South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Residents oppose taking parking away for 18th Street bike lane


A cyclist pedals his way up 18th Street in an area city officials are proposing to locate a bike lane. To establish the lane, parking will have to be removed from one side of 18th Street from Fox Way to Monastery Place.

Jamie Balser doesn't see the proposed 18th Street bike lane as biking issue, but a parking issue.

The City of Pittsburgh is considering creating a climbing lane for bicycles up 18th Street from Edwards Way to Monastery Place. Bikes coming down the hill would have to continue to share the existing travel lane with cars and trucks.

In May, Kristin Saunders, bicycle/pedestrian coordinator in the Dept. of City Planning, discussed the South 18th Street climbing lane draft plan at the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association's public meeting.

She said the route would continue with shared lane markings and signage to the trail head at the riverfront to the north and to the Warrington and Arlington business districts.

She said narrowing travel lanes to 10-feet and striping a parking lane would slow traffic and encourage vehicles to park fully in the street.

Parking would be removed from beside the uphill travel lane to allow room for the bike lane. Residents and others would have to park beside the downhill lane.

Mr. Balser isn't in favor of the 18th Street bike lane without more public input. Although he lives on 18th Street, he says taking the parking away won't affect him, preferring to park in his garage. However, he's concerned it will affect elderly in the neighborhood who may be forced to park blocks away, up or down the hill, if parking is restricted to one side.

Taking his concerns to the street, Mr. Balser developed a short survey and knocked on every door from Edwards Way to Monastery, about 100 in all he said. Of those who answered their door and agreed to participate in his survey he said the results were unanimous.

In all, 33 residents responded to the survey and said they were opposed to removing parking to put in a bike lane. Mr. Balser said some of those opposed to taking away the parking were also in favor of a bike lane.

Councilman Bruce Kraus said the bike lane isn't a given and is still in the discussion phase.

"That doesn't mean it won't happen," he cautioned.

The current plan is only one of several that was considered. The original plan was to take the bike lane all the way down 18th Street to the trail at the South Side Riverfront Park and up to Arlington Avenue.

Mr. Kraus said removing parking between Edwards Way and the river wouldn't work, eliminating too many spaces in the Flats.

A second plan was also considered that would establish the lane from Edwards Way to Arlington Avenue. It also was rejected in favor of ending at lane Monastery Place.

The councilman said an overhaul of the 18th and Josephine streets intersection is also in the works. Calling the section of road between Josephine and Mission Street "disorganized," Mr. Kraus said the area is convoluted with many residents forced to park on the sidewalk in the area.

Disabled residents have a hard time with the cars parking on the sidewalk there, he added.

The councilman said calls to his office have been evenly split between for and against the bike lane.

"Clearly there's a constituency that would like to see it," he said.

Kristin Raup, president of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) said the group hasn't taken and official position on the bike lane. The association would prefer to facilitate discussion between neighbors who are in support of it, those who are not, as well as those who have questions or concerns.

Ms. Raup said the SSSNA included a brief article in their recent newsletter with contact information for Ms. Saunders for questions and comments.

South Side Street Smarts is hosting Ms. Saunders tonight, Tuesday, July 18, 6 p.m. at the Urban Tap where she will bring new drawings. The SSSNA planned to promote the meeting with an eblast and social media.

Moving forward, Mr. Balser said he would like to see a more open process with more community input before determining whether a bike lane is installed.


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