Biking In Pittsburgh, The Next Frontier

Oct 24, 2018

The number of people who bike in Pittsburgh continues to grow. The aim of the city’s bike plan is to ensure the infrastructure grows, too, but with high levels of public input.

Stand on the right street corner in downtown of a morning and it feels like birding, ticking off the species of passing cyclist: sleek road bikes, bouncing mountain bikes, the cruisers, Healthy Ride stallions, functional junkers, and if timed just right, the rare and elusive tall bike.

According to the American Community Survey estimates, between 1.6 and 2.6 percent of residents in Pittsburgh commute to work by bike. But the results of a 2015 Green Building Alliance survey found that number to be higher: of 20,000 commuters who provided information, 4.2 percent reported biking to and from work. (The Green Building Alliance and its regional partners are running the survey again). 

The Department of Mobility and Infrastructure or DOMI wants to encourage transportation options that don’t involve a single occupancy vehicle. Bike infrastructure is one part of that, said Kristin Saunders, a principal transportation planner with the city. 

Light purple highlighted areas represent network gaps where there is little or no current support for bikers. Solid blue lines are current bike routes, and solid green lines are trails. Dotted blue lines are proposed bike routes and dotted green lines are proposed trails.
Credit Department of Mobility and Infrastructure / City of Pittsburgh

“People are going to be biking whether we build infrastructure or not,” she said. “We see providing that option of safe bicycle routes throughout the city as a benefit for everyone who lives here. It’s providing another transportation option.”

While the first round of resident feedback kicked off in 2016, the city held another series of public meetings earlier this month. Part of the bike plan development process is changing how the city solicits input.

“So that no community has any fear of a bike lane showing up in front of their house without knowing about it,” said Saunders. “So we’re conducting public outreach with consistency.”

In addition, city planners aren’t showing residents a short list of options on which to provide feedback. Instead, they’ve posted a Wikimap, an interactive map of the city, and asked people to draw routes they’d like to see, note conflict points, or leave other comments.

The Wikimap remains open for comment until Nov. 9, then DOMI will review all public feedback before issuing a draft plan for further review in 2019.