Right Lane of Squirrel Hill Tunnel Inbound to Become Bike Lane

Cyclists will have a faster, safer route from Edgewood/Swissvale to Sq. Hill, Greenfield and Oakland. New bicycle-only ramp will be added from Forward Ave to tunnel entrance.

by Lindsay Patross
April 1, 2019

Starting in June, the right lane of the inbound side of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel will become a dedicated bike lane. Due to the increase in bicycle commuters and interest in bike safety, PennDOT will begin a project to convert one lane of the Squirrel Hill tunnel into a two-way bike lane. Cyclists will be able to access the lane via the existing Regent Square ramp and will continue through the tunnel. The bike lane will then continue along 376 East in-bound and will exit the tunnel via a new bike ramp from the parkway to Forward Avenue in Squirrel Hill.

The Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure announced the new plan over the weekend at the Inclusive Innovation Summit. The Squirrel Hill Tunnel bike lane is part of the city’s larger goal to make the roadways more accessible to cyclists. The City of Pittsburgh has worked closely with PennDOT to make this improved bike route a reality.

Squirrel Hill Tunnel Bike Lane
Current bicycle route options from Edgewood to Schenley Park.

Currently, there is not a safe way for cyclists and pedestrians to quickly and safely get from the Edgewood side of the tunnel to Squirrel Hill and Oakland. The head of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure explained that after several studies, “it became clear the best way to connect these two neighborhoods was through the tunnel.”

Squirrel Hill Tunnel Bike Lane

Adding a bike lane was discussed during the 2013 rehabilitation project of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. At the time, there was not enough demand from cyclists for a dedicated bike lane. The 2013 rehabilitation project included an overhaul of the tunnel ventilation systems, paving the way for a cleaner and safer experience for cyclists to share the tunnel with cars.

This cyclist was a little bit ahead of time, but soon this will be a dedicated bike lane into the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.


Phase 1 – Bike Access to the Tunnel via New Forward Ave Bike Ramp

Squirrel Hill Tunnel Bike Lane
Detail of the Forward Ave Bike Ramp

To make this project a reality, PennDOT will be constructing a new ramp from Forward Avenue to the tunnel entrance. The Mon Warf Switchback, which officially opened in November 2018, has served as an example for the ramp that will be constructed to connect Forward Avenue with the new Squirrel Hill Tunnel bike lane.

Squirrel Hill Tunnel Bike Lane
Rendering of the Mon Wharf Switchback. Photo credit: Riverlife.

PennDOT has acknowledged that the Forward Avenue Bike Ramp may take several months to complete. They are working on a short-term solution to allow cyclists to share the current ramp with traffic until the bike ramp is completed.

Phase 2 – Connecting Bike Lanes to Pocusset Street

Squirrel Hill Tunnel Bike Lane
Map of Schenley Park. Red arrows show the segment of Pocusset Street that is bicycle and pedestrian only.

The Department of Mobility and Infrastructure explained that the Squirrel Hill Tunnel Bike Lane is Phase 1 in a larger plan to connect to Oakland and Greenfield. The second phase of the project will add a bike lane to Pocusset Street. In 2012, the segment of Pocusset Street that connects to Greenfield Road and the Greenfield bridge was deemed unsafe and closed to traffic. Bike Pittsburgh worked closely with the City of Pittsburgh to transform this into a bike and pedestrian-only street.

Phase 2 of the plan will connect the Forward Avenue Ramp with this section of Pocusset Street, thus providing a safe route from the tunnel to Greenfield or Schenley Park trails.

Bike Lanes and Traffic

The Parkway East traffic is notorious for long lines around the tunnels and Pittsburgh was recently ranked #7 on the list of the cities with the worst traffic.

When asked about how this change would impact traffic, the mayor responded, “I hope drivers will remain in good spirits about this change that we believe will have a positive impact on these neighborhoods, hopefully, any frustration will be eliminated as drivers realize this is a plan that was unveiled for April 1.

History of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel

The Squirrel Hill Tunnel first opened to traffic in 1953. In 2013, the height of the ceiling of the tunnel was raised to accommodate larger tractor-trailers. WQED Pittsburgh produced a 30-minute television episode about the Squirrel Hill Tunnels for Rick Sebak’s “It’s Pittsburgh & A Lot of Other Stuff.”

Resources for Cyclists in the City of Pittsburgh

Bike Pittsburgh is a cyclist and pedestrian advocacy organization. Bike Pittsburgh publishes a Pittsburgh Bike Map that offers bike lanes and the safest routes for cyclists in the city.

Disclaimer: Happy April Fools Day! Thanks for reading all the way down to the bottom. We hope you will stick around and check out some of our other stories, which we promise are totally true and factual. 

Pittsburgh born and raised, Lindsay has been writing about the people who love Pittsburgh since 2008.

More Local Stories

Eat Play Stay Orlando: Sanford

On this episode of Eat Play Stay Orlando explore what’s new in the Northern part of town. Sanford has a plethora of breweries, bars, and delicious dining options to choose from.

Hometown Tragedy: The Pike County Massacre

On this episode of Hometown Tragedy: Missing in Milwaukee, we’ll explore what happened to Jerica Banks, her children, and how it impacted their community.

Six New Orleans parks that are perfect locations to celebrate 4th of July

Head to one of these six New Orleans parks to celebrate Independence Day in the city.

Cheap Date Orlando: Punk Rock & Pooches

Two Orlando couples shop vintage, search for the perfect slice, visit a post-apocalyptic saloon, and take the stage on blind dates in Orlando.

Fit and Fab: Free summer workouts in Boston

Cover photo courtesy Getty Images Looking to get fit for the summer? Still wary of COVID-19 or just looking for some sunshine while you sweat? Here are some Boston free summer workouts across the city so you can keep moving all season long! Seaport Sweat May 2 to Sept. 29 Boston’s biggest free workout series…

What’s On the Menu?: Farm-to-table

The farm-to-table movement brings locally grown foods to your plate. Not only will enjoying farm-to-table meals allow you to indulge in fresh, nutritional, seasonal dishes, but farm-to-table dining helps the environment and supports the local economy.  Check out these delicious farm-to-table restaurants in Greenville, South Carolina on the latest episode of What’s On the Menu?. …

A guide to some of the best Black-owned brunch spots in NOLA

Gather the crew together, make those reservations, and celebrate all things Black at brunch. 

A guide to Pittsburgh’s summer events must-do list

Check out our roundup below for the can’t-miss events happening in the city over the next few months.

Eat Play Stay Orlando: Tarpon Springs

In this episode of Eat Play Stay Orlando you’ll be transported to a thriving Greek community nestled on Florida’s gulf coast. From sponge diving to flaming cheese to a Greek bakery that supplies a ginormous amount of baklava to the entire country, you’re sure to fall in love with Greek culture in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Dorchester doughnuts that pack a paczki

These traditional Polish pastries are the real deal.

Exploring the history of Pittsburgh’s Chinatown

At one time, there was even an informal Chinatown mayor to act as a community liaison.

vote for the mayor of Pittsburgh

Tue. May 17 Primary Election Day in Pittsburgh

Tuesday is Election Day in Pittsburgh – we’ve got the details on where to vote and who is on the ballot

Best local florists in Pittsburgh

A guide to the best local florists in Pittsburgh

Here’s where to get bright booms from local florist shops in the city.

Chef Keyla Nogueira brings Brazilian home cooking to Highland Park

At Casa Brasil in Highland Park, the menu features Brazilian home cooking staples with plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan-friendly options.