Further improvements needed for Pittsburgh cyclists

Pittsburgh cyclist Colin Albright was the victim of a bizarre outburst of road rage. On Sept. 7, a driver — whom Albright speculates he may have accidentally cut off in traffic — followed him by car, chased him on foot, and then sliced and stabbed him with a small hunting knife.

While this is a particularly violent example of the tensions between cyclists and drivers, it’s far from being the only dangerous interaction that’s happened in Pittsburgh. This summer, two cyclists were killed and another was critically injured by motorists, all of whom drove away from the crime scenes.

Given that Pittsburgh has plenty of college students and a less-than-robust public transportation system, the cyclist population is bound to keep growing. But the number of accidents will only increase if Pittsburgh doesn’t find a way to accommodate those who get around by bicycle.

Safety concerns aren’t the only reason why Pittsburgh should become more bicycle-friendly. For years, the American Lung Association has identified Pittsburgh as one of the most air-polluted cities in the country. One of the easiest ways to decrease the amount of air emissions would be to incentivize people to ride bicycles rather than drive to their destinations, and having designated bike lanes would make people feel more comfortable about cycling.

There have been some positive steps in the right direction: There are an increasing number of streets in Pittsburgh with designated bike lanes, and Pittsburgh’s Climate Action Plan, which was published in February, includes several cycle-centric ideas on how to make Pittsburgh a more bike-friendly city, such as creating more sheltered bicycle storage areas.

Carnegie Mellon has also been working to improve conditions for cyclists — the 2012 Master Plan includes a proposal to create bicycle lanes in front of campus on Forbes Avenue.

We hope that the city and Carnegie Mellon make these initiatives a priority in order to prevent more deadly incidents.