Council to consider $800K for bike lanes in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is preparing to spend $800,000 to complete a long-awaited bicycling link from the Smithfield Street Bridge to Point State Park via Fort Pitt Boulevard.
City Council on Tuesday introduced a bill that would permit the mayor’s office to seek construction bids for that project and an extension of a dedicated bike lane along East Street in the North Side.
Mayor Bill Peduto said the two projects would provide important safe links in the city’s growing bike trail system. He compared Pittsburgh’s riverfront trails to a super highway and said the city is working to build connections from the trails into neighborhoods.
“We want to create safe routes so that people who choose to use a bike for transportation can get to wherever they need to get to safely and make our streets safer for motorists,” Peduto said Wednesday. “We want to make it so that every neighborhood is accessible for bikes.”
Peduto has been lauded and lambasted for his support of dedicated bicycle lanes, particularly one that runs along Penn Avenue through the Strip District into Downtown. Some motorists and businesses have complained that the bicycle lanes cause traffic congestion, encroach on parking spaces, and aren’t always used enough or properly. Bicyclists say they love them and the lanes provide a dedicated space for them on city streets.
“This isn’t a pastime. This is a mode of transportation that many people choose,” Peduto said.
The mayor’s office declined to discuss details of the two latest projects. Peduto spokeswoman Katie O’Malley said officials first want to discuss them with council members. Council next week is expected to vote on the legislation.
Plans call for a $771,000 connection between the Great Allegheny Passage and Point State Park and a $65,000 extension of a dedicated bike lane along East Street.
The park connection would travel along Fort Pitt Boulevard, Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue to the park.
Eric Boerer, advocacy director for BikePGH, said the city had planned a dedicated bike lane on the boulevard. He said travelers are confused about which way to go while riding the Great Allegheny Passage to its terminus on Grant Street.
He said a bike lane would alleviate that problem and provide a better way for bicyclists to access Downtown businesses.
“It links the Mon to the Allegheny (River) through Downtown,” Boerer said. “It’s going to make it easier for people to access their jobs, access their business and for tourists coming into town.”
Craig Morrow, owner of Bicycle Haven, a museum and repair shop in the city’s Chateau neighborhood, said it would also provide access to the North Shore trail via the Sixth Street Bridge.
“I get so many people from out of the state and out of the country, and I know it’s hard for them to travel from the Mon to here,” he said. “A lot of them will drive over here and they’ll park and get on the trail and ride to Point State Park.”
The East Street bike lane is being built in phases and would create a loop from the North Shore Trail to Riverfront Park through Perrysville and Riverview avenues and a series of North Side streets to Woods Run and back to the trail near Western Penitentiary.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or [email protected].