Pedal plan: Downtown’s bike lane must be chosen carefully

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A path is being cleared to create a Downtown that’s more welcoming to bike riders.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced Tuesday that he hopes to have a dedicated lane for bicyclists in place in the city’s core neighborhood by September. The protected lane will be separated from traffic by a physical barrier, but one big question has yet to be answered: Where will it be?

That choice is critical.

Bicycles are an efficient way for people to get around in congested areas, and they are better for the environment than cars or buses. But the selection of a street that can accommodate a bikes-only lane must be made with the understanding that most Downtown workers drive or use mass transit, and they, too, must be able to get around.

Mr. Peduto has said he favors a lane running the length of Smithfield Street, which cuts across the Golden Triangle from the Monongahela River to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. If that would necessitate removing buses from the core of Downtown, however, that could create congestion elsewhere and make mobility too difficult for individuals who have physical disabilities.

He said he’ll rely on experts in selecting the street for a bike lane, one part of a comprehensive review of Downtown traffic patterns. Finding the right place for one is a key to creating a livable Downtown.

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