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I love seeing so many people on the trails, but… (suggestions?)

This topic contains 98 replies, has 31 voices, and was last updated by  RustyRed 1 yr, 1 mo.

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sarah_q

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Jun 30 2013 at 8:11am #

More people on bikes makes me so happy.

But I am worried about how congested the trails are, esp now the GAP is complete. Yesterday the point/jail trail was a hot mess. I can’t imagine things at the S Side were any better.

Here are some ideas that might help:

1) can we get a dotted yellow line like a road down the middle of the trails? This might get the ride left, pass right idea across. And might curtail the people who walk/run/ride 4-5 abreast blocking the trail.

2) signage at entry points/parking lots.
* A speedlimit. I know this is not going to be a popular idea and I am guilty of going way too fast on the jailtrail myself. But like speeding through a residential neighborhood, hauling ass down a crowded urban trail is dangerous.
* littering law with fines posted (and enforced, but that may be too much to ask)
* stay right except to pass.
* a notice to remind people to look both ways before stepping into the trail.

Other ideas?

Some people will say RULES SUCK rabblerabblerabble and I actually agree. But honestly the trail conditions are starting to really scare me. Recently my friend got a nice trip to the ER when someone walked out in front of him. I am worried a kid is going to get mowed down by a cat 6er.


Vannevar

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Jun 30 2013 at 8:30am #

I do think that the “early adopters” (like many of the folks here) got used to having trail segments mostly to ourselves, or at least everybody out there had a clue, and now that it’s not a RandomActOfCourage to ride to the Waterfront I’m all like Damn, where did all these people come from and why are they trying to kill me?

I think Sarah_Q’s quite right that the solutions/norms that worked last year won’t be suitable next year or even this year. That’s just a sign of growth and success and that’s OK.

I’m absolutely convinced that there’s an education and training need to help equip all the newcomers to succeed, co-exist, and enjoy the trail. Just because a trail segment opens doesn’t mean they have any clue about good behaviors, and if we don’t provide signage and guidance on expectations then we’re essentially submitting the process to Darwinisn (film at eleven).

When I go to other cities’ busy-congested trail networks, I see adaptations. For instance, in DC and NY I definitely see centerline marking – and the place locally where I’d most like to see centerline making is the Sandcastle segment.

I see presentations of Who yields to Whom – and generally cyclists yield to everybody.

I see signs that say, max leash length is six feet, which I really appreciate so I don’t end up between Owner and Precious on a 20′ stretch leash. This is from Nashville TN:

The most popular new trail sections have an opportunity for new user education and maybe even evangelism. I spoke with YC and the Steel Valley folks are thinking about this. It’s both a problem and an opportunity.

We could be selling those folks BikePgh memberships, I suppose, and offer a “How To Ride the Pgh Trails” online tutorial. That would be spiffy and bring new people to the website.


jonawebb

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Jun 30 2013 at 8:58am #

I agree with the ideas about signs, etc., but in the meantime we’re just going to have to slow down and watch out. We are now like motorists and should treat other trail users the way we’d like to be treated on roads. No speeding, four foot rule applies, etc.


RustyRed

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Jun 30 2013 at 9:08am #

Agreed! There’s no signage whatsoever down by the Point and PNC Park. I don’t see signage along the PNCPark/Jail Trail until you get well into Chateau. As someone who rides to baseball games and then attempts to use the trail to get back to a car parked in Chateau, negotiating a crowd of drunken Pirates fans is a slow, bell-heavy task.
Last night with the fireworks made it impossible for anyone to even hear a bell. My blinky lights were no distraction to the craned necks of the Oooers and Ahhers completely blocking the RiverWalk.
I think I needed an air-horn, mirror ball and a strobe light.


gg

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Jun 30 2013 at 1:40pm #

My suggestion is probably a bit different. Conform and enjoy the fact that people are possibly starting a journey on a bike. There may be some first timers out there and I feel it isn’t the time to educate them with some sort of force. They will educate themselves a little at a time. I think signs are good to help people understand how to ride on trails, but I don’t feel it is good for experience cyclists to yell or TELL people so much. Take it easy on them. Never try and “make time” on a trail. Keep in mind, they are on our side and who knows, might be future commuters into work. It starts with trails and possibly group rides. We want them to love it! LOVE! The more who really enjoy it the better. I go out of my way to make people who haven’t a clue on trails to be very polite and encouraging. I want them to really enjoy the day and not be crapped on by the spandex crowd, that will most likely want to pass them fast, close and in an obnoxious fashion. I am trying to make up for them.

