BikePGH!

bike infrastructure in the Hill District

This topic contains 23 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Ahlir 5 mos, 4 weeks.

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StuInMcCandless

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Apr 22 2014 at 6:28am #

Last week, I attended a community event with a transit theme, at a community center on Wylie Avenue in the Hill. I biked up Centre Ave, not a difficult climb at all, but when I got there, there was not a bike rack in sight. Fortunately, they suggested I simply lean my bike along the wall of an inside hallway. When I came out, there were two bikes there.

But the larger question remains: No bike racks? At a community center? And how many readily accessible bike racks are there anywhere in the Hill? Is this because there is no demand? Or is there no demand because there is no infrastructure? Right-o, chicken and egg, I get that.

Taking another step back, when I see cyclists around the city, far and away the majority of the faces are white, not at all representative of the population in general. What I’m getting at is that there is untapped potential up there. Getting around by bike should not be seen as “something white people do”.

Maybe if I had $20K, I would see to it that 40 to 50 bike racks got installed in various places. But even that seems intrusive, seems like the people up there need to want them, which again revisits the chicken-egg scenario. And now I’m overthinking it again as I compose at the keyboard.

I do not know where to go with this. Just throwing it out there. But where are all the cyclists in the Hill, and why?


jonawebb

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Apr 22 2014 at 8:13am #

Demand precedes infrastructure. Many bikes were being parked in Squirrel Hill outside stores before they put in the bike racks last year. So I don’t think the lack of bike infrastructure in the Hill keeps people from biking.


Benzo

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Apr 22 2014 at 9:03am #

Kirkpatrick would be an ideal candidate for an uphill bike lane. Wide street, and great connection to the southside. However, it might be too steep for a lot of riders.


erok

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Apr 22 2014 at 9:06am #

When i’m there i park at the grocery store – tons of racks. also, the library has some. but you’re right.


J Z

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Apr 22 2014 at 11:03am #

That’s Lavelle’s district, an inquiry with his office wouldn’t be out of order, I think.

Just for comparison, if memory serves me correctly, Magee Community Recreation Center in Greenfield also doesn’t have any racks. I’ve locked up to a bench and railings when using the weight room there.

“Getting around by bike should not be seen as ‘something white people do'”. Out of curiosity, who sees it as this? Other than that satire site, you have PMTCC locally, Black Women Bike DC, etc.

There are differences in demographic participation, (i.e. less female cyclists comparatively to male cyclists), for me, that doesn’t make cycling “something guys do”.


jonawebb

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Apr 22 2014 at 11:34am #

Yeah, I kind of doubt it has so much to do with race or even class as topography and tradition. There’s not a hell of a lot of cyclists out there in the South Hills, either.


Marko82

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Apr 22 2014 at 2:08pm #

Stu, I’ve seen plenty of bikes in the Hill – it all depends on when and where you look. Not all of the people are traveling at the traditional rush hour times, nor are they traveling on what some of us think of as commuter corridors. I will say that the majority of riders are young males, but that’s not too different than anywhere else.

I will agree that they could use some racks and other infrastructure up there though.


LizziMac

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Apr 22 2014 at 3:46pm #

I don’t have raw study data or anything beyond speculation, but I’d throw a guess out there that racks equal riders, or at least more visible riders.

If I have to run to the store and want to take my bike but know that there is nowhere to lock it up, guess what I don’t do? Ride my bike to the store. I like my bike and want to keep it under my ownership (and/or prefer not to take it into stores). Riding is convenient and efficient (compared to, say, the bus or walking), but it becomes significantly less so when it takes just as much time to find a reasonable/safe place to lock and then get to the intended destination.

Perhaps there are people who live/work in the Hill and ride bikes, but you don’t see those bikes parked outside because there are no places to park outside. They may ride with routes that go from point A (home) to point A (home).

My commute has been taking me through the Hill and I definitely see people getting around on bikes. I don’t know how many of them are like myself and just passing through though.


jonawebb

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Apr 22 2014 at 4:05pm #

I would definitely like to see more racks in the Hill and other places — it’s like an invitation to ride. I just don’t think the absence of racks is keeping that many people who would otherwise ride off their bikes. I have ridden all my life and racks are a really recent innovation for me. Never made that much difference. There was always a sign or something to lock to.
I’ve been thinking for some time about an alternate route between Oakland and downtown via Center and Webster. It’s a viable way to go, if you don’t mind hills, and I think it would be much easier to reserve space for bikes that way, because I doubt it gets that much use. But there are those hills, no way around that.


Vannevar

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Apr 22 2014 at 4:34pm #

Stu, this makes me think of an ongoing theme: alliances. And to really contort your (and also Jon’s) observation : when it comes to political change, “we” don’t have a lot of deep alliances, necessarily, in the places we don’t already have {infra, lanes, racks, bikeshare} Such as: the Hill, the South Hills, Mt. Washington.

Not surprisingly, those places have “hill” or “mount” in the name, which is a clue as to why they weren’t the first places that attention turned to.

A lot of that is chicken-and-egg, but nevertheless we’re left with some areas that are govt-bike-blessed and others that are govt-bike-untouched, and when we see the opportunity to make inroads with a community that’s bike-underserved I think we should seize the opportunity for evangelism.

I think @JZ’s point about this providing entree into a convo w/ Lavelle’s office is a nugget of gold. What’s the added-value we bring to the meeting?

The particular thing that strikes me in the Hill or E.Lib is: not too many helmets. IANTHP (i am not the helmet police) but maybe that’s an opportunity for bridge-building.

So: racks, lanes, helmet-giveaways — nothing too expensive there.

