As PennDOT plans to rehabilitate the congestion-plagued Route 28 corridor for the benefit of motorists, Bike PGH wants to make sure the state doesn't create fresh nightmares for those traveling on two wheels.
Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike PGH, says the state's plan raises two main concerns for the group:
The first is that moving the train tracks along Route 28 could possibly eliminate the future extension of the North Shore Trail from 31st Street to 40th Street. The trail currently begins at Point State Park, and the group hopes the trail will eventually stretch past the 40th Street Bridge into Millvale.
The other concern is that Route 28 is still an obstacle for cyclists and pedestrians exiting the 40th Street Bridge. According to Bike PGH's Eric Boerer, the hillside on one side of Route 28 and the train tracks on the other side prevent construction of a wider -- and thus safer -- sidewalk to help with the exit.
"Our primary concern has always been that conditions for bicyclists are thought about during the design and planning stages of roadways," Bricker says.
Bike PGH members will have to wait and see how influential they are as the project's design process continues. But there is reason for optimism, Bricker says. In recent years, the concerns of bicyclists have actually changed PennDOT's plans, adding a pedestrian/bike path to West End Circle's re-design, for instance, although it has not yet been built.
"It used to be, we'd hear about these types of meetings through the grapevine and be lucky to get there early enough to make a difference," says Bricker. Today the group is invited to meetings by PennDOT. Concludes Bricker: "Things are definitely a lot better than they were in the 1980s and early '90s, when we were one of the worst cities for bicyclists."