Bicyclists Call For More Biker-Friendly Streets After West End Fatal Accident

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A couple of hundred bicyclists advocating for safer and more bike lanes on city streets gathered on the South Side Tuesday night.

They brought a white “ghost bike” in memory of a local cyclist who lost his life in a highway crash.

This latest plea for additional and safer allocated street space for bicyclists comes after last week’s death of 49-year-old bicyclist Dennis Flanagan of McKees Rocks. He was killed in a wreck on West Carson Street near the West Busway.

The street had just reopened to traffic a few days earlier following a lengthy closure, and a $40 million facelift.

Scott Bricker, who heads an advocacy group called BikePittsburgh, said, “We’re here to ride for Dennis and his family tonight and call on PennDOT to fix that road, make it better, make it more bike-friendly.”

Speaking to the group before the bike ride to McKees Rocks and back, Flanagan’s brother, Sean, said, “I heard on the radio the other day our mayor said BikePittsburgh was too aggressive, too aggressive in saving lives. My message to the group is continue to be too aggressive.”

Flanagan told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “Dennis just loved to ride his bike. It was a gift from his girlfriend. He really enjoyed it. He’s loved bikes since he was a little kid, and that’s what we did when we were kids.”

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With a police escort, cyclists rode from the South Side and past the scene of last week’s accident.

In a recent interview, a PennDOT official answered critics about the lack of a separate bike lane on West Carson Street, saying space there was limited.

Dan Cessna, PennDOT’s District 11 executive, said, “We’re against the railroad where there is no room, and the hillside in the other direction. With that limited space, we were able to do a shared lane [for both bikes and cars].”

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One Comment

  1. Bo Shekerko says:

    if their riding bikes on the same roads as cars they should have to pay everything car drivers do,,insurance,registration,plates

  2. Hey I do. I also drive sometimes. Maybe 90% of people who bike on city streets already have licenses and cars. Do you really think the amount the state would get from the tiny fraction of a percent of bike commuters who don’t already have cars would do anything more than be an administrative pain? I could turn around and ask why don’t we ever retest people for their driver’s license? Laws change and it seems to me there’s a great deal of ignorance by drivers on how they should pass cyclists on the road. And before you talk about all of the scofflaw cyclists you’ve seen, the same could be said of drivers. We both break laws at about the same rates if you are paying attention because we are all human.

    This whole line of reasoning is smoke and mirrors though, why don’t we address the inherent safety issues that are at stake? That stretch is too fast, because the lanes are too wide (14′) and more appropriate for interstate roadways (no room my arse). PennDOT was given many suggestions for how to give that road a safety treatment (for peds and bikes AND cars), but chose to ignore them, went late on the reopening and overbudget, with no bike infrastructure and lackluster pedestrian infrastructure. PennDOT is way too focused on their “Level of Service” metric and not enough on modern, multimodal, safe roadway infrastructure that is appropriate for urban areas. We can and need to do better and many of us are tired of our friends getting hurt and killed because we don’t have the political willpower to make safety a top priority. This is for the cars too, we shouldn’t have to accept the high number of deaths on our highways as an inevitable risk, we must do better.

  3. Cessna says there’s no room, but this assumes 14 ft lanes for cars. There is not convincing evidence that 14 ft lanes are needed on this stretch of road.

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