Friday, August 3, 2012

In enforcing cyclists' safety, officer injured on Penn Avenue - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

While trying to protect the safety of another sort of cyclist Thursday night, a Pittsburgh motorcycle officer was struck by an SUV.

Sgt. Jim LeVier said the officer, whose name he declined to release, was one of several assigned to enforce bicycle safety along Penn Avenue, where two bicyclists were fatally struck by cars in one week.

The increased safety measures came as city officials and bicycle advocates urged cyclists to consider using alternate routes and while police warned motorists to slow down in a stretch of road where neighbors say they constantly speed.

Sgt. LeVier said the officer was riding near Penn Avenue and North Lexington Street when a man driving a light brown GMC Envoy turned in front of him, striking him and knocking over the Harley-Davidson motorcycle he was riding.

The accident happened two blocks away from the intersection with Penfield Place, where 46-year-old James Price, of Homewood, was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver on July 25.

About three blocks away from that, just across the city border, 47-year-old Anthony Green, of Wilkinsburg, was hit by an SUV while riding his bicycle shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday night. Mr. Green died in UPMC Presbyterian six hours later.

A law passed in April requires drivers to pass a bike with a minimum of four feet of clearance space, bars them from making turns that cut off bicyclists who are going straight and requires cyclists to use the right-hand lane or stay as close to the right shoulder as conditions permit.

A handful of Pittsburgh police officers were working to enforce those rules Thursday night before a 15-day festival sponsored by advocacy group BikePGH kicks off on Sunday.

Sgt. LeVier said the Pittsburgh officer struck Thursday was speaking when medics transported him to UPMC Mercy for an evaluation, and the sergeant said the officer did not have many obvious injuries.

The driver of the SUV and his passenger were not harmed either, the sergeant said. The two sat in the front of the SUV for more than an hour Thursday night while they waited for members of the city police accident investigation unit to gather evidence and possibly interview them.

Meanwhile, a team of officers from the Zone 4 station waved through traffic and called at passing motorists to "slow down."

The collision happened one day after Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and BikePGH executive director Scott Bricker issued a joint statement saying that bicyclists could also use side roads, such as Meade Street in Point Breeze, if they want to travel on roads with less traffic.

Their main message, though, was a plea for cyclists and drivers to be "lawful, cautious and respectful of one another."

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