It's no secret—the United States has heavily overbuilt its transportation infrastructure for the car. However, as we've discussed many times here on TreeHugger, the country seems to have passed peak car and is now moving in the other direction. More and more Americans are choosing the healthier and greener option of bicycling, or are choosing to use public transit and either work or play while commuting—an increasingly popular option in the age of iPhones and iPads.
Furthermore, planners and policymakers who have realized that we went way too far in accommodating the car are now trying to make their cities and counties more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
Whether it's a case of growing demand or wanting to stimulate demand, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina, recently decided to transform some car infrastructure into bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
Pittsburgh Turns Car Shortcut into Scenic, Car-Free Road
Pittsburgh recently made a slick switcharoo by turning a cars-only road that went through a scenic park into a no-cars-allowed road. However, Bike Pittsburgh notes that it wasn't all about goodwill towards bicyclists and pedestrians:
In 2012 Pocusset Street was deemed structurally unsound for automobiles. After the road shift proposal received vocal community support at a number of public meetings, the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works decided to take the portion of Pocusset Street that passes through Schenley Park off-line for automobile traffic, and redesign it for bike and pedestrian use.
The city repaved the entire quarter mile Schenley Park portion of the street, repainted it with bi-directional bike-lanes, designated pedestrian walkways, included LED street lighting, and installed reflective bollards to block traffic from entering at either end. The new Pocusset Street is now open and maintained by the city as a pedestrian and bicycle-only roadway; shifting the road’s use from a dangerous shortcut to a community asset that will safely serve bikes and pedestrians for decades to come.
You can see Pocusset Street down in the bottom-right corner of this map:
Key Charleston Bridge Gets a Bike/Ped Lane
Charleston made a similar move recently. In Charleston, as you can see in the picture at the top of the page, the Legare Bridge is quite heavily used by bicyclists yet doesn't include any dedicated bicycle infrastructure. However, it will soon. Charleston City Council voted 8–5 late last month "to open one of the car lanes to biking and walking exclusively," Streetsblog USA reports. Here's' some context for why this is so important:
Central and downtown Charleston are on a peninsula, and the city and its suburbs sprawl over creeks, marches and rivers, so safe access to bridges is absolutely essential to navigating the city by bike.
Legare Bridge, which is part of State Highway 17, is one of the city's key commuter bridges.
And it didn't take too long to get this bike lane passed—bike advocates had only been pushing for it since the 1970s.
Snark aside, the key push within the past few years seems to have been the creation of Charleston Moves and its collection of 1,500 signatures in support of the facility.