We Call On PennDOT to Fix West Carson Street

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Corra Flanagan, daughter of Dennis Flanagan, lays flowers near the ghost bike before the memorial service.

Last night more than two hundred bicyclists gathered at South 27th Street and Tunnel Boulevard to ride for Dennis Flanagan, who was killed one week prior while riding on West Carson Street. Last night we gathered for a number of important reasons:

  • We rode to remember Dennis Flanagan
  • We rode to acknowledge his fate could be any of ours
  • We rode to voice our frustration with PennDOT, who shy from public input, yet whose roads account for the majority of bicycle fatalities in and around our City
  • We rode to demand safe streets
  • We rode to demand that PennDOT provide safe bicycle infrastructure on West Carson

Creating an inclusive design requires including people in the design process. We are all taxpayers and deserve safe designs for the streets through our neighborhoods. Bike lanes and sidewalks are bridges to work, school, and life.

Despite the call for bike infrastructure from many including residents, Mayor Peduto, City Planning, Councilwoman Kail-Smith, State Representative Deasey, the McKees Rocks CDC; the engineers at PennDOT chose to exclude a whole user group from the design. They need to be held accountable.

What can PennDot to to fix the dangerous West Carson St. Corridor?

First, when striping travel lanes at widths meant for highways, you unsurprisingly get highway speeds. Streets that serve neighborhoods should never be striped to encourage speeding. We think they should get rid of the seldom used turning lane, especially if the street design itself encouraged slower speeds. Not a single car used it on our entire half-hour ride back to the city last night. Reports are already surfacing of drivers using the turning lane as a passing lane, another indication that the design encourages dangerous behavior. The PennDOT narrative is that there isn’t room due to the constraints of the hillside and the railroad. However, as we’ve seen on numerous transportation projects throughout the region, where there’s a will, there’s a way. PennDOT has literally moved mountains to complete projects that they’d like to accomplish, yet when it comes to non-motorized mobility, we are constantly facing a litany of reasons and excuses as to why it can’t happen. We understand that every decision has tradeoffs, but the decision to prioritize “level of service” over the safety of all users should not even be debated.

How much is safety worth?

According to PennDOT, it depends on if you have four wheels or two.

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Dennis Flanagan’s brother, Sean Flanagan, spoke before the event asking BikePGH to continue to be aggressive in making Pittsburgh streets safer for bicyclists.

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Over two hundred bicyclists made it out to the event to remember, protest, and ride for Dennis Flanagan.

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The memorial ride began at 27th and went to McKees Rocks and back.

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A ghost bike now marks the spot where Dennis Flanagan was killed while cycling one week ago.

For more coverage on the event last night check out the following media outlets:

NOTE: If you live in State Senator Wayne Fontana’s District, please contact him as well. State Senators and Representatives have influence over PennDOT, in ways that local elected officials do not.

4 Comments

  • gimpPAC says:

    Thanks for all of this Bike PGH. I would argue, that it’s the 4 wheeled motor vehicles that matter more, but they don’t care as much about safety, or the humans behind the wheel or on the bike. If we make the street safer for peds and bikes, it will be inherently safer for cars as well, namely, cutting down on the dangerous speeding and passing. I sure hope PennDOT listens.

  • paulheckbert says:

    The current wide lanes plus “turning” lane encourage people to drive far faster than the posted speed limit. Surely PennDOT, with its decades of experience building roads, knew this would happen. What PennDOT needs to do on West Carson: eliminate the passing lane where it’s not absolutely needed, narrow the lanes, and add PROTECTED bike lanes. Not just paint stripes on the road, but plastic delineators, bollards, planters, or other physical separators between cars and bicycles. This will help reduce speeding on this road, making things safer for not just cyclists, but also pedestrians, motorcyclists, car drivers, and car passengers. We don’t want more deaths on this road.

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