City to allow bikes in Downtown bus lanes, add contraflow bike lane to 3rd Ave

New options for downtown bicycle transport

The City’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure will soon begin construction on new downtown bike lanes and improvements. The new bike lanes are intended to help connect the Eliza Furnace Trail to the Point, and facilitate a crosstown north-south connection, using available streets.

The new bike lanes will provide a clear street-level connection between the Point and the Great Allegheny Passage/Eliza Furnace Trail, the car-free trail to Washington DC. This will not only provide bike commuters with a safe option to get to their job, but also provide visitors with a safer option to visit local businesses and destinations.

The Eliza Furnace Trail and the Smithfield St Bridge are both major pipelines for bike commuters entering and leaving Downtown from the East End and the South Side, respectively. The two pipelines converge at the intersection of Smithfield St and Ft Pitt Blvd, where people on bikes must use busy downtown streets. While the Smithfield St Bridge will soon have a switchback down to the Mon Wharf Trail, it’s still not officially connected to the Point, and does not access the businesses and amenities where people work and shop.

The new bike lanes will allow people on bikes to travel in both directions on 3rd Ave, between Smithfield St and Stanwix St. The 3rd Ave bike facility will include a westbound “shared lane” paired with an eastbound protected contraflow bike lane.

Smithfield and Wood Bus Lanes to allow bicycles

To facilitate north-south travel within Downtown, the City and Port Authority will allow people on bikes to use the bus lanes on both Smithfield and Wood Streets, making them bus-bike-only lanes.

  • On Smithfield, bikes can use the new bus-bike-only lane to travel southbound, helping create a connection to the Smithfield St Bridge and Eliza Furnace Trail.
  • On Wood St, bicyclists will be able to travel in the new bus-bike-only lane northbound, connecting to the new facility on 3rd Ave.
  • Additionally, a new bus-bike-only lane will be installed on Fort Pitt Boulevard from Smithfield to Wood Street.

The shared bus-bike-only lane will give people on bikes more direct travel options, limiting the need to go blocks out of their way to reach their destination. Bicyclists are still prohibited from using the other bus-only lane along Fifth Ave in Uptown and Oakland.

IMPORTANT instructions

When traveling in the new bus-bike-only lanes, bicyclists are expected to:

  • Travel in the same direction as the buses
  • Never pass a bus (due to oncoming car traffic)

Motorists using Smithfield St and Wood St should be aware that, in addition to buses, people on bikes will be coming toward them.

Going in the same direction of car traffic on both Smithfield and Wood, bicyclists are permitted and expected to travel as they currently do, in the shared lane with cars, and not in the bus-bike-only lane.

Additionally, a new bus-bike-only lane will be installed on Fort Pitt Boulevard from Smithfield to Wood Street. This phase I of the installation will be completed by mid-October 2018.

Scooters and motorcycles are still prohibited from using the bus-bike-only lane.

Expect Phase II in 2019

Phase II of the project will include a dedicated bike facility on Stanwix Street, Penn Avenue Extension, and Liberty Ave, effectively connecting the phase I work to the existing Penn Avenue bicycle lanes and to Point State Park.

Sponsorship for the project is provided by the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

If you have any questions regarding this project, please contact Katy Sawyer, Project Manager for the Traffic Division at 412-255-8122.

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  • Excellent negotiating, wonderful progress. Thank you. Next, open the Wabash Tunnel to bikes, please?

  • checorun says:

    The new bike lanes/shared bus lanes have been helpful with my work commute, so I thank you for the efforts and the modifications. However, I have some public safety issues to address & was wondering if I could get some help directing them to the right person(s):

    Since these changes were established in September, a number of bus drivers have made it clear they either don’t know about it or simply don’t care. I have been beeped at and yelled at on numerous occasions by bus drivers despite doing nothing wrong. It’s also a huge public safety concern; if drivers aren’t aware of these new lane designations or refuse to share their lanes, it’s only a matter of time before a biker gets hit. I will not feel safe and likely will not stop bringing this issue up in public forums until I am confident that drivers that have downtown routes have been informed // have new maps on their buses outlining which lanes have been updated, which quite frankly is alarming that it evidently didn’t happen at the initial rollout of the new lanes. Thank you.

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