Bike In PGH Tunnels?

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This topic contains 32 replies, has 25 voices, and was last updated by  lognpa 1 yr, 1 mo.

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Simon Testa

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Sep 16 2008 at 12:00pm #

Can one bike in the PGH tunnels?

More specifically the Wabash and Liberty Tunnels?


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Sep 16 2008 at 12:27pm #

Not legally. Only motor vehicles are permitted. The one exception is the Armstrong Tunnel which has a pedestrian walkway through it.

Simon Testa

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Sep 16 2008 at 12:52pm #

Thanks Scott. I notice that the Dirty Dozen route takes in the Liberty tubes! I guess they sneak through when no ones looking?

The Wabash Tunnel always seems empty – has any one ever thought of petitoning the Port Authority to see if they would allow riding through the Wabash?

brian j

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Sep 16 2008 at 1:20pm #

Yep, the DD “sneaks” through.

A co-worker has told me he sees someone ride through the tubes every morning.

Some people have been in contact with the Port Authority about the Wabash Tunnel. Check the Allegheny County Cycling mailing list/Google group archive for more information.


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May 4 2009 at 9:37pm #

yea that guy in the am is a friend of mine.used to be my roommate. when we used to live in Beach view we both used ti ride through the tunnels. till the workers started to run out and scream at you from the center island at the beginning. if your gonna slip through do it from west liberty ave its its down hill you can get some speed and stick to the wall. this is of course dangerous and illegal.


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May 5 2009 at 2:08pm #

i have been pulled over for riding through the wabash tunnel. the irony is that no cars passed us while we were getting yelled at.

willie p

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May 5 2009 at 2:42pm #

I’ve ridden through the Lib, heading into the city (slight downhill) on early sunday or late sunday…OR DURING ANY STILLER GAME!!!

steevo is right, when i drive through the wabash, i have NEVER been passed by a car going the other way.



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Aug 2 2009 at 2:03am #

so, if you ride through the armstrong tunnel, do you have to ride on the walkway? it seems really tight over there.


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Aug 3 2009 at 2:39pm #

it is really tight on the sidewalk. especially if you see another cyclist coming at ya.

taking the lanes in the armstrong tunnel is legal i suppose. i don’t think there are any signs restricting it (like the liberty tubes do). i’m just not sure i’d recommend it for most people


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Aug 3 2009 at 2:55pm #

I like riding through the Armstrong Tunnels.


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Aug 3 2009 at 5:59pm #

this is kinda off topic, but everytime i go thru the armstrong tunnel, and see how dirty the walls are, i think of this amazing video called “Reverse Graffiti”:


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Aug 5 2009 at 3:17am #

I change buses right there at Roethlisberger Corners every morning. Yesterday, I saw a bicyclist go sailing across Second Ave into the Armstrong Tunnel, tailed very closely by a cement truck. Not my idea of a good time.

Wabash, we gotta get on Port Authority’s case to explicitly allow bicycles. Of all the holes through MtWash, that’s the safest for bike travel.


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Jun 17 2011 at 4:01am #

Resurrecting this dormant thread, I wanted to do a quick survey of Armstrong Tunnels riders. I was coming from downtown to the South Side, so naturally I wanted to ride through them (southbound) to the 10th Street Bridge. He initially didn’t want to go through them at all, but then he went through but insisted on taking the sidewalk, and then yelled at me for riding in the main roadway.

I suspect that for a top speed situation, the main road is wider and thus better. Certainly the sidewalk helps on intimidation, since even one car engine (or a car going the opposite direction, in the other tunnel) magnified in the echo chamber sounds like Indy 500 or something.

From a safety perspective, which is better? I remember reading that collisions from the rear are rare, and that crossing intersections on sidewalks is some huge percentage of them.

Should I insist that he take the road? He’s a pretty advanced urban cyclist, riding in traffic through Oakland and Downtown, but sometimes does some annoying rookie bike rider maneuvers, including not signaling, ignoring stop signs and lights, and (as here) being too eager to hop onto the sidewalk.


