Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Pittsburgh Officially marked its designation as a bronze-rated League of American Bicyclists “bike friendly city” Wednesday by mounting the official sign on Grant Street at First Avenue. The designation came in May but with little fanfare until this week. Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker says when he returned to the city more than a decade ago from San Francisco he found a city that had a very small biking community and very few safe biking opportunities. He says the city has come a long way in a very short period of time, “New bike lanes, bike racks, the first bike map of Pittsburgh in 15 years, a full time bike/ped coordinator.” However Bricker says there is still a long way to go including a need to better educate the general public and bikers on how to share the road. The designation lasts for four years and League of American Bicyclists, Bike Friendly America Program Director Bill Nesper says he thinks the city can move up to the gold level with its next application. He agrees that there needs to be more education and outreach efforts and he says the city needs to expand its on-road bike lane system to link up with its growing trail system. He says the city should be proud of its bronze status, “Over the last six years we have received more than 350 applications from around the country. And right now you have joined the ranks of only 140 recognized bicycle friendly communities around the country and very few on this side of the country.” Nesper says part of the reason why the east may lag the west when it comes to the number of bike friendly communities, could be older infrastructure I eastern cities but it is more likely a difference in mindset. The posting of the sign comes at a time when cyclists have come under physical attack in the city’s east end including one victim who was sent to the hospital. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says the police department is “very aggressively” looking into the attacks. He says there seems to be no pattern. He tells riders to bike with friends when possible and to be aware of their surroundings. He says it looks like the attackers are “picking their spots” and making their attacks. He says police need bicyclists to report anything they see to help with the investigation.