Anyway, signs are the best way to educate. A sign saying here is the best way to ride on a trail. Blah, blah, blah.

I hope the trend continues in our region and we have double the cyclists we have today in 5 years! Go newbies!


sarah_q

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Jun 30 2013 at 1:50pm #

I don’t recall anyone suggesting yelling at people or “educating with some sort of force”. lol


gg

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Jun 30 2013 at 2:07pm #

sarah_q wrote:I don’t recall anyone suggesting yelling at people or “educating with some sort of force”. lol

That may be, but I see and hear it. Just saying. Maybe not YOU, but it is out there and my voice about it needs to be heard, IMHO. I want to promote cycling to all. You stated, “trail conditions are starting to scare me”. That has me concerned you are ready to blow up on some poor newbie.


stefb

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Jun 30 2013 at 2:25pm #

When I realized that I would be on the trails yesterday at 10am I was like fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. Near the bike rental is the worst. There are lots of kids that don’t know any better, but there are adults that should. Who just turns around in the middle of the trail without warning or looking behind them? Some people do. People who aren’t thinking. It is dangerous and aggravating. I think that on straight stretches on the jail trail, a speed limit is not necessary. I do tend to go fast-ish on this trail. But for windy parts of the south side trail and in front of pnc park it would make more sense because there are more pedestrians. People need to be more aware that they just shouldn’t walk 5 across on any trail though. That isn’t sharing the trail with anyone, whether the people are walking faster or riding faster than they are going. Just my thoughts. I just assumed that everyone knew that as a common courtesy, staying to the right and not getting in the way is what you do.


salty

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Jun 30 2013 at 2:47pm #

Certainly there’s room for education and getting people to stay to the right. I think a centerline would help (as long as the paint isn’t slippery), and I like that brown sign above which is straight to the point, although I feel like there are probably already some signs that say stuff like that.

But, the speed limit is 15, and just like on the road no one is entitled to be able to do the speed limit without any obstructions. Sometimes I slow down to 3-4mph or even get off my bike and walk it if the conditions warrant, and I think everyone could be reminded of that – “experienced” cyclists might be the worst offenders in that regard. If you want to get somewhere fast, take the road.


steevo

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Jun 30 2013 at 3:05pm #

If the speed limit on the jail trail is enforced before speed limits on
the road I might actually quit riding bikes.
(last night somebody was doing somewhere between 70-90
mph up golfcourse hill in Schenley)…


edmonds59

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Jun 30 2013 at 3:13pm #

I love seeing tons of people on the trails, it makes me happy. Just people out having fun. If I don’t feel like dealing with it I ride on the road. I mostly ride on the road.


sarah_q

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Jun 30 2013 at 3:21pm #

Steevo, I agree. I could not believe how many people passed me yesterday going at least 80 mph and these same people have a VERY poor understanding of the concept of four feet.

I would guess a speedlimit on trails would be enforced just like the leash law in Frick Park.

But perhaps posting the speedlimit would remind people to slow down. I know several people who do the majority of their race training on the trails. !!

Edmonds, personally I agree with you. But if there is a way to make the trail safer, I am all for it. When it comes to riding with my son, I prefer taking trails when possible.


Pierce

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Jun 30 2013 at 8:14pm #

“I know several people who do the majority of their race training on the trails.”

Was your friend that went to the ER one of them?

