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Mayor proposes spending $135,000 to make Pittsburgh more bike-friendly

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By Jason Cato and Rachel Weaver
Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 1:25 p.m.
 

Pittsburgh could spend more than $135,000 in public money this year to make the city more attractive to bicyclists.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office said on Tuesday the money would pay for 10 miles of bike lanes, more bike racks and improvements to riverfront trails. Further specifics were not available.

The city already has 50 miles of riverfront bike trails/bike lanes and 500 bike racks.

“We have aggressively worked to make Pittsburgh a world-class, bike-friendly city by providing more bike lanes, more bike racks and more on-street bike corrals,” Ravenstahl said.

A $23,000 grant from the Bikes Belong Coalition, a bicycle industry group, would pay for a bike lane on Liberty Avenue that would be painted green to make it safer.

The city will commit an additional $25,000 to a safety initiative sponsored by the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program, which is designed to help ensure drivers and bicyclists are cautious and respectful of one another.

Part of the campaign could focus on state laws that took effect last year requiring motorists to leave a 4-foot “cushion of safety” when passing a bicyclist and yield the right-of-way to bicyclists traveling in the opposite direction when turning left.

“Sharing the streets is something new to Pittsburgh,” said city Councilman Bill Peduto. “It requires communication between drivers of automobiles and riders of bikes. It really needs to be both sides.”

Still, Bicycling Magazine has named Pittsburgh one of its 30 most bike-friendly cities. A new group called Trail Town South Side Pittsburgh hopes to capitalize on the economic potential of bicyclists. It is raising money for a welcome center and a string of kiosks to attract bicyclists on the Great Allegheny Passage to the South Side.

“While we love earning accolades for Pittsburgh, what is more exciting is that these funds will be used to save lives and improve the bicycling and pedestrian experience in our city,” said Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh.

The city budgeted an additional $115,000 for bike transportation planning in 2013. Doven said she anticipated plans for that money will be announced in two weeks.

Jason Cato and Rachael Weaver are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Cato can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com. Weaver can be reached at 412-320-7948 or rweaver@tribweb.com.

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