Pittsburgh ready to roll with bike lanes

Group introduces detailed plans

For Bike Pittsburgh executive director Scott Bricker, standing in front of a lectern Thursday flanked by cardboard renderings of Pittsburgh’s new protected bike lanes, was the “pinnacle of his career,” a project a decade in the making.

“This is the type of infrastructure people are calling for,” he said during the news conference. “No more running with the bulls on Fifth Avenue. We’re going to be changing this city so families can bike with their kids, older folks can bike all over the city, to get to life, to connect kids to their schools and people to work and grocery stores and places of entertainment.”

The two-way protected bike lanes, the first for Pittsburgh, are scheduled to be finished by Labor Day, including a segment Downtown that will make Penn Avenue inbound only for vehicles, city officials said.

The first phase of the initiative, which also will install the lanes from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park and along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street, has been a long time coming for the city’s cycling community, Mayor Bill Peduto said.

“You’ve been the ones who have been advocating for years, knowing Pittsburgh has the infrastructure to be able to build out a cycling infrastructure as we build out our streets and development,” Mr. Peduto said, crediting Bike Pittsburgh, a nonprofit that aims to make Pittsburgh safer and more accessible for bicycles, with laying the framework for a citywide cycling system. “Today, we start on that journey with you. ... Today, we put the money and the infrastructure behind it to get it started.”

Proposed protected bicycle lanes .

The most significant change is along Penn Avenue, which will become one-way between 11th and Stanwix streets, extending from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to Point State Park.

“There will obviously be some traffic impact, said Patrick Hassett, assistant director of public works. However, Mr. Hassett said the city believes Liberty Avenue and Fort Duquesne Boulevard will be able to absorb the additional flow.

Former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s administration budgeted the $188,000 cost of the approximately 1.5 miles of lanes, Mr. Peduto said. They will feature independent lane markings and bollards to separate cyclists and motorists.

“Our streets are our most complex real estate that the city has to deal with. The secret of effectively managing those streets is striking a balance between their use, whether it’s the motorists, the pedestrians and cyclist,” Mr. Hassett said. “We’re essentially talking about a roadway within a roadway.”

Mr. Peduto, who announced that he will buy a bicycle after a grant-funded trip to the “cycling Mecca” of Copenhagen, Denmark, said the lanes are the beginning of a long process to transform Pittsburgh into a more bike-friendly place.

PeopleForBikes, a nonprofit organization based in Boulder, Colo., selected Pittsburgh as one of six new cities to receive a $250,000 award for two years of financial, strategic and technical assistance to make the city more accommodating to cycling.

“It’s going to be systematic,” Mr. Peduto said, adding that city will incorporate biking elements as it takes on major road, sewer and other types of projects. By April, the city and Bike Pittsburgh hope to launch a bicycle-sharing system with 50 stations and 500 bicycles.

Robert Zullo: 412-263-3909 or rzullo@post-gazette.com. Twitter: @rzullo. First Published July 3, 2014 12:00 AM

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