I’d advise caution around peds/dogs/kids/pretty much everybody now

Until we can get four lane bike paths or separated bike/ped paths, those of us who are say, going to work, will have to deal with those who are just screwing around

I eagerly await the cold, when the problem will solve itself

Well, but then the trails will probably be all icy and it’ll be another set of problems

There’s a time when it’s not icy, but still too cold for most casual riders, and it’ll be great


byogman

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Jun 30 2013 at 8:20pm #

I tend to ride somewhat on the fast side on the trail but will slow down and wait as long as necessary for a good passing opportunity. Not out to scare anyone. That’s really all it takes, a little consideration.

Maybe a dashed center line is a good idea just because the most common inconsiderate behavior I see are pedestrians stacked 2, 3 or even 4 abreast and/or not remotely keeping to the right. Even if they take up only half the trail instead, if there are any gaps in the opposing direction at least you’ve got SOMETHING.

But in terms of speed limits, do we have crash reports and angry joggers or something or is this just mentally projecting forward from it being busy? I’m a father of small kids I take out to the trail, and I would be decidedly angry if someone decided to pass my daughter with insufficient clearance at any speed. I’d be apoplectic if they were going 20+.

But I’ve never seen that. I’ve seen people slow way the heck down, give my daughters a very wide passing zone, and then pound back up to speed once past. I’m self conscious for the fact that they don’t track all that straight yet, but I’ve never felt like I had to fear for them. I’m decidedly not in favor making unnecessary rules hoping for a lack of enforcement.


Mikhail

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Jun 30 2013 at 8:22pm #

Pierce wrote:Until we can get four lane bike paths or separated bike/ped paths, those of us who are say, going to work, will have to deal with those who are just screwing around

It’s not going to work. We know this fro m bike lanes on Liberty, East Liberty, etc I started to pay a lot of attention if I go along those bike lanes either during early morning or late evening due to a lot of runners taking them.


sarah_q

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Jun 30 2013 at 8:36pm #

Was your friend that went to the ER one of them?

He was just out for a chill ride that day.

Oh, and I am not hoping for lack of enforcement. I am just realistically anticipating a lack of enforcement. I watch cars roll the 5-way stop in front of my house *all day*. I have lost all hope.

Perhaps trail use info would be helpful for trail users. That’s my thought.


byogman

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Jun 30 2013 at 9:05pm #

sarah_q wrote:
Oh, and I am not hoping for lack of enforcement. I am just realistically anticipating a lack of enforcement.

That is indeed the most likely outcome, but I think you still loose by making rules that are not necessary (that I’ve seen), in that all of a sudden you don’t have the speeding argument against cars when they’re yacking about law breaking cyclists.

Honestly, I’m annoyed enough by the one existing 15mph sign I remember seeing on the trail segment headed toward the bald eagle’s nest. Unless there’s demonstrable harm from cyclists going faster, can we take it down? I almost never go 15mph on the trail… only if I’m sick or trying to minimize sweat. And if I’m feeling punchy and want to CAT6 the train for a minute and I have the trail ahead of me with nobody to pass to do it, why the heck not? You just ride much slower when there are folks around. Not hard.


edmonds59

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Jun 30 2013 at 9:38pm #

I have seen any number of cat 6 racers get annoyed when their pace gets interrupted by a family or someone just out for a nice day, idiots. That just leaves a bad impression on everyone. No one should be “training” on these trails, unless maybe they’re getting their ass up and out at 6 am, when it might make some sense. That behaviour isn’t any different from impatient car drivers who make it miserable for everyone else. You need to go faster on a bike than 15 mph? Sorry, get out on a road.


Vannevar

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Jun 30 2013 at 10:20pm #

there are different yet reasonable perspectives, but personally (and it’s just my opinion) I’m inclined to like a posted 15mph speed limit on the trails. And I don’t know that it constrains me, either.
(Cue the catholic-guilt-rule-breaking-rationalization-music, please)

When I want to go fast at sunrise and I have the place to myself, I’m going. If there’s any walkers or other riders around, I’m doing slow enough to stop if they surprise me and way less than 15. The trail is not for racing or making great time.

But what I love about the posting of a 15mph speed limit is: it’s the presence of civilization and the communication of the standard, even though nobody will ever enforce it.

