BikePGH!

List of Roads that could easily accommodate a bike lane

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Benzo

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Jul 10 2013 at 7:19am #

HiddenVariable wrote:closing penn in the strip to automobile traffic just seems like a no-brainer to me. at least during the day time and especially on weekends. it already plays like a one-lane road, with folks double parking, and pedestrian traffic always taking up room in the outer lanes. we need a road that is pedestrian and bikes only; penn ave is screaming for it.

I don’t think we’ll need this so much if we get that nice commuter bike path as part of the allegheney green boulevard project which would run along the railroad right of way between smallman and railroad st. However, I’m not sure the timeframe on that.


Benzo

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Jul 10 2013 at 7:30am #

Ahlir wrote:Melwood should get retractable bollards to allow people who actually live on that road to drive through while forcing non-residents to use Bigelow. They should have those on a lot of residential streets that people “shortcut” through. I saw them all over the place in Amsterdam (as well as many “one way – except bikes” streets)

have you seen the pedestrian crossing signs in pittsburgh that sit in the middle of the street. Many of them have been nearly destroyed to the point that they don’t even bother putting them out anymore. See also, the thread about drivers hitting houses. Inept drivers would probably break this quickly, costing the city tens of thousands of dollars to initially install, then much more to repair.


erok

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Jul 10 2013 at 8:20am #

no doubt, just trying to figure out the bike angle. Second Ave, and these types of ambiguous roads, are particularly bad on a motorcycle because even though you are able to do the speed limit (or above), you don’t take up very much physical space and people will try to pass you. if you try to ride in the middle of the lane, people may try to pass on both sides of you.


buffalo buffalo

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Jul 10 2013 at 10:21am #

Ahlir wrote:Have you seen this in this country?

You’d have to get the residents to pay for it. (And everyone on the street will need a gizmo to control the system.) Not to mention the maintenance. It makes it a gated community. Not urban. Yuck.

Stanford University (which, definitely not urban, but anyway) used to have a series of roads which were closed to most vehicles but not all. They used what were essentially cement blocks (similar to ones on the end of a parking space in a lot, but narrower and higher)—passenger cars couldn’t get through, but high-bodied vehicles like their campus shuttles and service vehicles passed right over them. I’m not sure if they still have this or if they’ve been replaced, as I haven’t really been there much in nearly 15 years.

In other areas, particularly in some neighborhoods just off campus in Palo Alto, barriers have been placed across certain roads that used to be high-traffic cut-throughs. Cars can still get there, but you have to go around the block; pedestrians and bikes can pass straight through, functionally equivalent to the Louisa St staircase. Through traffic is thus passively shunted around the neighborhood, but local traffic is maintained. This would be the solution I’d suggest for Gold/Melwood–block it in the middle so that cars are forced to go around (as there are plenty of alternate routes) but leave it open for pedestrian and bike traffic (as those alternate routes aren’t particularly viable for nonmotorized traffic).

(btw, Pitt has those motorized bollards on the Fifth Avenue and loading dock entrances to the Cathedral; the Fifth Ave ones are transponder controlled, while a guard works the dock access for deliveries from non-campus vehicles. They seem to be either open or being worked on pretty frequently, however.)


HiddenVariable

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Jul 10 2013 at 10:58am #

Benzo wrote:I don’t think we’ll need this so much if we get that nice commuter bike path as part of the allegheney green boulevard project which would run along the railroad right of way between smallman and railroad st. However, I’m not sure the timeframe on that.

that’s fine for those of us on bicyles that are passing through, but penn is often the destination. and with vendors covering the sidewalks year round, people routinely walk in the street already. wouldn’t this be much more pleasant if the road itself was reclaimed for pedestrians, vendors, and maybe even bicycles?


jonawebb

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Jul 10 2013 at 11:03am #

I see a lot of resistance if you try to reduce parking on Penn without showing some increased customer traffic from other transit modes. The reaction of any business would be, there go our customers. People buy large amounts of stuff in the Strip District and many people I would guess drive in from long distances away. Is it really realistic to think that they’re going to get there another way if they can’t park?


buffalo buffalo

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Jul 10 2013 at 11:33am #

There are huge parking lots in the Strip–nearly the entire area from Smallman to the river, from 21st all the way to 11th, is parking lot. There’s a big parking lot under the Vets Bridge between Penn and Smallman, and several others besides. But, of course, they all cost money…


Mikhail

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Jul 11 2013 at 12:00pm #

buffalo buffalo wrote:But, of course, they all cost money…

I thought that there is almost no free parking along Smallman during regular hours.


buffalo buffalo

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Jul 11 2013 at 4:37pm #

Mikhail wrote:I thought that there is almost no free parking along Smallman during regular hours.

