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Development & Transportation
Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

City Continues To Expand Cycling Infrastructure

Sarah Kovash
90.5 WESA

The North Side will become the home of the city's newest bike lanes. 

The City of Pittsburgh is installing bike lanes on East Street in the North Side, between Suffolk Street and Lareda Street.

In September, the city installed bike lanes along Bigelow Boulevard and Bayard Street in Oakland.

Kristin Saunders, City of Pittsburgh bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, says the plan is to expand the bicycle infrastructure even more.

Saunders said the city will host a workshop next month with the National Complete Streets Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to ensuring street designs benefit all modes of transportation.

They will facilitate a workshop with city employees and community groups who are involved in transportation and will draft a complete streets policy in a day-and-a-half, according to Saunders.

She says the city is also working on plans to apply for a Federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant through PennDOT, which could help fund some of the plans that come out of the workshop.

“It’s just kind of moving away from designing for one mode of transportation,” she says, “which for a long time has been the car, and designing for all modes."

Regardless of where they ride, she said cyclists should be alert and aware of everything around them, just as drivers do while operating a car.

Laws in place say cyclists must have a bright front light and a reflector on the back, but the more light a cyclist has, the better, according to Saunders.

“Especially as we go into kind of the winter and darker months,” she says. “I have a lot of lights on my bike, but it doesn’t really hurt you to have any more.”

She says drivers should also be aware while sharing the road with cyclists, and she suggests that drivers try riding a bike to understand what it is like to be a cyclist on the road.

“It’s hard to know what it feels like to be a bicycle on a road with a lot of fast-moving, heavy vehicles until you’ve done it once,” she says. “And then I think you’ll have a lot more awareness of what that cyclist feels like and ... how vulnerable it can be to share a road with vehicles.”

She says as winter approaches, the biggest safety concerns for cyclists are visibility and staying warm.

The City of Pittsburgh is a member of the National Association of Transportation Officials, which is comprised of several cities throughout North America that meet and share ideas on biking infrastructure.

“If we have, say an issue with a bike lane and we’re having trouble figuring out the design details, we get to present it to a large group of sort of bicycle and pedestrian professionals across the nation and get feedback, which is something we’ve used a couple times and it’s really, really valuable,” she says.

She says Pittsburgh looks to a lot of other cities for examples on biking infrastructure, including New York and Philadelphia.