Introducing the newest bike lanes (and bike lane symbol person) in Pittsburgh: Forbes Ave in Squirrel Hill
An important piece of a clearly marked city-wide bicycle network, that BikePGH is actively advocating for, was marked late last week. This was a remarkable feat considering it was installed on the first day of the G-20 Summit. Forbes Avenue, one of the major roads in the City, received bicycle-friendly treatments from Margaret Morrison (just east of CMU) to Murdoch, with the plan to continue the markings to the new soon-to-be bike lanes through Frick Park and on up to S. Braddock Ave. The 2.3 mile stretch, when complete, will be a combination of bike lanes (whenever the street is wide enough) and shared lane markings, or “sharrows,” when the road narrows, or is a steep downhill.
Forbes Ave, itself a popular cycling route, also connects to some existing bike lanes, adding an integral “backbone” to the network. The Forbes markings will connect to the recently striped bike lanes on Beacon and Wightman, as well as the popular Schenley Drive and the age old Beechwood Blvd Bike lanes. Note: As of publishing, Beechwood Blvd was just re-paved and is lacking bike lanes, however updated bike lanes are set to be striped.
Bird’s eye view of the emerging bike network in Squirrel Hill. Blue is where the new Forbes Ave lanes/sharrows are, green represents the existing bike lanes on Schenley Dr, Beacon St, Wightman St, and Beechwood Blvd.
Another new feature on this section of Forbes Ave are the large curb bump outs that effectively increase the sidewalk area. The idea behind these, aside from giving pedestrians a bit more room, is to narrow the roadway and add some texture to the environment in order to calm traffic and slow cars down. Speeding traffic through this area is a major concern for residents and visitors to this thriving neighborhood, so the combination of bike lanes and bump outs help mitigate this issue. A few on-street spaces near Margaret Morrison were removed to help facilitate the new setup as well. According to the City, since most of these residents have driveways, the space allotted for on-street parking along Forbes Ave was underutilized, so cars tended to take advantage of the wide berth and speed up and down the hill. The curb bump outs do extend pretty far into Forbes Ave, so cyclists should be aware and follow the path of the sharrows to make sure to avoid the curbs. Drivers need to be aware that cyclists will be “taking the lane,” and give them the proper respect to maintain safety. As this is on the steep downhill, even a cyclist that is coasting should have no problem doing the posted 25 mph speed limit, so please be patient.
An example of the new curb bump outs and sharrows on the downhill section of Forbes Ave, Squirrel Hill
Another problematic spot that the City has addressed is the intersection of Forbes Ave and Schenley Dr. Schenley Dr is a popular cycling route through the park, over to Flagstaff Hill and the Carnegie Library and Museum Area of Oakland. Downhill (inbound) on Forbes still has the slightly awkward “Stop (except right turn)” onto Schenley Dr. However, uphill there is the added feature of the bike lane to keep the width of the car travel lane consistent as well as guide cyclists through the bend and intersection.
View of the bike lane through the curve and awkward intersection of Schenley Dr
We would like to thank Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and the Bike/Ped Coordinator and the Urban Cycling Committee team, as well as the outgoing public works director Guy Costa for helping make this happen.
You should too!! Call or email 311 and thank them for this development as well as encouraging them to continue with future bicycle-friendly developments.
Not a member of Bike Pittsburgh? Join today! We need you to add your voice! Bike Pittsburgh works to protect cyclist’s rights and promote the vision of making Pittsburgh a safer and more enjoyable place to live and to ride. For more info, check out: www.bike-pgh.org/membership