PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A bicyclist has died after being struck by a vehicle in the West End Tuesday afternoon.
The crash happened on a busy stretch of West Carson Street just before the evening rush hour, and now, the accident is raising questions about the safety of that stretch of road.
The accident happened at the crosswalk near the busway.
City police are still investigating and not talking about who was at fault. But there are questions about the road and how fast people are driving on the brand new concrete.
Bicyclists sharing the narrow streets of Pittsburgh with other vehicles is always a tenuous relationship. Accented by this latest accident in which 49-year-old Dennis Flanagan died from critical injuries at Allegheny General Hospital.
Officials say he suffered blunt and crush injuries to his head, chest and extremities.
“I’m pretty emotional about it,” said Scott Bricker, of Bike Pittsburgh. “I just feel like it could be me or my family or any of my friends.”
Bricker says Bike Pittsburgh and the city lobbied hard for bike lanes when West Carson Street was reconstructed.
“I think he was doing the best he could with what he was given, which is a terrible, terrible design,” Bricker said.
That point was echoed today by Mayor Bill Peduto.
“I still feel that was a solvable issue that we could have had the road done a little bit wider,” the mayor said.
But PennDOT’s District 11 Executive Dan Cessna says wider wasn’t possible.
“We’re against the railroad where there is no additional space; we’re against the hillside in the other direction with that limited amount of pavement space, we were able to do a shared lane,” Cessna said.
By reconfiguring the lanes and creating a center buffer zone, the redesign was created to reduce rear-end and side-swipe accidents that were common on that stretch, and left room for 14-foot lanes, two feet wider than a 12-foot interstate highway lane.
“With the shoulder width, or the size of the lane and shoulder together, you have a safe distance there for a shared lane,” Cessna added.
The road is also marked with “Share the Road” signs, letting drivers know the lanes are also for bikes.
But Bricker says the wider lanes encourage speeding in the 35 mile per hour zone.