Encouraging safe, efficient travel for pedestrians
and cyclists is an important part of SPC's role as a regional transportation
agency. Bicycling and walking offer excellent commuter options that
support our overall mission to reduce traffic
congestion and improve air
quality. Communities that are pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly
are also livable, providing residents with opportunities
for recreation and community-enhancing economic development.
SPCs Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee addresses
issues of concern and pursues priority improvements of regional
significance. This committee is composed of representatives from
SPC-member counties, the City
of Pittsburgh, transit agencies, PENNDOT,
trail organizations, and advocates for pedestrians, bicyclists,
and persons with disabilities.
To maintain ongoing discussions with the pedestrian and bicycle community, SPC holds quarterly meetings of the its Pedestrian-Bicycle Advisory Committee to bring together regional planning partners, funding agencies, advocates and local representatives to discuss issues and opportunities in the non-motorized transportation sector. Topics of recent interest included PennDOT’s assessment of the rail corridor preservation process known as “railbanking” and the recent announcement of the rescission of several railbanked corridors, which will result in the elimination of existing hiking and biking trails in Armstrong and Centre Counties; information on the funding opportunity presented by the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program; and, the standardization and growth of the SPC bicycle counting program.
SPC’s transportation planners have undertaken a project to evaluate the cycling conditions of the regional state highway network. Based on the evaluation of a combination of traffic volumes, roadway geometry, and field observations, maps will periodically be created that can be
Did You Know?
People around the world recognize southwestern Pennsylvania as a model of trail development. In a few years, with the
completion of the Great Allegheny Passage and related trail
development, Pittsburgh will be the northern terminus of
a continuous, off-road trail extending from Pittsburgh to
used as a reference tool by cyclists and cycling commuters. The maps indicate the roadways as being above average, average or below average for cycling, as well as other features relevant to cyclists such as significant hills, trails, park-n-ride lots, and bicycle parking. These maps are intended to connect with and build out from the existing Bike-Pittsburgh Bike Map.
Note: The suitability ratings of the roadways apply to cyclists experienced in operating on the roadway network with other motorized vehicles. Inexperienced cyclists looking for facilities free of motorized vehicles should view the SPC bike trail maps.
The preliminary bicycle suitability maps are available for Allegheny County and Greene County. These maps were recently presented to the SPC Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee and are available here for review and comment by cycling stakeholders. Through this process the maps are available to everyone, however, please understand the maps are in their preliminary form and they will be evolving as we strive to improve them based on cyclist input. Periodically, as the project moves forward, new maps will be posted for review for the other counties within the region.
In 2013, SPC continued cooperative efforts with member governments and regional partners such as Bike Pittsburgh, the Airport Corridor Transportation Association, PennDOT and the SPC CommuteInfo Program in the promotion of safe bicycle commuting techniques and practices.
Several communities in the region requested assistance from SPC staff in the design and development of pedestrian, bicycle, ADA or active transportation programs in 2013. In accommodating these requests, SPC served on the Technical Advisory Committee for the Bike Route Signage Plan in the City of Pittsburgh; was represented on the steering committee for the City’s Transportation Plan (MovePittsburgh); and, has provided technical assistance to communities throughout the region on the advancement of local pedestrian and bicycle planning or ADA compliance concerns.
SPC continues to develop Bicycle Suitability Maps for member jurisdictions, and has completed five in draft form to date: Allegheny, Butler, Indiana, Greene and Westmoreland. These maps identify low volume, low speed roads that are conducive to safe bicycle use. These maps also identify local roadways that are less conducive to safe bicycle use due to roadway design, traffic volume or vehicle speed. These maps are developed using an array of inputs, including PennDOT
To promote bicycle and pedestrian safety in the region, SPC maintains the “Report a Road Hazard” and “Report a Missing Trail Link” features. These reporting features have been used to report numerous safety issues, including basic roadway maintenance needs such as pothole repairs, the need for removal of storm debris, and the location and nature of misaligned, missing or otherwise dangerous drain grates and scuppers. Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh and PennDOT have all used information gathered through these links to remedy potential safety hazards along local roadways.
To address problems of commuter access throughout the winter months, SPC worked with Friends of the Riverfront on the design, implementation and recruitment of a “shovel brigade,” which would provide the equipment needed to clear two major commuter trails of snow and ice in the winter months. In the winter of 2012-2013, the City of Pittsburgh added these trails to the snow removal/plow routes for clearance by city crews. The “shovel brigade” is still utilized to clear the trail until such time as the city crews are available, to clear the trails in non-plow events, and to monitor for icy conditions. Through this program, registered volunteers have access to the tools needed to provide day-to-day trail clearing activities, thereby promoting safe year-round, non-motorized commuting options in the City of Pittsburgh.
SPC holds quarterly meetings of its Pedestrian-Bicycle Advisory Committee to bring together regional planning partners, funding agencies, advocates and local representatives to discuss issues and opportunities in the non-motorized transportation sector.
Other efforts of note in 2013 include SPC’s active participation in the PennDOT “Rail Bank Reactivation Guidebook”, update of the PennDOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, and participation in the design and implementation of a Study of the Effectiveness of the PennDOT Pedestrian-Bicycle Checklist.
In 2013, SPC conducted peak hour bicycle activity counts at more than 50 locations throughout the City of Pittsburgh. Data obtained from these counts is used at the local level to prioritize pedestrian and bicycle improvements. SPC’s program of automated bicycle activity counts was substantially enhanced in 2013 with the design of an automated tube counting program for implementation on local trails. Using a combination of bicycle-specific tube counters (Eco Counters) and lightweight HPMS tubes, SPC is able to gather daily, weekly and monthly activity counts along the major trails in the region. In the summer of 2013, SPC piloted a cordon bicycle count in the City of Pittsburgh and counted the number of bicyclists that entered or left downtown during the morning rush hour (between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m.). Almost 900 bicyclists were counted during that morning count.
In the summer of 2013, SPC interns completed a sidewalk inventory in 34 of Allegheny County’s 130 municipalities. Additional communities are scheduled to be inventoried in 2014. Each community inventoried has received paper and electronic copies of the sidewalk inventory for their future use. Upon request, GIS shapefiles are also provided. Many communities have noted that the availability of this sidewalk inventory has furthered their efforts in ADA compliance assessment, public works scheduling and other municipal efforts.
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