Last note, Stu: maybe we choose to increase the bike-viz ourselves. Like on the May CM in the Hill? Be the change, n’at.


Ahlir

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Apr 22 2014 at 9:32pm #

Not to be difficult about it, but I see plenty of black riders in Homewood and ELib. Maybe it’s flatter.

I can’t say I’ve paid attention to racks and such. But on a practical level there’s usually something you can lock to, though racks are clearly less hassle. And more civilized-looking.


StuInMcCandless

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Apr 23 2014 at 7:12am #

FWIW, my comments about bikes as “things white people do” are not baseless. A couple of people of color I know IRL, a couple more on Twitter, “just don’t go there” when it comes to bicycles, and it is a bit of a cultural thing, from what I can gather. Online, there’s this tongue-in-cheek blog:

Stuff White People Like, #61

It’s a bit of a religious argument, like the difference between white people’s Christian churches, and black people’s Christian churches. I can’t explain it, and I do not care to poke the hornet’s nest to attempt to do so.


LizziMac

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Apr 23 2014 at 7:14am #

I recently moved to Wilkinsburg and I see a good lot of people (of many makes and models) riding bikes, especially youth. This is notable because I’ve lived in South Side Flats, the Slopes/Arlington, and North Side (Allegheny West) and I ride around the city a lot (to get to/from those places to Oakland and Downtown) and I was always surprised by the lack of young riders. Perhaps hills do have something to do with the lack adult (and child) riders? Are parents less apt to let their children ride unsupervised in more densely urban areas (likely), and to that end, I’m sure people in general are less apt to ride in such areas and/or areas with more difficult (i.e. hilly) terrain.


jonawebb

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Apr 23 2014 at 7:21am #

We’re undergoing a rapid shift in perception and adoption of bicycling by people of color, e.g., http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/equity_report.pdf.
So it’s a good time to engage with community organizations and promote infrastructure.


byogman

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Apr 23 2014 at 8:51am #

It’s not like there are parking meters anymore as a way of measuring demand for racks. And not locking, or locking to street signs is risky and a real deterrent and so the bikes you see with only those out there I don’t think is an acceptable measure. I say put a few spread out along on Center, see how that goes, then double or triple up wherever you see them being used.

++ For the suggestions for lanes on Center and Kirkpatrick.

Benzo, at some point didn’t you mention a “scary tunnel” or whatnot from strip area going up the hilll? Would be great if there were any sort of connection that a ways.


scott

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Apr 23 2014 at 2:31pm #

There are also about a half dozen racks at the new YMCA.

To be honest we were hearing from community members (until about a year ago) that they didn’t want bike infrastructure. That has changed since BikePGH presented at a couple of different community meetings in the Hill, but all-in-all that’s a pretty recent change.

The Hill will be getting a bike share station in the initial rollout and bike infrastructure will be part of the new lower-hill development.


JaySherman5000

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Apr 25 2014 at 5:48pm #

StuInMcCandless wrote:

Taking another step back, when I see cyclists around the city, far and away the majority of the faces are white, not at all representative of the population in general. What I’m getting at is that there is untapped potential up there. Getting around by bike should not be seen as “something white people do”.


Ahlir

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Apr 25 2014 at 6:08pm #

On the way home today I went by way of Center. I was reminded of why it’s not a particularly popular bike route: it’s, um, hilly.

On the plus side, it’s not that trafficy during the nominal rush hour, and the street is reasonably wide. The pavement is in pretty decent shape.

I saw that the shopping plaza with the Shop’n Save had several bike racks! Sadly, the toast type. Further up the street, the library had racks. Past that it gets residential, so no need.

Don’t recall seeing any other bikers, but then it was lightly raining.

In terms of infrastructure what first came to mind was sharrows on a couple of stretches. Thinking about it, Kirkpatrick and maybe Dimwiddle could use some as well.


erok

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Apr 28 2014 at 9:13am #

the shop’n save is not toast style. i locked to them the other day and they were the campus style like you see at pitt


Ahlir

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Apr 28 2014 at 11:27am #

The stands at the corner of Heldman and Center look like this:

The building right behind is the Shop’n Save.

These do seem like ones around Pitt; I agree they don’t look quite like the classic toaster rack and you can even get a lock around your frame if you try. But I do think of them as toast racks. Ah, the semantics…


jonawebb

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Apr 28 2014 at 11:47am #

Those are hanger racks. See how they look like a coat hanger?
What people mean when they say toaster racks are like this:

Those are the worst kind of racks. You can’t lock your frame except at the ends, the slots are too close together to be useful, and there’s a tendency to put a lot of stress on your front wheel if your bike falls over. Hence the other name, wheel-bender.
But in looking for an image I found that if you search for toaster racks you get this:

Which is a perfectly acceptable kind of rack.
The crappy toaster racks are called “traditional racks”, which makes them sound more OK than they are.


erok

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Apr 28 2014 at 2:31pm #

what jonawebb said


StuInMcCandless

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Apr 28 2014 at 2:41pm #

The toaster rack on the City-County Bldg’s portico is also not bolted down, and is light enough that a couple of strong people could lift it, with a couple of bikes still attached, and throw it in the back of a waiting pickup truck. Wouldn’t take 30 seconds.


Ahlir

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Apr 28 2014 at 6:50pm #

Right. That’s why I said it was a semantic issue.
To me, anything that might keep toast upright and separated was a toaster rack. I have now run an iteration of discriminative training over my ‘toaster rack’ concept, and I believe it will now more closely resemble the normative standard.

The training process allowed me to observe a good number of correct instances. I rather liked this one:

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