City starts protected bike lane project
Mayor William Peduto has announced the first phases of the city’s new protected bike lane program, to be built in Schenley Park, Greenfield and Downtown. More lanes will follow around the city in partnership with People for Bikes and the Green Lane Project.
The city’s first protected two-way lanes will be built from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park; along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street (Panther Hollow Trail) in Greenfield; and on Penn Avenue from 11th Street to Stanwix Avenue Downtown.
Penn Avenue traffic Downtown will be changed to inbound-only to accommodate the protected lanes, which will be on the southern (or left) side of the street. Later phases of the Downtown protected lanes are planned to connect to the city’s existing trail systems and the Strip District.
These segments account for just more than one mile out of five that are being partially underwritten through $250,000 in support from the Green Lane Project. The project chose Pittsburgh as one of six cities that will receive such support, and sent Mayor Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Hillman Family Foundations President David Roger and Bike Pittsburgh director Scott Bricker to Denmark to learn about bike infrastructure programs firsthand.
“We’re in the top 30 best cities in the country for cycling but that’s not good enough. We have the ability to be a top 10 city in this country and even do better, and that is going to be the commitment our administration is going to make,” Mayor Peduto said. “We will make sure cycling is not only safe, but a viable part of our economic development strategy and a critical part of our transportation needs.”
Construction on the Greenfield and Schenley Park lanes will begin first later this month and construction Downtown will follow. Officials from the city’s Public Works and Planning departments have met regularly with neighborhood stakeholders in all three parts of the city.
“What the mayor is promising today, and what Public Works and Planning will deliver over the next two months, is a new balance between cyclists and motorists on the roadway, one we’re confident will mean a safer street for both,” said assistant Public Works Director Patrick Hassett of the city’s Bureau of Transportation and Engineering.
“What we’re talking about is essentially a roadway within a roadway. A two-way roadway for cyclists, with its own set of signs and rules, separated by vehicle traffic with road markings and bollards.”
The city is in ongoing talks with the Port Authority of Allegheny County on the impact of the current and future lanes on bus service, and with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority on the small loss of parking spaces. About 20 unmetered spaces used by commuters will be lost in Greenfield and another 20 in the Schenley Park phase between the Carnegie Library Main Branch and Phipps Conservatory.
The city is working with Phipps to add additional spaces nearby.
There will be no changes to the limited number of parking spaces on Penn Avenue Downtown.
Other cities with protected bike lanes have seen them strengthen neighborhood and business development, attract car-phobic millennials and the companies seeking to hire them, and offer healthy commuting options to residents and workers.
“Protected bike lanes have proven to be economic generators from San Francisco to Chicago, and they will be too in Downtown Pittsburgh and other neighborhoods citywide,” Mayor Peduto said.
“These lanes are in keeping with the decades-long revitalization of the Cultural District, and will add human-scale improvements to the Downtown streetscape as it turns into a unique residential neighborhood.”
The budget for this first phase, paid out of city capital funds, is $188,000.
The city Planning and Public Works departments are working with Portland-based Alta Planning and Design, the leading bike/pedestrian planning firm in the United States, to design the lanes. Alta is being paid by People for Bikes/Green Lane Project.