A day after a bicyclist was struck and killed, an advocacy group said the push to make the area safer is not over.
The crash was reported around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday near where West Carson Street meets the West Busway. The bicyclist, Dennis Flanagan, 49, of McKees Rocks, died a few hours after the crash at Allegheny General Hospital.
Representatives of BikePGH said they have been pushing the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for five years to make the road safer, and BikePGH has been requesting that a bike lane be added.
The Pittsburgh mayor's office and Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith also had conversations with BikePGH and county officials. The group previously held community meetings with PennDOT, and bicyclist advocates said they were concerned about the safety of West Carson Street.
West Carson Street reopened a few weeks ago, but the new construction included only a sidewalk and not a bike lane.
Kail-Smith said she thinks the entire West End needs to be safer and said she will continue to press the state to do something about it.
“There have been several accidents, and you can read the reports on both, so we want to address that for the safety of both our motorists, bike riders, and we also have pedestrians. So we want to make sure it's safe for all,” Kail-Smith said.
PennDOT put up “Share the Road” signs during the three-year West Carson Street reconstruction. Channel 11 News asked PennDOT why bike lanes weren’t installed during the project, and PennDOT responded by sending a copy of a letter that it sent to BikePGH in January 2012.
PennDOT sent the letter to BikePGH after the advocacy group asked for a bike lane. PennDOT stated in the letter:
"We are willing to use other pavement markings if you or others suggest there is a safer alternative that can be accommodated with our current roadway template."
The letter from PennDOT to BikePGH did not mention why bike lanes were not considered. The letter said there was no record of bicycle or pedestrian accidents within that corridor at the time the letter was written in 2012.
Flanagan was described as a kind neighbor and a loving father who was trying to get healthy for his daughter’s graduation. His family said he doesn’t want anyone else to feel the pain they are feeling.
“I would personally never attempt to ride a bike in that area because … people are speeding down the road. They’re no paying attention, and now, a life is lost, so I strongly feel it needs to be reevaluated,” said his sister, Amy Lourenco.
His brother, Sean Flanagan, said Dennis Flanagan just recently started riding his bike everywhere. Dennis Flanagan would document his rides and wear bright yellow so drivers saw him. His family thinks he was on his way home to McKees Rocks on Tuesday when the crash happened.
Officials closed West Carson Street from the West End Circle to Corliss Street until around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday while police investigated the crash. Authorities told Channel 11 News that the driver of the pickup truck that hit Flanagan remained at the scene.
No further details were available about how the crash happened as of Wednesday afternoon.
Bicyclists plan to ride next Tuesday on West Carson Street in memory of Dennis Flanagan.
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