Once, only once, I saw an outlier** in a skinsuit and an aerohelmet going back and forth, multiple passes, on a crowded jail trail doing his best attempt at Warp2. He’d get right up behind people and shout, Boring! Boring! Boring! until he could pass.

(** outlier is the new way I pronounce asshole)

Having a posted 15mph speed limit provides a basis for knowing that behavior is wrong. Otherwise it’s do whatever you want because there are no rules.

Generally, I’m the libertarian, “signs are just the Man trying to keep me down” kind of guy. In this case, I think there’s value in communicating the norm – because otherwise, nobody knows.

If you want to ride 25 and you don’t want to ride on the road, there’s always the Wash. Blvd oval, have fun.


salty

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Jun 30 2013 at 11:14pm #

Yeah, I don’t want or expect anyone to enforce the speed limit on the trails, it should be a matter of common sense. Ideally there wouldn’t need to be a posted limit, but not sometimes common sense needs a little nudge. The same applies to road laws and pretty much any other laws as far as I’m concerned.

In my kingdom, I’d only have one rule – don’t be an asshole. Punishable by death, of course.


Mikhail

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Jun 30 2013 at 11:45pm #

Why do we stick to 15 mph? Why it’s not 5, 10, or 25? What is a rationale behind 15?


Mikhail

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Jun 30 2013 at 11:48pm #

On Thursday I saw a man running backwards on EFT waving all over trail and looking where he was going every 5-10 seconds. It was… hm… an interesting experience.


salty

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Jul 1 2013 at 12:09am #

Sure, someone could do studies of bike speeds vs injury/death risk, and then we could debate what’s an appropriate level of risk ad nauseum, and…

Of course the truth is it depends on conditions. Sometimes 5 is the reasonable speed to go. Sometimes less. If there’s really no one else on the trail, then 25 might be reasonable, but you’d be hard pressed to argue that is a reasonable speed while in the proximity of other people. People walking on the trail have as much right to be there as cyclists, and they deserve not to be menaced by cyclists who think they’re “in the way”. Hopefully the irony of the situation is not lost on anyone. It all goes back to my one rule…


Pierce

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Jul 1 2013 at 12:17am #

@Mikhail

“We know this fro m bike lanes on Liberty, East Liberty, etc”

In those cases, there is no separated ped lane. The sidewalk doesn’t count because it’s made from concrete, not asphalt like the bike lane, and so runners go on the road because it’s better for their feet. If the pedestrian trail was made of the same material as the bike trail, there should be less of that.

“and I have the trail ahead of me with nobody to pass to do it, why the heck not?”

Depending on the time of day, if you’re on the SS trail you could accidentally run over a rabbit, which besides hurting the rabbit, could wipe yourself out as well

“Perhaps trail use info would be helpful for trail users.”

Agreed. Just put an informative sign at trail entrances, that’s probably the best we can hope for. Pathletes are going to be pathletes, and roller skaters are going to have an annoyingly wide gate

I think there’s going to be some crashes on the sandcastle leg of the trial because it’s pretty narrow in some points, just enough space for two bikes


Mikhail

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Jul 1 2013 at 12:49am #

salty wrote:that is a reasonable speed while in the proximity of other people

Hm, I thought that speed limit and how fast you should go are two different things. So question still stands — how do we arrive to 15 mph speed limit?


Steven

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Jul 1 2013 at 1:09am #

FWIW, 15 mph is the speed limit on the GAP, presumably including the Jail Trail portion.

ETA: Same on the Montour Trail.


stefb

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Jul 1 2013 at 4:01am #

I am with salty. The don’t be an asshole rule should apply to everyone. I don’t mind slowing down and passing slower people.. Or not slowing down and giving slower people lots of room, but the slower people need to be aware of others as well. Going 15 mph is still gonna hurt all parties involved if someone pulls a uturn right in the middle of the trail.


byogman

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Jul 1 2013 at 4:05am #

I guess technically the limit is already there. I plan on breaking it as close to continuously as is possible without breaking Salty’s rule. Yes, I do use the trail to make time. It’s flat, it’s smooth, and I don’t have to stop. Seems pretty darn well suited for making time!

