Some streets just shouldn’t have bike lanes, maybe

A friend of a friend wrote:

The only safe way for cars and bikes to share Friendship Ave is ONE AT A TIME. The bike lanes there give cyclists two choices: Either you use them, and subject yourself to hooks, buzzes, and doorings, or don’t use them, and subject yourself to harassment and hostility by vigilantes. It’s a lousy choice.

Bike lanes have been repainted on Friendship Avenue along Friendship Park.  The road is quite simply too narrow for a bike lane—it is physically impossible for a vehicle to pass a bike in that bike lane safely or legally, especially on the south (eastbound) side of the park.  They should never have been laid down in the first place, and every time they fade away and people start calling for them to be redone, I hope they’ll be allowed to disappear for good.

What should be done instead, then?  As a friend-of-a-friend wrote on Facebook, “Buildings and sidewalks are fixed in.”  

Buildings may be fixed, but sidewalks aren’t. Neither is the parking lane–the sidewalk could (but shouldn’t) be narrowed, and/or the parking removed. Or maybe we just need to slow and calm the street sufficiently that it can be shared—it is, after all, alongside a park, in a residential area, with primary streets only one long block to either side. Cut the speed limit to something compatible, perhaps add speed humps or curb bump outs….there are many ways to skin this frog that don’t involve encouraging people to ride and drive in a manner dangerous to others.

I think bike lanes in the abstract are a good idea. I think Friendship Park is a bad place for them, and that just about everyone would be better off if they were removed and the entire right-of-way redone.


Bike lanes were also repainted on Millvale Avenue alongside West Penn Hospital last night.  There was, of course, already a (non-emergency) hospital vehicle parked in it this morning.  sigh.  While I thank Highmark and their hospital network for their support for Pittsburgh bikeshare and biking in general, West Penn must do better.

(Of course, this afternoon comes ample evidence via Angie Schmitt and Bike Cleveland that it could be worse…)