Pittsburgh to start work on bike-only lanes next week

Installation of bicycle-only lanes on Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh and the Strip District will begin next week, Mayor Bill Peduto announced.

The protected lanes will be placed on the eastbound side of Penn from Sixth to 16th streets. That is a change from the initial plan to have the lanes from Stanwix to 11th streets.

When the project is completed, two bike lanes, one in each direction, will occupy the eastbound side of the street. Eastbound traffic will be removed from Penn and rerouted to Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Liberty Avenue, which are parallel to Penn. Two Port Authority bus routes, 8 Perrysville and O1 Ross Flyer, will be rerouted. Westbound traffic and on-street parking will not change.

Traffic restrictions for the installation have not been finalized, said Timothy McNulty, spokesman for Mr. Peduto. He said he expected the work to proceed mostly at night.

A row of delineators, collapsible posts with reflectors on them, will separate the bike lanes from vehicular traffic. The street will be restriped to accommodate two-way bicycle traffic. There are no plans to paint the road surface green as was done on a bike lane on Liberty Avenue at the Bloomfield Bridge, Mr. McNulty said.

The original location of the Penn Avenue lanes was changed because the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority plans to excavate the block between Stanwix and Sixth streets to replace a sewer, he said. Long-term plans call for extension of the bike lanes to that block, but that won’t happen this year.

The city also hopes eventually to build a direct connection from Penn Avenue to the bike trail network that lines the rivers in Downtown and to expand the lanes eastward on Penn, he said.

The Penn Avenue work is one of three protected lane projects announced by Mr. Peduto last month. Lanes also are being placed from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park and along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street at the Panther Hollow Trail in Greenfield. The Saline Street project is nearly complete.

The city wants the lanes open before Sept. 8, when it will host the 18th Pro Bike/Pro Walk/Pro Place conference, bringing an estimated 1,000 city planners, transportation engineers and bicycling and pedestrian advocates here.

Mr. Peduto has pledged to expand the number of bike-only lanes in the city, saying that has promoted development and attracted young professionals and companies to other cities while promoting public health.

“Protected bike lanes have proven to be economic generators from San Francisco to Chicago, and they will be too in Downtown Pittsburgh and other neighborhoods citywide,” he said in announcing the three projects.

Merrill Stabile, president of Alco Parking, which owns a garage that has entrances and exits on Penn, praised the project as “a great amenity,” saying it might even improve traffic flow. Penn Avenue “was one way heading west many years ago and as I recall, it worked quite efficiently,” he said.

Work to begin on bike-only lanes

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Twitter: @pgtraffic.

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