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.
For more coverage on the event last night check out the following media outlets:
- KDKA – Bicyclists Call For More Biker-Friendly Streets After West End Fatal Accident
- Post-Gazette – More than 200 bicyclists remember cyclist killed on West Carson
- Trib Live – Cyclists honor fellow biker who died in West Carson Street collision
- WPXI – Bicyclists ride to remember biker killed on W. Carson Street, protest PennDOT
- WTAE – Bicyclists to gather for ride of remembrance and protest
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.