There’s no free parking on Penn, either–it’s metered up to about 26th, I think, though I don’t know how frequently they’re checked, or if they’re checked at all on Saturday.
Most of the lots, including the giant expanse behind the Produce Terminal, are always paid parking, though, even on Sunday.


mattre

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Jul 11 2013 at 6:02pm #

This seems like as good a place as any to ask: Is there a legal reason why bikes cannot use the bus lanes?

I understand that it is not allowed, but why? I use parts of the Fifth Ave bus lane to get into Oakland where the sidewalk is blocked or trashed (always ready to hop onto the sidewalk if a bus comes), and it has occurred to me that it’s really no different (from the bus perspective) than any of the other roads I ride on. When I ride on Brighton, the bus needs to wait until it’s clear and cross the double yellow to pass me, so I can’t see a reason why bus drivers on Fifth couldn’t do the same.

I would love to see “Do Not Enter, Except Busses and Bicycles” signs posted, and either sharrows or a dashed bike lane making it official. Is there something in the state traffic codes that prevents this, or would it be a local decision? If it is the latter, I think this should be a priority. It would finally give us a safe, usable route into Oakland from downtown, and it seems like it could be done more cheaply than just about anything else.


Mick

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Jul 11 2013 at 7:09pm #

@ mattre,

The image I have for bikes in the bike lane being legal isthis:

Some guy with three small kids going up 5th ave from the Birmingham Bridge at rush hour. At maybe 2 mph. With too much traffic coming down Fifth to for a bus to pass. And maybe 6 buses behind him.

It would be nice, but I think it’s a non-starter.

That being said, until about 5 years ago, various police (usually the PAT “police” who do not seem to meet even the very low bar of serve-and-protect level as the Pgh police) would harass bikers for being in the bike lane. I mean, even when the bus lane was empty at 3 am.

I haven’t heard of that happening for a while.


mark

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Jul 11 2013 at 9:54pm #

irvine street! all the way to the trail.

boundary street!

glenwood bridge!


StuInMcCandless

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Jul 12 2013 at 2:14am #

Federal Street won’t be high on anyone’s list since it is so crazy steep — 10 to 15% from Henderson to Lafayette — but that partitioning of lane space above the lower Perrysville split is just weird. Uphill has about half the width of downhill. Possibly this is to allow for a parking lane on the downhill side.

See for yourself.

Can’t they move that center line over just a couple of feet, even if they don’t define a bike lane?


byogman

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Jul 12 2013 at 11:25am #

All two lane 25 limit roads that are wider on the downhill side to accommodate free parking, when lane markings need to be re-painted, need to be repainted to be wider on the uphill side at least where there’s any meaningful grade. Higher limit and wider roads also need to be considered w.r.t. uphill/downhill differences and true parking need, but at least 25 limit two lane roads, a possible need for pedestrians to cross shouldn’t be a limiting factor.

Further, no parking specific infrastructure or pavement markings after the switch please. If after several inspections that area is determined to be only lightly utilized for parking, those uphills need to be on the “can do” list for the city for bike lanes (assuming there is such a list, is there?).

If there is demand for it as free parking but that demand is projected to evaporate if motorists would have to pay for it at all, and/or there’s very nearby (200 yards sound good?) underutilized public parking, it needs to go on the “can probably do” list (assuming there is such a list, is there?).

