Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bike Lanes on Two County Bridges a Bad Idea

Earlier this month, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that two County-owned bridges -- the 6th Street Clemente Bridge and the Phillip Murray South 10th to the South Side -- would have bike lanes installed in each direction on them.  The lanes would be 5 foot wide with a 3 foot buffer between vehicular traffic.  In theory, this is a great idea.

In reality, it's awful.  These bike lanes, one in each direction, will take away one lane of vehicular traffic as well.  So each bridge will be turned into a one-lane bridge in each direction. What this will do is cripple the ability of these bridges to do their primary function of moving vehicular traffic during peak periods.

As much as bike advocates would like you to believe that cars and bikes are equally important, they are not.  Roads and bridges are primarily for motor vehicles.  Their secondary function is for bikes and pedestrians.  The two can co-exist, but it's not an equal partnership.

Roads are like the human body's blood vessel system.  Certain roads are arteries and veins and have to push a lot of blood through; certain roads and bridges are the same and have to push a lot of vehicles through.  If there is a blockage or bottleneck, neither system will work and will eventually fail.

There is a big push to make Pittsburgh more bike-friendly and these bridges are part of that expanded network.  That's great, but it can't come at the expense of vehicles.  I predict that the Clemente Bridge experiment will fail and will be quietly modified in a few years.

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