive two years of financial, strategic and technical assistance to install protected bike lanes.

The biking infrastructure refers to on-street lanes that are shielded from road traffic by barriers such as curbs, planters, parked cars or posts. According to PeopleForBikes, the dedicated bike lanes provide benefits such as improving safety and increasing economic activity.

Pittsburgh plans to install five miles of the protected bike lanes over the next two years, although where exactly the bike lanes will go is still being determined and will be discussed in upcoming meetings between city officials, community groups and residents, said Stephen Patchan, the city's bicycle-pedestrian coordinator.

"We'll be looking at the entire city," he said.

Mr. Patchan said the city would like to have a protected bike lane constructed by this fall, which is also when a Pittsburgh bike share program is scheduled to launch.

A good example of what Pittsburgh's dedicated bike lanes might look like when finished, he said, can be seen on East Waterfront Drive in Munhall, where vertical poles separate vehicle traffic from bike traffic.

"I think it's going to significantly improve biking in Pittsburgh," Mr. Patchan said.

The project will not be Pittsburgh's first collaboration with PeopleForBikes. Last year, the city installed its first green painted bike lane in Bloomfield, aided by funding from a $23,000 PeopleForBikes grant.

PeopleforBikes's Green Lane Project began in 2012 to increase the number of protected bike lanes in American cities, and so far the project has aided in the development of protected bike lanes in Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., a focus that the organization said helped to increase the number of protected bike lanes from 80 to 142.

Now Pittsburgh, along with Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis and Seattle, will receive help to build additional protected bike lanes. The cities were chosen from more than 100 American cities that submitted letters of interest.

Martha Roskowski, vice president of local innovation for PeopleForBikes, said that through the program, Pittsburgh will receive a $20,000 to $25,000 grant to put toward a project of its choice. She said her organization also estimates cities in its Green Lane Project program receive $250,000 worth of services and support over the two-period.

Pittsburgh leaders will attend an official kickoff event for the Green Lane Project in Indianapolis in April, a news release from the mayor's office said.

The group Bike Pittsburgh has called for the city to develop protected bike lanes, and executive director Scott Bricker said the PeopleForBikes program "will help make this vision a reality."

Mr. Bricker, who uses a bike daily for transportation, said the feeling of riding a bike on protected bike lanes, which he has experienced when visiting places such as New York, San Francisco and Seattle, "can't be beat."

"It feels so much safer and more comfortable," he said.

Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707. First Published March 10, 2014 12:06 PM

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