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Jun 17 2011 at 4:31am #

From downtown to lower South Side I’d opt for 2nd Ave & avoid that thing entirely.

Nick D

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Jun 17 2011 at 4:36am #

The only times I have ever ridden in the Armstrong tunnels were either with CM or Flock.

On another note, I walked through the Squirrel Hill Tunnels the other night.


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Jun 17 2011 at 5:03am #

“From a safety perspective, which is better?”

leverhart, that is a good question. I suspect the answer is “it depends”? When on a mtb I’ve hewed to the sidewalk. Now that I’m zinging around on a road bike, I’m inclined to take the road. Followed another cyclist through the tunnel yesterday, and she chose the sidewalk. Two groups of three pedestrians we encountered had to press up against the barrier and lean out into the roadway to accommodate her, and then me as I trailed. It was tight. I thanked the pedestrians and apologized as I passed. They did not seem to mind the inconvenience. Even yelled back “road’s just too dangerous” and that prompted your question to enter my mind.

From both ends the cars enter from a dead stop, and the tunnel is short and unless a driver floors it, they are not going to get up past thirty or so, and they will have to stop or at least decelerate at the end of the tunnel, (unlike the Squirrel Tunnel or the Liberty Tubes). So I think next time I’ll definitely take the road going West (towards the 10th St. Bridge).

I’m undecided about the other direction, but will likely try it to see how that goes.

Safety aside, I do think it’s rude to ride through on the sidewalk. It is really tough on and dangerous for the pedestrian traffic. I felt boorish even though I wasn’t bombing through there, though the cyclist preceding me was.


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Jun 17 2011 at 6:50am #

I’ve been riding through the Armstrong in both directions for so long I forget how scary it can be for people. Like when Stef and I went on our very first ride together and I told her to stick close and then just hauled ass through a traffic jam in the tunnel. I think she almost broke up with me over that. My two tips, make sure your rear blinky is on and bright and take the center of the lane so as to be visible around the bends and force lane changes to pass.


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Jun 17 2011 at 7:39am #

@cburch: Do people really pass you in there? I mean, it’s single lane each direction with a double yellow line isn’t it?

Spot on about the rear blinkie. I wouldn’t be considering riding through Armstrong except that I recently acquired a very nice one (which I mostly clip on my belt (read: butt)). (I even use it in the grocery and no one has rear ended me with a buggy. Sometimes I wear the helmet too; haven’t been beaned by a can of beans in a coon’s age. Of course I haven’t been eaten by a tiger yet either… Wearing of both articles has been entirely inadvertent, I swear.)


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Jun 17 2011 at 11:57am #

I saw three cyclists come and go through the tunnel in the space of one red light cycle yesterday. Ian, the safety problem with sidewalks is intersections (including driveways) and pedestrians. There aren’t any of the former in the tunnel. We know that the rate of rear-end collisions is much higher after dark. So if you’re using the road, have good taillights and lane position. If you’re on the sidewalk, go slow.


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Jun 17 2011 at 3:13pm #

When traffic is light, I tend to go through the armstrong tunnels, otherwise I’ll take 2nd ave. The exhaust buildup in there is kind of choking when there is a lot of traffic.


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Jun 17 2011 at 3:58pm #

I like to vocalize very lound and strange noises as I go through Armstrong, as either a pedestrian (jogging) or cyclist (in the road – I can’t ride on sidewalks anymore, I just can’t). The loud and strange noises are for safety, of course, and are NOT me playing with the lovely echo. I think the tunnel is safe, provided you make loud and strange noises all the way through it.


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Jun 17 2011 at 4:11pm #

@fungi – its two lanes in each tunnel both in the same direction.


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Jun 17 2011 at 4:39pm #

+1 quizbot – from downtown to SS there is no need for the Armstrong tunnels – unless you WANT to do the tunnel.

I go through there to get from Mercy Hospital (where I “work”), to the Southside.

