Better laws and better enforcement of current laws are urgently needed
We can make Pittsburgh a much safer place for people to bike and walk. Achieving safer streets for people traveling by bike and on foot (and by car) should be done through a variety of means including installing separated bike facilities, passing new laws at the state level, and better enforcement of our current traffic laws.
The City Paper’s Ryan Deto gives the full scoop on strategies for the getting safer streets we want and need, and some challenges we may face.
Susan Hicks was riding her bike Oct. 23 the exact way Pennsylvania law required her to: as if she were driving a car.
The 34-year-old University of Pittsburgh educator pulled her bike behind an SUV, just as she would have a car, and waited for a left-turn signal at a red light on Forbes Avenue, in Oakland. Another car then pulled behind her. When a third vehicle rammed into that car from behind, the chain reaction crushed Hicks between the car and the SUV. She was taken to the hospital but died of her wounds hours later. According to news reports, the driver who initiated the chain reaction, who was uninjured, did not appear to be drunk and did not flee the scene.
“[Hicks] was doing what everyone told her to do; she was not breaking any rule,” said Kevin Stiles, board president of the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation at an Oct. 29 vigil in Oakland. “Bikers do not present a life-threatening risk when they have a momentary lapse in concentration.”
Hicks’ story has rallied the community; every news outlet covered the aftermath, and Mayor Bill Peduto called for safer streets. But bike experts say Pittsburgh is still at least 10 years away from a more complete and safe bike infrastructure system citywide. How to keep the growing number of cyclists safe until then?
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