URA Proposes City’s First Protected Intersections

Penn Circle Two-Way Conversion: From a speedway to a neighborhood street

On August 8, the Urban Redevelopment Authority hosted a public meeting about their Penn Circle Two Way Conversation project. This plan is an attempt to reverse the car-centric design of the urban renewal era. They plan to build neighborhood-focused streets that not only allow traffic to travel both directions, but also add protected bike lanes and improve intersection safety with an installation of the City’s first protected intersections. The plan’s long-awaited, two-way traffic conversion also provides new options for automobile drivers, and should help relieve traffic congestion on parallel streets.

The project is the result of a neighborhood community plan to repair the broken street grid and focus on the pedestrian, cycling, transit, and driving experiences throughout the area. It will roll out in three phases starting with Harvard/Beatty, then Euclid/Station, and finally Euclid/Baum.

The proposed improvements include:

  • A two-way conversion of traffic from the ultra-wide four lane, one-way design seen today
  • 3 protected intersections for bicyclists
  • 6,000+ square feet of green space
  • Protected bike lanes on over half of the streets, and bike lanes on 100% of the design
  • 10 additional parking spaces
  • 34 striped crosswalks
  • Removal of all slip ramps, which are not appropriate for an urban setting

These proposed improvements will offer a level of protection for the most vulnerable users of the road while giving vehicles clear paths for their movements. Additionally, the protected intersections are the first of their kind in Pittsburgh and help keep bicyclists safe where they need it the most – at intersections. Developed in the Netherlands (the first US installation was in Salt Lake City, 2015), they provide a way for people on bikes to make left turns without leaving the bike lane, reduce the crossing distance, and conflicts at intersections.

Another interesting feature of the URA’s design is at the intersection of Euclid, Baum, and Friendship where they plan to legitimize the popular Friendship bicycle cut-through and install a legal contra-flow bike lane on Friendship Ave to Baum Blvd. At the intersection, there will be radar detection to trigger the traffic signal and allow people on bikes with an exclusive phase to continue. The intersection will remain the same as it is today for drivers. Additionally, Euclid Ave, between Centre and Baum, will also be converted to two-way traffic, with bike lanes.

The URA, City, and PennDOT are in the final planning phases for this project and hope to break ground in early 2019.

What’s the deal with protected intersections?

Watch this video above for a great explanation of protected intersections! Their innovative design offers physical protection and guidance where all road users need it the most: at intersections.

If installed, it will be the first intersection of its kind in the City of Pittsburgh, as well as in the eastern region of the country. At the intersections, they put bicyclists and pedestrians in a more visible, direct and safe location for drivers to see them

These intersections help bicyclists navigate left turns while remaining in the bike lanes. They also reduce the crossing distances and exposure for pedestrians.

These have been used for years in such places as Amsterdam, but are new to the United States, placing Pittsburgh in a small class of innovative US cities.

A breakdown of the proposed Protected Intersections

Click here to see the URA’s full presentation.

Note: The purple islands represent concrete barriers to separate pedestrians and cyclists from motorized traffic. Green represents possible green space.

Click the image to enlarge.

Station Street at Highland Ave

Station Street at Euclid Ave and Rural Street

Euclid Ave and Penn Ave

Euclid Ave at Baum Blvd and Friendship Ave

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