Concerning Max Sestil’s Dec. 2 letter (“Signs Should Provide Rules for Cyclists in Various Zones”): Pittsburgh streets are mostly narrow. In Denmark and other places around the world where the terrain is flat and streets are wide, it is easy to construct bicycle superhighways to accommodate bicycles as a means of everyday transportation. The real solution to have bikes added to the mix with other vehicles is wider streets and dedicated bike lanes with barriers between motorists and cyclists. Most of Allegheny County doesn’t have sidewalks, let alone bike lanes.
As for bicycle law enforcement, there is none. A Jeep ran a red light on Grant Street. A bicycle police officer was there and I asked him to give the Jeep driver a ticket. The officer just looked at me and smiled. I’m pretty sure that if I ran a light on my bike I’d get away with it as well.
The police respond only to crime and emergencies. Just ask a police officer what rank traffic law enforcement has on the priority list. The low number of police is a response to not raising taxes, which seems to be the only way to get elected to political office these days.
The solution is to have certain streets dedicated to bicycle traffic only. In Chicago, where I grew up, I rode the flat side streets to get from place to place. We don’t have anything like that. Wherever possible, there should be dedicated bike trails and they should be interconnected so that people can use bikes as a means of transportation. It will take lots of money, but compared to the cost of building streets and highways the cost is minuscule.
The lobbying that goes on in Congress and at state and local levels by the auto industry and the oil companies attempts to cut alternative transportation from every bill introduced.
Only pressure from groups like Rails-to-Trails, Bike Pittsburgh and others helps to preserve some of that funding. So, if you really want to separate motor vehicles from bikes and pedestrians, it will cost money. Also, support the bicycle advocacy organizations, whether or not you ride a bike. Numbers count and your support will help make things happen.
DANIEL A. KARACZUN