Now, I will say, if it doesn’t matter WHERE you’re going, you’re just putting in miles, it makes more sense to think of it more like an either or. But going from the presence of one or two douchebags and an immediate jump toward more intrusive rule oriented thinking. Man… that’s sad. Again, hasn’t been a problem when I brought my 4 and 8 year old daughters out there. I think I’m a reasonably protective dad.

I find it really odd to see so much pro sentiment for the limit here. Seems to me that limits don’t inform anything unless they’re enforced (I mean really, do they do anything on the roads?), and I don’t think anyone has come forward yet to say that they believe such enforcement would be a worthy use of police resources. Does anyone actually believe that??


sarah_q

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Jul 1 2013 at 4:18am #

@Pierce: “pathletes” <– lol

I had no idea there was a speedlimit already. Of all of the suggestions I offered in my OP this has most people worked up. Like the 25 mph speedlimit on my street when I am driving, if it's 5:30 a.m. and I can clearly see a long way in front of me I go faster. The last thing I am worried about is a ticket! I would probably do the same on the trail.

What about painting the center line? A sign that says keep right except to pass? Are any of these things even plausible to hope for? Signs and paint cost $.


Vannevar

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Jul 1 2013 at 5:37am #

Salty, I really like your Rule:


edmonds59

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Jul 1 2013 at 6:13am #

byogman wrote:But going from the presence of one or two douchebags and an immediate jump toward more intrusive rule oriented thinking. Man… that’s sad.

^I’m with that.
A lot of wisdom on this thread. I love the don’t be an a-hole rule, but I think history shows that is doomed to failure. Kind of like the “Share the Road” signs, the jerks will always interpret it as “Assholes Rule, brah!”


Benzo

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Jul 1 2013 at 6:46am #

sarah_q wrote:What about painting the center line? A sign that says keep right except to pass? Are any of these things even plausible to hope for? Signs and paint cost $.

I think that if a center line was painted, a lot of people would automatically just assume to stay right as if it was a traffic lane on the road. Throw a few arrows on the trail every now and then to indicate the flow of traffic in each lane and you’ll be set.

I think this would be especially helpful on the narrow sandcastle / keystone metals section, but I wouldn’t mind a center line on pretty much all of the shared use trails (and the ft duquesne bridge ramp). However, There is no hope for wrangling people near the stadiums though… I’ll just detour to the road during busy times over there.

I think having a basic rules sign at the trail-heads would be helpful, and educational for new trail users. When it comes to the rules, fewer is better, simple is better. The basic trail rules sign posted earlier is probably fine, but could be a bit simpler. Would definitely like it posted consistently, and always appear the same, so people remember what they saw.

I think having the speed limit posted is enough, there are not enough resources to bother trying to enforce it. I never have any damn idea what speed I’m going since 99% of the time I have no cycling computer and generally don’t care. I try to pass pedestrians either with a very wide berth (4 feet is a good rule) or I slow down to close to walking speed if I need to pass closer.


Mikhail

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Jul 1 2013 at 6:48am #

stefb wrote:I am with salty. The don’t be an asshole rule should apply to everyone. I don’t mind slowing down and passing slower people.. Or not slowing down and giving slower people lots of room, but the slower people need to be aware of others as well. Going 15 mph is still gonna hurt all parties involved if someone pulls a uturn right in the middle of the trail.

I with salty on this one too. And can crawl if I need too. Especially around kids. Saying hello to kids is a very interesting since it almost always puts a smile on their faces. :)

15 mph is a pretty fast. And you are right that it’s going to hurt everyone involved. And I am trying understand why 15.


gg

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Jul 1 2013 at 6:57am #

One thing that is kind of cool about this thread. We wouldn’t have even had one like it just a short time ago. That in itself is progress. Thanks to all that are helping make the city better for those not in a motor vehicle.


cdavey

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Jul 1 2013 at 7:34am #

This is all common sense and common courtesy. Which seems to be the emerging consensus of this thread. Thi is Salty’s rule put, shall we say, in a more polite and proper way for general public consumption. (Cue little old ladies to enter trail stage left.

