On Penn Avenue. Photo by Tracy Certo

It’s official. Pittsburgh cyclists, whether dressed in business casual or Lycra-clad, are using the protected bike lanes on Penn Avenue.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership announced today that data from three automatic rubber bike counters stretched across the 600, 900 and 1200 blocks of Penn Ave. registered more than 24,000 trips in May.

“With business, residential and retail life booming in Downtown Pittsburgh, we are seeing increases in every type of commuter, including those on bikes. The lanes on Penn Avenue are successful because they provide safety and convenience for all,” Mayor William Peduto says.

Weekdays typically saw about 740 bike trips in the lanes, with heaviest travel occurring during the morning and evening rush.

Numbers rose to about 875 trips on the weekends, but the difference is in part attributed to big events, like Marathon Sunday and OpenStreetsPGH that took place on May 31st.

“We’ve been looking forward to collecting and reviewing the data as there has been a lot of interest regarding the lanes’ utility,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

And the bike lanes were by no means empty during some of those March-like May days. On a rainy May 21 when temps peaked in the upper 40s, wheels tripped the monitors 467 times.

“We were pleasantly surprised to see the usage, particularly given that weather was relatively uneven throughout the month of May. We also anticipate that with an increase in temperatures, these numbers should continue to rise,” says Leigh White, VP of marketing and communications for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

The Healthy Ride bike share system, launched on May 31, will also boost the lanes’ popularity, says Waldrup.

A cyclist shares the road on Penn Ave. Photo by Renee Rosensteel
A cyclist shares the road on Penn Ave. Photo by Renee Rosensteel.

The protected lanes were installed last summer to make Pittsburgh safer and friendlier for both cyclists and drivers.

“Initially there was some hesitation among motorists, however with the lanes being in place for several months now, it seems as though motorists have adapted quite easily,” says White.

Laurie Bailey

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.