Penn Avenue bike lanes. Photo courtesy of PeopleForBikes.

When the subject of new bike lanes comes up in Pittsburgh media, the inevitably furious response in the comments makes it seem like the city is mandating wearing Ravens jerseys on public property, or some similar sacrilege.

However, this may just be an especially vocal minority, or a phenomenon on the wane.

According to a new survey by Lake Research Partners, Pittsburgh voters overwhelmingly support safe alternatives to driving, and efforts to expand the city’s bike and pedestrian network (including designated bike lanes).

More than 7 out of 10 voters support dedicated space for biking and walking routes. They also want to see reduced speed limits and three out of four believe traffic injuries and fatalities are a major problem in Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh’s streets feel dangerous to many people using them, whether they’re driving, biking or walking,” says Kimberly Lucas, assistant director of the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. “It feels difficult to get around safely, so it’s more important than ever to support traffic calming measures, so everyone can get around Pittsburgh safer and easier.”

The research was commissioned by the national bike advocacy group PeopleForBikes, in partnership with the local nonprofit BikePGH. More than two-thirds of respondents support the city’s Bike(+) Master Plan — which aims to add 150 miles of bike infrastructure in the next decade — even if they had never heard of it until the survey.

New bike lanes in Downtown Pittsburgh. Photo courtesy of BikePGH.

“It’s clear there is an appetite among voters for providing safe alternatives to driving, including public transportation, biking and walking — especially as a way to help essential workers get to work and keep Pittsburgh’s economy strong,” says Daniel Gotoff of Lake Research Partners.

One-quarter of respondents report being injured in a traffic accident, and two-thirds say they know someone who has been injured.

“Pittsburghers share a concern for safety and believe that creating safe transportation options, including bicycling and public transit improvements, is good for the city’s businesses and workers,” says BikePGH Executive Director Scott Bricker.

Other poll results include:

• 75% of respondents agree that “Better transportation options like public buses and safe biking make Pittsburgh a desirable city to live and work.”
• 80% of respondents agree that “We must provide safe alternatives to driving, like public transportation, biking and walking to help essential workers get to work and keep our economy strong.”
• 71% of respondents agree that “Separated bike lanes create more safety and less stress for everyone on the roadways.”
• 70% of respondents agree that “Separated bike lanes for people riding bikes make the rules of the road clear and safe for everyone, including drivers.”
• 72% of respondents agree that “Better transportation options, like public buses and safe biking, make it easier to get to work on time.”
• 72% also agree that the pandemic has reinforced how important it is to have safe spaces to walk, bike and travel in the city.

Six hundred Pittsburgh residents took the survey by phone between March 8 and 15.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.