Bike lanes coming to 3 bridges in Pittsburgh
Randy Kimble doesn't own a car.
He relies on his bike to get around Pittsburgh, and that includes dodging potholes and cars whizzing by him on the Roberto Clemente Bridge beside PNC Park on the North Shore.
But Kimble said bike lanes alongside busy city streets have made his commute safer and less stressful in the past year.
“It's just not on bridges. It's everywhere. It started in Bloomfield, then it was in Oakland, and now it's here,” Kimble, 25, of Bloomfield said while stopped at the edge of the Clemente Bridge. Painted or marked bicycle lanes now cover about 70 miles of city streets.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Wednesday announced plans to install more lanes, these along the Clemente and the Philip Murray, or South 10th Street, bridges. They will cut vehicle traffic on the bridges from four lanes to two while giving bicyclists a connection between Downtown and the North Shore and South Side.
Mayor Bill Peduto campaigned on making Pittsburgh more bike-friendly. The city finished work on protected bike lanes in Schenley Park and Greenfield before Labor Day. Work started on Wednesday on a bike-only lane between Sixth Street, Downtown, and 16th Street in the Strip District and should be finished this week, spokesman Tim McNulty said.
“Each day, I hear from more people who want to bike through our neighborhoods to get to their workplace, home or various events and appointments,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “We want those people to be safe when they do so, and these bike lanes reflect our commitment to play an active role in ensuring that safety.
Peduto also promised five miles of bike lanes when he accepted a $250,000, two-year PeopleForBikes grant through the Green Lane Project, a consortium of cities working to improve bicycle infrastructure.
Not everyone shares the excitement of city and county leaders. Bike lanes along Saline Street in Greenfield angered some businesses that lost parking spots. Joe Brown, 28, of the North Side thinks the bridges' bike lanes will clog traffic.
“I don't think they should be on the road anyway,” Brown, who runs a small towing company, said of bicyclists as cars backed up over the 10th Street Bridge during the afternoon rush hour. “They just get in the way.”
About 12,000 cars cross the South 10th Street Bridge daily, and 7,700 cross the Clemente Bridge, or Sixth Street Bridge, according to county traffic counts. More than 80,000 cars cross the Fort Pitt Bridge, the busiest in the city, which PennDOT maintains.
Bob Lakomy, 59, of Lincoln Place frequently drives across the Clemente Bridge. He didn't think the bike lanes would affect traffic much. Neither did Anthony Felsing, 29, of the South Side, who bikes daily over the South 10th Street Bridge.
“I'm pretty sure it's safer if they put in a bike lane,” Felsing said. “Share the road.”
The bike lanes, one in each direction, will consist of a 5-foot-wide lane with a 3-foot buffer. The lanes on the Clemente Bridge, which will tie into the trail system, will remain accessible when the bridge is closed to vehicular traffic for Pirates games and special events.
Fitzgerald said work on the Clemente Bridge should be done by Oct. 30. A start date is uncertain. The county has not yet set plans for the South 10th Street Bridge, where bikers will be able to connect to the Eliza Furnace Trail.
The county also will set up temporary bike lanes on the Andy Warhol Bridge, or Seventh Street Bridge, so people attending the Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference can more easily bike to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The lanes will remain in place through Sept. 13. Installation is scheduled to begin after rush hour on Thursday morning and finish by the end of the day. Workers will direct traffic.
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.