After nearly three years of work, Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure will present a draft of a new bike plan this fall. The work is part of a wider effort to rethink city streets.
In bike-plan-years, Pittsburgh is old. The last, and only time Pittsburgh released a plan was in 1999. Back then, the Eliza Furnace Trail -- which parallels the Monongahela River, was new and one of the city’s only pieces of bike infrastructure.
A lot has changed since then, and will continue to change, said Kristin Saunders, principal transportation planner.
“We are always making decisions on designs for different streets. Without a plan for the bike route we sometimes are making decisions in conflict with having a connected bike network,” she said. “This document will help us make better decisions for the future of our streets.”
A bike plan that reflects modern tools, such as protected bike lanes, is crucial for the city to move forward, said Eric Boerer of cyclist and pedestrian advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh.
“We're at a critical moment, and the humble bicycle directly addresses issues such as climate change, affordability and air quality,” he said. “Let's make sure that riding one is safe and convenient for all of Pittsburgh's residents.”
After an extensive public outreach campaign last summer, DOMI has spent the year sifting through all of that information. They’ve incorporated traffic data, land uses, and lane widths to inform the bike plan’s network proposal: a system of connected routes that covers the entire city.
“One of the goals of the bike plan is that biking really supports the daily life of Pittsburgh,” she said. “It is going to help us build out more bike infrastructure so that people that currently don’t feel comfortable riding a bike with motor vehicles will feel more comfortable in new facilities.”
Saunders will spend September attending community meetings to share the proposed bike plan and gather feedback. She expects the final document to call for tripling the amount of bike infrastructure from about 60 to 180 miles. She stressed the build-out will occur over many years.
Saunders expects to release a final plan in 2020.
While the new document will outline where bike infrastructure is most needed, it will not include specific design plans. Instead, any proposed project will go to neighborhoods for input before they are built.