The Making of a Bike Lane
Cyclists using this popular commuting route, that connects the neighborhoods of the Southside, Oakland, the Hill, Uptown, and Downtown, will be in for a surprise when the Birmingham Bridge reopens. During it’s partial closure in PennDOT’s rehabilitation work, Bike Pittsburgh met with PennDOT officials to discuss bicycle improvements. We recommended to PennDOT that they install buffered bike lanes, try to calm traffic, create safe crossings across the interchanges, make the transitions to the connecting roads better, and create a debris buffer for the weekend’s broken beer bottles to collect. With these needs in mind, PennDOT District 11 sent out their engineers to see what they could do. PennDOT recognized the need for these improvements and soon incorporated them into the design.
Built in 1978 for a highway that never materialized, the bridge was overbuilt, sort of like a pair of pants that you never grow into. Since then, drivers have been treating this neighborhood bridge like a highway, usually far exceeding the 35 mph posted speed limit. Today, on September 26, they started striping the south bound side. The bike lanes look great with reflective paint creating a buffer on each side, one from cars, one from debris. This makes the bicycle travel area as wide as the car travel area. The photo to the right shows (from left to right): the car travel lane, a buffer, the bike lane, then another buffer for debris. For the interchange, where cyclists must cross oncoming traffic from the Forbes Ave ramp, you can see a worker putting down the stencils. The crossing will be painted bright blue, with stencils on the approach as well as alongside the crossing warning cars to watch for cyclists. There will also be warnings for cyclists to watch for cars, so we must still remain careful when approaching the crossing.
Stay tuned as we follow the progress on this exciting development.
To see more photos of the progress, or larger versions of these, click here. We’ll keep posting them as it unfolds.
This is one more piece of the puzzle of cycling improvements coming to Pittsburgh, but we can’t stop here. Now that the Bridge is showing it’s bike friendly colors, the next piece to work for is the connection from the Bridge to Craft Ave in Oakland, an area that’s been under fire recently. Click here to find out why.