Green Lane picks Pittsburgh for bike lane project

Cyclists are often forced to the sidewalks because of unsafe road conditions and lack of bike lanes. Madison Krupp | Point Park News Service

Cyclists say they often are forced to the sidewalks because of unsafe road conditions and lack of bike lanes. Madison Krupp | Point Park News Service

By Madison Krupp, Point Park News Service:

The Green Lane Project 2.0 by People for Bikes is coming to Pittsburgh.

The nonprofit will donate $25,000, as well as $250,000 of in-kind services from its technical experts and engineers, which will attempt to transform the city into a Mecca for bicyclists.

This initiative will mark Downtown roadways so drivers know where cyclists can share the road.

“Pittsburgh is moving to more of a cycling city, and more attention to providing the safety necessary to promote more is essential,” said bicyclist Meg Nowak of Valencia, Butler County.

Bike Pittsburgh will reap the benefits from the Green Lane Project 2.0 decision to select Pittsburgh as one of six U.S. cities to receive donations for better bike lanes. Proponents say it will create less hectic streets while promoting active lifestyles and easier travel.

Bike Pittsburgh started in 2002 after bicyclist David Hoffman was struck by a car Downtown. Hoffman wanted to do something about the dangers of road riding in the city and started a website to promote biking safety.  In the past 12 years, Bike Pittsburgh has come to represent riders and walkers.

“The mayor has committed to five miles of physically separated bike lanes,” said Eric Boerer, advocacy director for Bike Pittsburgh.

These lanes will be developed in phases over the next two years.

Green Lane also has chosen Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis and Seattle for projects to develop a better relationship between drivers and cyclists. These cities have been chosen from more than 100 applicants.

“The Green Lane Project will help the city get that expertise and start rethinking a lot of these streets to try to assess the current use,” Boerer said. “This means asking questions about how much parking is necessary, whether we need parking on both sides of the road, and whether or not we can get away with less lanes of automobile traffic. … We’re at this point where we really need to start rethinking how the real estate on the street is.”

Bike Pittsburgh wants people to feel comfortable sharing the road with drivers. Boerer said some riders are “interested but concerned” about safety. These are people who want to ride a bike to be active or save money, but feel uncomfortable next to cars.

“For every driver that doesn’t like a bike in their way, there’s a bicyclist who doesn’t like a car honking at them,” Boerer said.

This project will open up the opportunity for people in Pittsburgh to become more active. Nowak said road riding gave her an entirely new appreciation for the city. Although she enjoys road riding, she won’t do it alone.

“I have a few friends who have been hit by motorists, even when they were riding in bike lanes,” Nowak said.

Sara Tallerico, a student at Point Park University, also is an active cyclist, but there are some things she won’t do on her bike.

“I love to ride my bike almost everywhere, but I’m too scared to ride it Downtown to class,” Tallerico said.

Riding bicycles can also help commuters save money everyday.

“I choose to ride a bike because parking Downtown is cost prohibitive, and I figured out that if I pack a lunch and ride a bike, I can save myself about $17 a day,” Point Park professor Christopher Rolinson said.

Green Lane representatives have been in Pittsburgh meeting with stakeholders, the mayor, other nonprofits and  interested parties to discuss how to cater to the city.  There will be an official kickoff party in Indianapolis in late April for representatives of the class of 2014 cities to meet each other.

Ideas for the project can be sent to info@bikepgh.org.  More information on bikes will be available at the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place Conference scheduled for the David Lawrence Convention Center, Sept. 8-11.

“It’s very cool to see Pittsburgh being at the forefront of something new and exciting,” Boerer said. “We often are playing catch up to some of the more progressive cities, so it’s cool to see us at the cutting edge of this stuff.”

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Category: News, Spring 2014

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