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Pittsburgh examining dedicated bike lanes Downtown

Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review - A bicyclist crosses the intersection of Smithfield Street and the Boulevard of the Allies on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review</em></div>A bicyclist crosses the intersection of Smithfield Street and the Boulevard of the Allies on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review - A bicyclist waits for the light to change at the intersection of Sixth Street and Penn Avenue on April 1, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review</em></div>A bicyclist waits for the light to change at the intersection of Sixth Street and  Penn Avenue on April 1, 2014.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 10:45 a.m.
 

Pittsburgh officials plan a major study of Downtown transportation this month that could produce dedicated bicycle lanes and alter car and bus traffic in the heart of the city, Mayor Bill Peduto said on Tuesday.

Peduto said it will be the city's closest look at Downtown transportation since the 1950s.

“What we do in the next 10 years will define what the city looks like for the next 100 years,” Peduto said during the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's annual meeting in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Workers will install the first Downtown bike lane — separated from vehicle traffic by a physical barrier — as a demonstration project by late summer, before the city hosts the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference in September, Peduto said. Another protected lane will be installed elsewhere in the city.

“It's the first of what I hope will be many bike lanes Downtown,” said Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership CEO Jeremy Waldrup.

The conference is expected to draw thousands of the nation's urban planners, bicycle advocates and others. The timing of installing the Downtown bike lane coincides with the scheduled introduction of a bike-sharing program in August.

Peduto said city officials haven't decided where the first bike lanes will be. The city is receiving a $20,000 grant from Colorado-based nonprofit advocacy group PeopleForBikes to help build five miles of protected bike lanes.

Last year, officials from the Lawrenceville-based bicycle advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership identified Fort Pitt Boulevard as a possible east-west artery for a Downtown bike lane and Smithfield Street as a possible north-south artery.

The Fort Pitt bike lane would connect the end of the Eliza Furnace Trail to Point State Park, where bicyclists could easily make their way to trails that run along either side of the Allegheny River.

The city doesn't have any protected bike lanes, also known as cycle tracks. Painted or marked bicycle lanes cover about 70 miles of city streets.

The protected lanes would separate bicyclists from vehicle traffic with a barrier such as poles, jersey barriers, curbs or a parking lane.

“We have a very confined space Downtown, but it's still very doable,” Peduto said.

Making room in some of the most confined spaces could result in some streets being converted to one-way streets or on-street parking being eliminated in some areas, Waldrup said.

Peduto said the transportation study also will look at adjusting transit routes in Downtown, which he described as inefficient. That portion of the study could take a year.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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