Birmingham Bridge is getting bike lanes!

The Making of a Bike Lane

worker first to use lane

Cyclists using this popular commuting route, that connects the neighborhoods of the Southside, Oakland, the Hill, Uptown, and Downtown, will be in for a surprise when the Birmingham Bridge reopens. During it’s partial closure in PennDOT’s rehabilitation work, Bike Pittsburgh met with PennDOT officials to discuss bicycle improvements. We recommended to PennDOT that they install buffered bike lanes, try to calm traffic, create safe crossings across the interchanges, make the transitions to the connecting roads better, and create a debris buffer for the weekend’s broken beer bottles to collect. With these needs in mind, PennDOT District 11 sent out their engineers to see what they could do. PennDOT recognized the need for these improvements and soon incorporated them into the design.

Built in 1978 for a highway that never materialized, the bridge was overbuilt, sort of like a pair of pants that you never grow into. Since then, drivers have been treating this neighborhood bridge like a highway, usually far exceeding the 35 mph posted speed limit. Today, on September 26, they started striping the south bound side. The bike lanes look great with reflective paint creating a buffer on each side, one from cars, one from debris. This makes the bicycle travel area as wide as the car travel area. The photo to the right shows (from left to right): the car travel lane, a buffer, the bike lane, then another buffer for debris. For the interchange, where cyclists must cross oncoming traffic from the Forbes Ave ramp, you can see a worker putting down the stencils. The crossing will be painted bright blue, with stencils on the approach as well as alongside the crossing warning cars to watch for cyclists. There will also be warnings for cyclists to watch for cars, so we must still remain careful when approaching the crossing.


Stay tuned as we follow the progress on this exciting development.

To see more photos of the progress, or larger versions of these, click here. We’ll keep posting them as it unfolds.

This is one more piece of the puzzle of cycling improvements coming to Pittsburgh, but we can’t stop here. Now that the Bridge is showing it’s bike friendly colors, the next piece to work for is the connection from the Bridge to Craft Ave in Oakland, an area that’s been under fire recently. Click here to find out why.

P.S. Don’t forget to thank PennDOT District 11!

painted blue


  • jmac says:

    This is great news… congrats and thanks to Bike Pittsburgh and District 11!

  • courtney says:


  • caitlin says:

    o my god i havent ridden past there in so long im freaking out here at my desk

  • nathan says:

    That is incredible! Excellent work.

  • blake says:

    nicely done! i finally have a reason to cross the birmingham bridge!

  • amy says:

    Awesome! Tangible, visible changes! Great work!

  • nathan says:

    We went down and checked this out over the weekend – it is a truly impressive change and everyone who had something to do with this deserves a big round of applause – this is a full on, full scale approach!

    It also seems like a great launching point to get the changes made to 5th that you’ve been talking about, since they’re so close and would make so much sense to put together.

  • erok says:

    yeah, that was sort of the added benefit of this. it makes it painfully obvious that there is a major connection missing.

    i also have to say that it appears that cars from the forbes on ramp are approaching the bridge proper (and the bike crossing) much slower due to the added angle that they have to make. it’s not quite as smooth of a transition for them as it was before. i’m sure part of this is due to people getting used to the new traffic patterns, but i’m sure design plays a part as well.

  • mac says:

    I had a bike epiphany last night as I rode over the Birmingham Bridge coming from my workplace (Penn Av. & Graham) to meet family at a restaurant on the South Side. It felt great to roll all the way down 5th safely, speedily, and proudly. I knew I was headed for the new lanes on the Birmingham Bridge, and my expectations were exceeded by the great surface, clear, wide lines, and slower traffic. I had a big dumb smile on my face the whole span! I felt like waving my hands at everyone and shouting “hey look! I’m on a bike and we’re not in each other’s way!”

  • gimpPAC says:

    I haven’t used the lanes going into the South Side yet, but having the lane on the North-bound side really does help. Great job folks! It’s exciting to see hard work paying off.

  • […] at again, especially when there is money to make the changes. That’s how we were able to get bike lanes on the Birmingham Bridge, for […]

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