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Pittsburgh’s first bike-only traffic light designed to make Oakland intersection safer |

Pittsburgh’s first bike-only traffic light designed to make Oakland intersection safer

| Thursday, August 31, 2017 4:51 p.m
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
A new traffic light for cyclists has been installed at the corner of South Bellefield and Forbes avenues in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.

An Oakland intersection that was the site of a crash that killed a bicyclist in 2015 is the location of Pittsburgh’s first bicycle-only traffic light.

The light – which looks like a normal traffic signal aside from the lit-up bicycle that appears rather than a solid red, yellow or green light – helps direct cyclists through an intersection that previously was not as bicycle-friendly.

Traffic headed inbound on Forbes Avenue must turn right onto Bellefield Avenue, as Forbes turns into a one-way street in the opposite direction, but cyclists headed in the same direction are able to continue straight on Forbes.

“It’s not safe for cyclists following the traffic light on Forbes,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Daniel Gilman, city councilman for the neighborhood. “The can continue straight, and that means crossing into the path of cars.”

The bicycle signal allows for cyclists to safely continue on in the Forbes bike lane without crossing into the path of traffic.

University of Pittsburgh professor Susan Hicks was killed at the intersection in 2015 as she waiting in traffic. A driver rear-ended the vehicle behind her, pinning her between that car and the one in front of her.

“It operates just like a traffic signal,” Gilman said. He noted that Oakland is one of the most heavily traveled neighborhoods by cyclists, but it has lacked bicycle infrastructure. The bike signal is one aspect of planning improvement for the entire Forbes corridor, he said.

Forbes is the site of relatively new bike lanes that are also a first for the city – contra-flow bike lanes, which allow cyclists to safely ride against the flow of traffic on a one-way street.

“If you were coming from Craig Street or (Carnegie Mellon University), it was a really difficult set of turns and maneuvers in fast-moving traffic,” said Eric Boerer, advocacy director for BikePGH. “This simplifies things for people.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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