Downtown bike lane sees more than 24,000 rides in May |

Downtown bike lane sees more than 24,000 rides in May

James Knox | Trib Total Media
Pittsburgh Police Officer Dewayne Hart patrols the protected bike lane along Penn Avenue near 9th Street Thursday morning Sept. 11, 2014 downtown.

Each time a set of bike tires crosses a pair of thin rubber tubes along Penn Avenue, the trip is tracked, time-stamped and transmitted to a server.

In May, riders logged more than 24,000 trips on the route, according to figures the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership released Thursday.

The group laid three counters on the 600, 900 and 1200 blocks of Penn Avenue across the protected bike lanes in mid-April to track use.

Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the partnership, said the group wanted data to continue the discussion about bike lane use and development Downtown. Installed in September, the Penn Avenue bike lanes supplanted a traffic lane.

The installation of bike lanes in parts of the city and the start of a bike rental program has drawn criticism from some motorists and residents in recent months.

“There’s been a lot of discussions about the effectiveness of the bike lanes in general,” Waldrup said. “We wanted good data to begin to have intelligent conversations about the utility of lanes and begin to understand how folks use them, when they use them, whether it impacts trips.”

Data from May shows an average of 740 trips each weekday, or about 41 trips per hour from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Peak times include the morning and evening rush hours, suggesting Downtown employees are biking to work.

The counters cost the group $2,650 each. They are designed to track bikes, Waldrup said, detecting tires but not foot traffic through the lanes. For now, the counters on Penn Ave will remain there. The partnership plans monthly releases of trip data, or more frequent updates on its website.

Eric Boerer, advocacy director for bike and pedestrian nonprofit Bike Pittsburgh, said he is encouraged by the figures. He expects them to increase now that HealthyRide, the city’s new bike share program, is operational.

The city is conducting manual bike counts in neighborhoods around the city to obtain similar data. The last was held in May.

Bike Pittsburgh supports more bike lanes across the city, a vision shared by Mayor Bill Peduto, who has a “complete streets” policy designed to create safe bike and pedestrian travel alongside cars.

“The safety increase far outweighs any inconvenience people may have,” Boerer said.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or [email protected].

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