Park Road Restriping
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Prepared by John Buerkle, Pashek Associates, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Throughout the 1990s, Lakeshore Drive, a park access road in North Park, experienced increasing volumes of motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. In the 1980's, the open section, two-way road was striped with a 5 ft bicycle lane on one side. Absent proper enforcement, over time this sub-standard bicycle accommodation became overrun with two-way bicycle and pedestrian traffic, creating conflicts and confusion for all road users.
Striping of three travelways—center lane for one-way vehicle flow, a parallel flow bicycle lane on the right, and a contra-flow bicycle lane on the left.
Pedestrian and bicycle safety concerns were first identified in the Allegheny County Parks system in the late 1980s. In response to those concerns, the County completed a Trail Improvement Feasibility Study in 1990. However, the recommendations of the study were never implemented.
In the spring of 2001 a collision occurred in another county park, South Park, which killed three pedestrians, the driver of an errant car, and a passenger in the vehicle. This collision brought the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists to the forefront in Allegheny County. As a result, the County revived its commitment to increasing the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists in each of the county parks.
Specific safety concerns for North Park included the following:
- Wrong way bicycle riding and the use of vehicular lanes by bicyclists due to congestion in the designated bicycle lane.
- Bicycle and pedestrian conflicts in the designated bicycle lane.
- The presence of only one bicycle lane on a two-way road.
- The presence of dangerous intersection crossings.
Bicycle lanes are marked with words and symbols as shown to indicate proper travel direction. Photo by Nikki Kahn at The Washington Post.
Recommendations in the 2001 Master Plan for North Park were built upon the concerns raised in the 1990 plan. To reduce conflict, the County designed and built separate facilities for each travel mode. Bicycle lanes were provided on each side of Lakeshore Drive, giving cyclists the opportunity to travel with the direction of motor vehicle traffic (a requirement of the Motor Vehicle Code). In addition, a 5 ft pedestrian pathway for walkers and joggers was located adjacent to the bicycle lane on the right hand side of the road.
Where space was limited and traffic patterns permitted, the roadway was designated as one-way, allowing continuation of all three travelways for the bicyclists and pedestrians. In this case, a bicycle lane with an adjacent pedestrian path was striped on the right side of the road and a contra-flow bicycle lane was striped on the left side of the road.
Informational signs educate patrons about traffic safety in the park.
Lane widths were also adjusted. To free up space to accommodate wider bicycle lanes and pedestrian pathways, the width of the vehicular lane was reduced to 10 ft. In order to ensure that the width of the bicycle and pedestrian lanes were able to accommodate changes in peak demand, the master plan recommended taking regular peak period pedestrian and bicycle counts.
Finally, signs and markings were added to designate the respective corridors created for each mode and to educate travelers on proper use of the facility. This was accomplished through painting traditional traffic markings on the pavement as well as posting rules and regulations that establish what is expected of each trail user.
Approximately 1 mi of striped pedestrian and bicycle lanes on Lakeshore Drive were installed in the summer of 2001 for a total cost of approximately $150,000 (for planning, design and construction). The project was designed and implemented in-house, by the Allegheny County Department of Public Works. Similar improvements were made later in South Park.
Field observations made in August 2001 indicated the improvements were successful. Mode separation, wider bicycle and pedestrian lanes, and better signage have made the North Park roadway safer and more comfortable for pedestrians. Not only have the changes resulted in reducing the conflicts between the various non-motorized modes, but the implementation of the recommendations has also resulted in calming traffic in the adjacent vehicle lanes and has made drivers more aware of the other transportation modes operating within the roadway corridor. Response from the public has been very positive.
John O. Buerkle, Jr., RLA, AICP
619 East Ohio Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Phone: (412) 321-6362