In an ongoing effort to connect multiple bicycle trails and communities with one another, the plan for the Ohio River Trail has been completed.
Community leaders from around Allegheny County gathered at a Rite Aid store in McKees Rocks Thursday to outline the plan.
“This project is going to connect the City of Pittsburgh to McKees Rocks, along Route 51, along the McKees Rocks Bottoms, and finally connecting to the Montour Trail, which now has a spur to the airport,” said Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker.
The trail will include a local loop bike route that will take cyclists through the Shoppes at Chartiers Crossing, where the Rite Aid is located. That business has already begun preparation with the installation of a bike rack for customers outside the store.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the Ohio River Trail is important as more and more residents demand connected and safe bike trails.
“We want bike connectivity," Fitzgerald said. "We want to be able to use the bike trails, and it’s something at the county level, the county works department is committed to doing.”
Implementation of the plan is set to begin in late summer.
“It’s not just an easy thing to do,” Fitzgerald said. “It takes a lot of partners and working together, providing on-road alignments through McKees Rocks, Stowe, Coraopolis, Neville.”
Bricker said connecting communities and increasing trails and trail access will provide an economic boost.
He said the overall goal of the trails effort is simple: “Getting more people on bikes and having people understand just how important it is for our communities in terms of making them more vibrant and economically viable.”
“A study just came out of New York City where the tax receipts for businesses on streets with bike lanes are 50 percent higher than on streets without bike lanes,” Bricker added.
Partners in the trail effort include Friends of the Riverfront, the PA Environmental Council and the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation (CDC.)
“These western communities of Pittsburgh are Pittsburgh’s best kept secret," said McKees Rocks CDC Executive Director Taris Vrcek. "This trail will help us discover that. It literally puts us on the map – not only for an economic development and tourism perspective, but also connecting our communities. Many of us who bike have to go to other places to bike. Now we can do it right in our backyard.”
All involved parties will begin fundraising for the effort this summer, though some funding is coming from PennDOT, including some money for a bike lane along West Carson Street.