By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Driving down Penn Avenue through Point Breeze can be a harrowing experience.

“There’s speeding, there weaving, people treat it like a racetrack,” said Scott Bricker with BikePGH.

With tragic consequences — two bicyclists have been killed there in the past year and half — and now bike advocates want to see major changes to a roadway they find hazardous.

“Two bicycle fatalities, but there’s been hundreds and hundreds of accidents over the past decade along this stretch,” said Bricker said.

And they’ve found a receptive ear at the city planning department –which says that Penn Avenue should be for all forms of human traffic — not just cars.

“The viewpoint that I’ve had is the roadway should work for the most people, i.e. a mixture of cars, bicycle, pedestrians and transit riders,” said Patrick Roberts with Pittsburgh City Planning.

Planning and a task force called MOVEPGH is developing an integrated traffic program for the city and as part of that will propose a pilot program to reduce this stretch of Penn Avenue from the Wilkinsburg to Fifth Avenue from four to two lanes with a turning lane at the intersections.

That would leave room for bike lanes on both sides — but there’s a disagreement about the impact on vehicular traffic.

“It’s of our opinion that the roadway would move just as quickly as it would today if not better with that three way configuration,” Roberts said.

It would create a bottleneck.

Penn avenue is actually a state roadway — maintained by PennDOT — which believes that reducing lanes is a recipe for congestion.

“I think the department would be willing to sit down and talk to the city about anything,” said Steve Cowen with PennDOT. “However with thousands of vehicles going through there on a daily basis it would be very difficult to reduce it to two lanes.”

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