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Bike to Work Day participants don't have to worry about tunnel traffic

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Anne Marie Toccket (from left) of Highland Park, Barb Murock of Squirrel Hill and Lindsay Dill, a volunteer from Bike Pittsburgh, chat while waiting for the light to change on Friday, May 16, 2014, at Smithfield Street and Fort Pitt Boulevard, Downtown. The trio commuted from Oakland on National Bike to Work Day.

Common Pleas Court Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco doesn't care if her windbreaker matches her backpack, but shoes — they vex her.

“That was the hardest thing for me to adjust to,” said Hens-Greco, 56, of Squirrel Hill, who rides her bike to work. “I can handle the bike, the traffic. But packing an outfit with half my closet at home and half at work — well, it's probably best for everyone that I wear a robe.”

Decked in a snug rainbow of fluorescent cycling jerseys and stretchy compression pants, commuters biked en masse through the chill on Friday in celebration of National Bike to Work Day.

Pittsburgh's biking culture is evolving, said City Planning Director Ray Gastil, whose own worn bicycle lay nearby in Market Square.

“We're really lucky,” said Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker. “We're at this great time right now when there's all this energy around good urban design and safe streets for people regardless of whether they're 8 years old or 80 years old.”

Commuter groups met for coffee and treats at Whole Foods in East Liberty and near the Duquesne University arch in Uptown, where daily riders blended break stations with friendly conversation.

“Biking has so many benefits for the environment, for your personal health and for easing congestion around the city,” said David Lampe, associate biology professor at Duquesne. “For people who need a little nudge to bike to work, this is a perfect day to give it a try.”

The nationwide event took place just weeks after the 2014 National Biking and Walking Benchmarking Report gave Pittsburgh bronze honors. The report, published biennially by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with the Alliance for Biking and Walking, shows 1.5 per­­cent of Steel City residents commute by bicycle, exceeding the 1 percent average for large U.S. cities.

The city doesn't have protected bike lanes — separated from vehicle traffic by a physical barrier — also known as cycle tracks. Painted or marked bicycle lanes cover about 70 miles of city streets.

Workers will install the first protected Downtown bike lane as a demonstration project by late summer, before the city hosts the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference in September, Mayor Bill Peduto has said. Another protected lane will be installed elsewhere in the city.

Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412- 388-5815 or mharris@tribweb.com.

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