Safety crawl highlights hazards to walkers, bicyclists and vehicles

Work at Bellefield and Fifth


Staff Council’s annual safety crawl — a campus survey of potential safety issues — covered the four corners of campus on Oct. 1. Pitt Police officers accompanied staff members down to Panther Hollow, up around the Petersen Events Center, and along several central campus corridors. The aim was to identify hazards for walkers, bicyclists and vehicular traffic.

During the Panther Hollow portion of the tour, for instance, participants noted the cracked sidewalk with large gaps in front of the Frick Fine Arts Building; a need for more signs designating bike lanes around Schenley Plaza, to encourage their use by cyclists and avoidance by those on scooters and skateboards; a lack of lighting at the head of stairs leading from the back of Frick Fine Arts down to Joncaire Street, plus a fence only partly shielding access to the wooded hillside; and poorly marked crosswalks along Joncaire, including a lack of curb cuts in some spots.

One safety project long advocated by Staff Council is now seeing more progress: further improvements to the Fifth and Bellefield crosswalk and bus lane are underway in anticipation of increased traffic there beginning Nov. 1, when Bigelow Boulevard between Fifth and Forbes avenues is closed for a revamp.

The sidewalk at Fifth and Bellefield is being extended into the closest lane and all the way around the corner, apart from cuts down to street level for crossing pedestrians. The new concrete extension will accomplish several things:

  • It will push the Fifth Avenue bus lane leftward one lane, for about 80 feet prior to the corner, yet still allow those waiting for the bus to gather next to the bus doors.
  • It will allow pedestrians to have a shorter walk across Fifth Avenue.
  • It will allow buses to continue straight onto Fifth Avenue in front of Mellon Institute, rather than forcing them to shift left as they cross the intersection.
  • It will force Bellefield traffic out of the current leftmost lane at the intersection.

The latter move, said Ron Leibow, senior manager of planning and design in Facilities Management, will place the Bellefield traffic sitting beside Mellon Institute face to face with traffic opposite, which is also trying to enter Fifth Avenue.

Drivers in the former group, Bellefield waiting to turn left, have felt themselves on the inside track, psychologically speaking, and have been tempted to rush the turn, Leibow said. Now the situation at the crossroads will feel more even-handed, and left-turning drivers will be less tempted to jump into the intersection.

These improvements should be completed by Nov. 1, Leibow said, along with improvements to the bus stop at Tennyson and Fifth that also are aimed to ease congestion at the Fifth and Bellefield intersection.

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.


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