Fresh Sharrows on Penn Ave in the Strip


Some shared lane markings, or sharrows, were painted today on Penn Ave in the Strip

City crews were installing sharrows today in the Strip District on Pittsburgh’s most famous street, Penn Avenue.  This is the first of any on-street bicycle marking on the Avenue that runs the length of the City.

workersAs of this post, the sharrows have only been installed from 31st St to 26th St, but the plans call for them all the way to 16th St.  One of the most important functions of this set of markings is to connect Penn Ave with the current bike lanes on Liberty Ave.  Once the Liberty Ave bike lanes end (heading inbound), Liberty Ave gets pretty treacherous with how fast cars tend to travel.  Inbound cyclists can now take a marked route from Liberty Ave in Bloomfield onto 32nd St and then over to Penn Ave through the Strip District.

Sharrows, or shared lane markings, act as much a bicycle facility as an educational tool.  Like the name suggests, the markings designate a “shared lane,” a place where drivers can expect to see cyclists.  It also re-affirms not only our right to the road, but a safer place to ride – outside of the dreaded door zone.

This set of sharrows is the result of a collaboration between Bike Pittsburgh, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Steve Patchan, the Department of City Planning, and the Department of Public Works.  This partnership, known as the Urban Cycling Commitee, has been working on these as well as the other set of bike lanes and sharrows that have been appearing in the past two years.  There are more in the works by the end of the summer.

If you like these types of developments, it is really important to contact the Mayor using his non-emergency response line, better known as 311.  You can call or email your appreciation.  Let him know that you not only approve of, but appreciate this direction that he is taking the City.

Bike lanes and sharrows would not exist without the grassroots efforts of an advocacy group that speaks for cyclists.  So it’s very important show your appreciation for us too!  Come to our BikeFest Kickoff and Fundraiser Party on Friday August 14!  To really show your appreciation, make sure to join us before the main party at the VIP Stimulus Party.


The route inbound from Bloomfield-Lawrenceville

Not a member of Bike Pittsburgh? Join today! We need you to add your voice! Bike Pittsburgh works to protect cyclist’s rights and promote the vision of making Pittsburgh a safer and more enjoyable place to live and to ride. For more info, check out:


  • joefi says:

    Not marked very well. Need more street & pavement signage. A fellow co-worker road in this morning and didn’t even see the pavement signage, so it’s safe to say that not too many drivers saw the pavement signage either. Also, why does the ‘sharrow’ lane end at 26th street (or the future 16th street)? Have it run all the way to the point.

  • erok says:

    well, the short answer is, things take time.

    the reason it’s only going to 16th at the moment, is because past 16th, there is on-street parking, that isn’t allowed for certain hours. this needs to be reassessed, and frankly, takes time.

  • Lyle says:

    Interesting point about the variable parking sitch. Just for the sake of discussion, what would be wrong with placing the sharrows conservatively, as if there were cars parked there at all times?

  • erok says:

    hmm. that would require them to be in the left lane, so when there were no cars there, the sharrows would designate riding over there. otherwise, they’d be in the door zone. we’ve been searching for a solution, contacting other cities to see what they do. can’t find an answer aside from getting rid of the parking and that’s a bigger fish to fry right now than painting a few sharrows.

  • erok says:

    lyle, here’s two examples of what we’re talking about. i took these shots when i was in baltimore.

    1. this shot shows the sharrow right in the door zone:

    2. this one shows it toward the curb more, but when there are cars parked there, the sharrow goes right into the back of a car:

    i almost forgot that i took these because i was underwhelmed.

  • erok says:

    the second one only acts as a sharrow for 2 hours a day

  • Lyle says:

    Yeah, I see what you mean. It doesn’t look like there’s a one-size-fits-all solution.

    I was kind of thinking about getting rid of the lane of traffic, and making it parking 24/7, but I am not really familiar with the traffic there from 7 – 9 am.

    In the final analysis, there are always going to be fluid situations that require some judgement. This might just be one of those.

    Unfortunately, people interpret the sharrow symbol as meaning “bikes are permitted/encouraged here” and so they interpret the lack as meaning “bikes are discouraged here”, and that’s a false impression. How about sharrows in both lanes? That makes it obvious that the cyclist has to choose.

  • jym says:

    =v= San Francisco’s guidelines say that the midpoint of the sharrow has to be 11′ from the curb if cars are parked next to the curb. This is supposed to be far enough to avoid “most” car doors.

    They screwed up some of the earlier stencils (not as badly as Baltimore, though), but they’re positioning them correctly now.

    The sharrows are often closer to the curb along sections of street where there’s no parking.

  • Lyle says:

    I need to clarify that the national guidelines, which are the ones at issue here, specify a _minimum_ of 11′. That number is a little bit abstract. It would help to demonstrate it in person, but here is a video which might be eye-opening for some.

  • jym says:

    =v= Yep. National guidelines were based on S.F.’s pilot program, and 11′ is indeed a minimum.

    Full text is here (warning, 3MB PDF file, “Shared Lane Markings” start on page 526:

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