New East Ohio Street bike lanes open for business

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Segment includes PennDOT’s first parking-protected bike lane in PA (we think)

When the Northside Bike/Ped Committee heard that PennDOT was planning to rebuild a section of East Ohio St, they stepped into action. Instead of simply asking PennDOT to create a design that accounts for bikes, Pashek Associates, a planning firm based on the street, stepped in to use their skills to design a concept for the neighborhood group, pro bono. The Committee and Pashek then sat down with PennDOT to explain how the revised roadway could work.

Several months and many revisions later, PennDOT decided to go with a design that includes a segment with a parking protected bike lane, quite possibly the first of its kind that PennDOT has built in the state of Pennsylvania (please let us know if we are wrong).

eastohioWhile the segment is short, spanning only a couple of blocks, it does provide a needed connection between the East Ohio business district and points west to the neighborhood of East Allegheny and points east.

A highlight of this project is a westbound segment that is a parking protected bike lane, only the second of its kind in the City (Schenley Dr preceded it), and possibly the first one that PennDOT installed on a state-owned road in the State of Pennsylvania. The design also features a 120-foot concrete median on the approach to the intersection, allowing drivers enough time to spot an approaching bicyclist, and for the bicyclist to react appropriately.

While we’re glad to see bike lane markings continue through the intersection at Madison Ave, where right-turning cars must cross the bike lane, the conflict area could be improved with some higher visibility markings. Additionally, the design could benefit from locating the auto stop bar behind the bicycle stop bar (as opposed to in-line), allowing for people on bikes to be better seen. Finally, we also fear that the white paint on top of the light concrete pavement does not provide enough contrast to provide proper visibility for such a highly traveled area with complicated road markings.

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With that said, this is a significant development, not just for the City, but for PennDOT who is now looking toward alternate designs for state roads within the City, from the standard, traditional (read: car-centric) roads of the past. PennDOT actually owns many roads throughout the City, so this is a huge step in the right direction.

Take a virtual ride on the parking protected section of East Ohio St in the below video. Video was taken on a Tuesday afternoon, around 4:00pm.

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