Glen Osborne man pushes for Sewickley Valley bike path

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | 12:27 PM

Over three years later, one man’s crusade to persuade Sewickley Valley leaders to adopt a so-called complete streets initiative rolls on.

Glen Osborne resident John Orndorff has approached councils in nine communities since January 2016 to try to get them to coalesce for a common goal: create a bike trail that would connect from Coraopolis to Monaca and cross the Sewickley Bridge from Moon into Sewickley.

The “bike trail” would run along much of Beaver Street, which serves as the main local road through four communities. The problem with that, said Sewickley Borough Manager Kevin Flannery, is that the road is too narrow.

“That was deemed not safe,” Flannery said. “(Orndorff) wanted to have a biking trail to go through two lanes of traffic – and then you have cars parked. There’s no space.”

Orndorff’s latest attempt in April to persuade Edgeworth Council to adopt the route through its main local roads rendered safety concerns from council members.

“Council has given him the same answer all three times. We don’t like this route. We don’t think this route is safe. No amount of signage will make it more safe,” Schwend said.

Despite the seemingly staunch will of community officials, Orndorff is not discouraged, he said.

“This is not something I expected to happen overnight. So I’m not disappointed, I’m taking it as I can. Each year I try to decide where I should push most,” Orndorff said.

This year, he said, his focus has been to attract officials and community members to a traffic cycling course aimed at teaching cyclists the principals of “mindful cycling.”

The idea encompasses three main areas of street cycling: “empowerment to act as confident, equal road users; strategies for safe, stress-free integrated cycling; tools to read and problem solve any traffic situation or road configuration.”

The three-part course, Orndorff said, is an effort to shift a paradigm that motorists, and only motorists, belong on the road.

“More complete streets would be helpful for the health, the quality of life to encourage cycling,” Orndorff said. “There’s also economic benefits … if we can encourage cyclists to come through, those are future patrons.”

The complete streets initiative is nothing new. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto put out an executive order in April 2015 requiring transportation planners, engineers and other employees to think about all users of the public rights of way as they work on projects.

More than 1,300 complete street policies have been adopted across the country in 33 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., according to Smart Growth America — a coalition of advocacy groups focused on improving urban development.

Sewickley resident Tim Kelly supports the complete streets initiative and wishes local leaders would consider it.

“We are not vermin,” Kelly said, referring to cyclists. The resident has cycled since the mid-1980s. “Not one entity owns the road.”

Kelly said he enjoys riding his bike through Sewickley’s business district. He said signs that remind drivers and riders that bicycles belong on the road would be helpful.

“Everyone has to do what it takes to keep riding on the road safe,” he said. The Ohio River Trail Council’s proposed 41-mile trail would pass through 26 communities along the Ohio River to the Ohio-Pennsylvania border in Beaver County.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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