@gg — Yep. I was thinking the same thing. In it’s own way it’s a nice problem to suddenly have, isn’t it?

@Mikhail — I suspect 15 mph is an arbitrary choice based on common sense experience to balance competing choices — safety vs. different speeds of mixed traffic flow. There probably isn’t any demonstrable thing to show it like a traffic study or the like. I know that’s going to drive the engineer/hard sicence/mathematician guy in you nuts, but that’s probably how it is. I’ll normally cruise an asphalt-surfaced trail like the Jail Trail at 14-16 mph. Maybe a little faster depending upon conditions. But when it’s crowded, I know I can’t. It doesn’t feel safe. Because it isn’t safe. There is less likely enough time or space for the reaction time and to make a defensive move safely if something happens in front of you. It’s part of your own personal traffic control planning when you put your bike on the trail to ride it. I suspect it’s that personal experience extrapolated out by assuming everyone else has the same personal calcuus/planning experience, and turning it into a general rule based upon that assumed general experience. My $.02, anyway.


Ahlir

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Jul 1 2013 at 8:25am #

15mph is maybe enough to disinvite the Cat-6′ers but still speedy enough for the majority of riders. (And, 15mph is close to 25kph so maybe it’s a good universal.)

At the onset the trail next to the Sandcastle, at the narrow part had a centerline lightly sketched in, but it eventually disappeared. I would tend to agree with the previous post(s) suggesting that arrows are a better way of signaling lanes.

btw, if you’re going to “train” why not do it on Beaver or River? They’re much better for speed riding. Not to mention the Circle.


byogman

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Jul 1 2013 at 8:30am #

edmonds59 wrote:
I love the don’t be an a-hole rule, but I think history shows that is doomed to failure.

Agreed, but replace the “don’t be an a-hole rule” with “speed limits” and I agree even more. So, wait. Hmmn.

Now, I can see the point of some signage on stuff that does make a more intrinsic difference to how much the flow on the trail is unpredictable and has the potential for danger. Stuff like keeping right, no weaving around, no sudden stops from high speed, 4 foot passing.

What I actually like the most is putting Salty’s rule on a sign. It sounds silly, but because of that would actually stand out and be memorable at least. Maybe use that as a headliner for the more specific stuff above.


byogman

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Jul 1 2013 at 8:53am #

Ahlir wrote:15mph is maybe enough to disinvite the Cat-6?ers but still speedy enough for the majority of riders

Maybe and maybe, I guess I’m not sure if I count as a Cat-6′er or not. I don’t like 15 as a limit and would be hard to get rid of. Have I done something to someone, put anyone at any kind of risk, been rude? No, no, and no.

Also, supposing someone has a long way to go. Let’s say they live in McKeesport and work downtown. There’s a guy I know who has done this, but it’s a bit too time consuming to do regularly. Would you say tough luck, 15mph, for someone who has to go on the trail 15 miles? (yes, I’m aware there are other routes, but they stink comparatively).

If I had that commute, I’d probably be a bit more stubborn about riding, shift it to much emptier times on the trail so I’d have plenty of room to give the fewer people I had to pass, but you’d better believe I’d hightail it, very possibly on a lowracer or fared recumbent.

So, riding one of those, I’d be going somewhat faster than a typical Cat-6er. Would that make me a bad actor? Should I get the GAP’s first speeding ticket? Do I at least get the 9 you’re fine 10 you’re mine fudge a motorist does?


jonawebb

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Jul 1 2013 at 9:01am #

It would be totally cool if it turned out we could self-regulate in response to the increased traffic. Threads like this are a step in the right direction. Let’s be kind, considerate, slow, and safe around other trail users.


edmonds59

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Jul 1 2013 at 9:05am #

When kids are little we teach them all the basics of how not to be assholes, sharing, being polite, helping others, yadayada, but then we gradually teach them that that is really communism and socialism, so that by the time they are 18 they are able to go to other countries and kill people. :)

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