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Nearly 2 Years After Cyclist’s Death, Bike Lanes Being Installed On Oakland's Busiest Roads

Matt Nemeth
90.5 WESA
Students cross the road on Forbes Avenue in Oakland on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016.

Susan Hicks, a University of Pittsburgh professor, was killed in October of 2015 when her bike was pinned between two cars on Forbes Avenue. Her death was a shock to Pittsburgh's biking community, which had advocated for changes to Oakland's busy roads for years.

Starting Tuesday, bike lanes are being installed on Forbes Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard to help make the roads safer for cyclists navigating these busy roads. The painted bike lanes will be a minimum 5 feet wide, but currently there are no plans to include a physical barrier between car traffic and bikes.

Some bikers feel like theproposed changes to the roads aren't enough to keep bikers safe. Barry Ames, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and an avid cyclist, said the problem lies more in cars speeding to make traffic lights.

"The stretch from Bigelow to past the dinosaur and even past Carnegie Mellon is incredibly dangerous," Ames said. "And since someone was killed, the University and the city have done absolutely nothing to slow traffic down."

The initial installation is expected to be done in one to two weeks, but the full project, which will include repaving the stretch and realigning the streets, will be completed by the end of 2018.

Georgia Petropoulos, Executive Director of the Oakland Business Improvement District, said the community wants Oakland's streets to be equally accessible, and safe, for drivers and bikers.

"Ultimately, the best scenario for Oakland is going to be accommodating everyone because we're a downtown, we're dense, we have a large population, and safety is paramount," Petropoulos said. "Safety has understandably been a concern for the cycling community.

She said the number of bikers in Oakland will likely rise in the coming weeks when the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University begin fall classes.

The city's "complete streets" approach will effect the roughly 1-mile stretch on Forbes between Bigelow Boulevard and Margaret Morrison Street.