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July 26, 2007

Pedestrian & bicyclist forums planned

Those who travel Oakland on two feet or two wheels have two opportunities to offer their 2 cents’ worth to city officials in August.

An Oakland bicycle planning meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at Pitt’s Scaife Conference Center, Room 1105 AB, 3550 Terrace Street; and for those who may have missed an earlier public meeting in Oakland on pedestrian safety, another is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Brashear Association, 2005 Sarah Street, on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Richard Meritzer, a senior planner in Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning, said the cyclist meeting will focus on a discussion of the results of two recent bicycle-related studies that have proposed suggestions for making Oakland more bike-friendly, and on the issue of bicycle parking throughout Pittsburgh. Input also is being sought for a bicycle planning ordinance being drafted as part of the city’s zoning code.

The Oakland meeting follows closely on the heels of a similar session held July 25 in Bloomfield, where shared lane pavement markings recently were added to encourage bike riders.

Because of the numbers of cyclists in the two neighborhoods, Meritzer said the city is particularly interested in their input. “We want to consider concerns from those neighborhoods,” he said, although he cautioned that the hour-long meeting is not intended to be a general discussion on biking.

The Oakland meeting will focus on the Oakland Bicycle Mobility Study, done by students from Cornell University in conjunction with city planners, and on the Atwood Project, prepared by architecture and urban design firm Strada for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Oakland Business Improvement District.

The two plans examine ways to make Oakland more bike-friendly and suggest the addition of bicycle lanes, bike racks and other improvements to aid cyclists.

The meeting will wrap up with information on the new bicycle parking policy and the status of Pittsburgh’s bicycle ordinance draft.

The Pittsburgh planning department’s bicycle plan intern Nicole Mullen drafted the bike parking policy, which has been endorsed by the mayor. The policy clarifies that state law allows bicycles to be parked on sidewalks as long as they do not block pedestrian or other traffic. However, private property owners have the right to remove bikes that are chained to their property, such as flagpoles or gates.

The Aug. 15 pedestrian safety meeting is one of a series seeking input on a pedestrian plan that will be a companion to the bicycle plan. The first in the series, held in Oakland last winter, drew more than 60 people, Meritzer said.

Planners are seeking input on making pedestrian travel safer throughout the city. The considerations, among others, may include possible changes to crosswalks, bus stops, lighting and the availability of public telephones.

Interns have been instrumental in developing the pedestrian and bicycle plans, he said.

Meritzer said he welcomes comments, questions and concerns on the plans. He can be reached at 412/255-2102 or via email at Mullen can be reached at

Meritzer said it is hoped that public information sessions will take place on a quarterly basis as additional work is completed.

In addition to the cyclist and pedestrian meetings, the mayor has planned forums in various city neighborhoods. One covering Oakland, the Hill District and Uptown is to be held in December.

Meritzer is urging cyclists not only to attend the bike-specific sessions, but to offer their input as residents at the neighborhood forums as well.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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