I used to take the sidewalk, but there are a lot of pedestrians. The saidewalk is narrow enough that it is a little scary going down hill, that is south, even without pedestrians.

With pedestrians, if they are going the other way, I’ll even put a foot down to let them pass me safely. Passing in the same direction is problematic.

So, downhill, I take a lane now.

I haven’t done the tunnel in the uphill (north) direction. Just hasn’t come up. I’d try the sidewalk, first.


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Jun 17 2011 at 6:01pm #

I agree that biking on that narrow sidewalk is rude. It’s hard enough for pedestrians to pass other pedestrians. With bikes, bigger pedestrians can wind up smushed against the grimy wall, stretched out into the traffic lane and vulnerable to side mirrors, or even poked or scratched by bike hardware.

I’d be happy to see the city post “No bikes on sidewalk” signs there. And add sharrows and “Bikes: use full lane” signs at the same time.


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Jun 17 2011 at 8:24pm #

It would be a substantial detour for ieverhart to avoid the Armstrong tunnels, knowing his route.

@cburch: Two lanes each way? Cool, then I’ll be taking a lane next time I pass through. From the sidewalk I had never really counted. I’m sure I’ll be more intimately acquainted quite soon.

@Lyle: Though I’m sure you have more formal training and perhaps experience with safety issues, it’s not a standard sidewalk in that tunnel. Following that cyclist I can verify your statements on driveways and intersections. After the 10th St. Bridge she came close to being greased by a van backing up at the Holiday Inn driveway, then almost creamed a pedestrian, and was nearly taken out by a truck turning in, at the next intersection. I was on the road by that time.

+1 Steven: …though no “sharrows”. “Bikes Use Full Lane” Rules.


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Jun 18 2011 at 12:55am #

to downtown is a little rough because it’s up hill (a little). I always double check my blinky. i use the side walk across the 10th street bridge, wait for all traffic to go through my green light, then go. That makes me the last person through the tunnel and It give me a solid minute or two before cars start in the tunnel from the other directions (not from the bridge). i take the lane, cars pass, its fine. I do not, however, stay in line with traffic at the light, that part scares me a bit cause there’s a slight bend at the end of the tunnel.

towards SS is easy. down hill, can keep up with traffic.


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Jun 18 2011 at 12:03pm #

wait for all traffic to go through my green light, then go. That makes me the last person through the tunnel

That’s a good strategy – reverse filtering, so to speak.


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Jun 19 2011 at 12:16am #

Ugh, tunnels. I go under a small one three times a week in West Mifflin under the county airport.

I usually have my headlightblinky on. Another annoying thing about tunnel sidewalks is that they’re (in my experience) littered with like three years of broken glass.


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Jun 19 2011 at 11:36am #

I don’t mind going through the Armstrong tunnels on the road anymore. I move with traffic in the right hand lane. No more sneaking through stopped traffic in between the two lanes. It really isn’t a long tunnel.


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Jun 20 2011 at 6:05pm #

take the lane, don’t be intimidated, or avoid the tunnel altogether. IMO the sidewalk isn’t a viable option.


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Dec 27 2013 at 9:02am #

I’ve ridden through the Liberty Tubes twice, both times before 5 AM… there was NOONE on the road and I didn’t see the sign prohibiting cyclists. Does anyone know where the sign is? It is not a limited access highway, so if the sign is not posted it would be legal, right?

Mr. Destructicity

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Dec 27 2013 at 9:35am #

@lognpa: From the Liberty Bridge entrance the sign is to the right of the tunnels in the grass (though it may be blocked at times by construction signage). From the South Hills entrance, there are signs posted on either side of the tunnels.

Both sets of signs are clearly visible on Google Maps if you use Street View.

Admittedly, the signs say “Motor vehicles only.” If you want to get all pedantic and try riding an electric assist through the tunnel, go for it…


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Dec 27 2013 at 9:56am #

Thanks! When I rode through there was ongoing construction, though not at the exact time I rode through, so the sign probably was covered by a construction sign.

Thanks again!

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