Then where the lanes are painted should depend on budget and level of public demand, and whether it prompts further digging to a “can probably do” zone. But in order for things to happen there needs to be a clear idea where, things need to be tee-ed up. By people outside our organization, so my statement of the way things ought to be basically amounts to a lot of nothing, but anyways, what are lunch breaks for?


buffalo buffalo

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Jul 12 2013 at 11:59am #

The ironic part of Federal, of course, is that there is no parking on the downhill side until you get at least 2/3 of the way up the hill–first there’s a service road, then reforested hillside, and then abandoned houses. Even where you do get cars parked, they seem to be for the houses on the uphill side, most of which have driveways.

Frankly, based on my experience both in Fineview and in Lawrenceville, I’m half surprised they bothered to paint a yellow line at all.


Mick

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Jul 12 2013 at 12:16pm #

salty wrote:Of course, the truth is, it’s not a “short cut” unless you speed, run the stop signs, don’t yield to peds, etc.

A little bit of enforcement of Pittsburgh’s traffic laws would go an awful long way.


jonawebb

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Jul 18 2013 at 10:56am #

What about Spring Way in the Strip? I rode up that way out of town the other day, and it seemed to work pretty well, It was certainly quiet. Yes, there are frequent cross streets, and yes, there is truck traffic there, but it appeared to me that there was enough space for a protected cycletrack, even allowing space for trucks.


buffalo buffalo

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Jul 18 2013 at 11:02am #

jonawebb wrote:it appeared to me that there was enough space for a protected cycletrack, even allowing space for trucks.

There isn’t. I’ve been up that way when there were trucks using it, and there was barely room to squeeze past. Note that most of the storefronts that back up to it have no loading area–the trucks just park in the alley; sometimes they angle towards the door (which means they block Spring even more). There’s no way you’d get any kind of protected facility in there.


Ted

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Jul 18 2013 at 1:50pm #

I can sympathize with the reasons for wanting to close some of these neighborhood streets to car traffic, but I don’t like the idea of limiting access.

Everyone’s taxes paid for all of our roads. Why should local residents on less busy residential streets get special privileges to turn them into extra quiet streets, basically a giant shared driveway, while those on busy streets may have to deal with increased traffic as a result? (This also applies to bikers on busier streets). When I think of “neighborhood traffic only” streets, I think of the Washington, DC suburbs where a disproportionate number of these streets happen to be in very rich neighborhoods. Their signs threaten multiple points on your license for a single trespassing offense. I don’t want to make the state of our roads even more class-based than it is now.


rsprake

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Jul 18 2013 at 2:19pm #

To me, it’s not so much about restricting all access, just restricting through access when there is a street designed for it nearby.


jonawebb

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Jul 18 2013 at 2:34pm #

Ted wrote:Why should local residents on less busy residential streets get special privileges to turn them into extra quiet streets, basically a giant shared driveway, while those on busy streets may have to deal with increased traffic as a result?

Because that’s the design. Smaller, quieter, residential streets feed into larger, noisier main thoroughfares. It’s a problem when motorists, seeking to avoid backed up traffic on the main routes, start turning the side streets into substitutes, speeding down streets and using them more heavily than intended. It leads to public safety as well as road maintenance issues.


Ted

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Jul 18 2013 at 2:57pm #

jonawebb wrote:
Because that’s the design. Smaller, quieter, residential streets feed into larger, noisier main thoroughfares. It’s a problem when motorists, seeking to avoid backed up traffic on the main routes, start turning the side streets into substitutes, speeding down streets and using them more heavily than intended. It leads to public safety as well as road maintenance issues.

Speeding is bad on any street, of course. It sounds like the real problem is that the main roads are congested. Given this, everyone can travel slowly on the main roads, or a few people can travel alternative routes on back roads, which ideally should shorten the travel times for both groups, a real advantage.

The disadvantages seem less certain to me. How do we know that a given driver is more dangerous on a smaller road than a large one? And what makes the road maintenance more of a problem for a trip on a secondary road vs a primary road? (And I think the original “intention” of a street is much less important than a current appraisal of its utility. I don’t think the original planners realized Ellsworth would be such a well-used bike throughway, but that’s how it’s been repurposed because it made sense. Can only bikes repurpose, or can cars do so as well?)


jonawebb

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Jul 18 2013 at 3:47pm #

Ted wrote:It sounds like the real problem is that the main roads are congested.

Well, no, the real problem is too many people trying to drive. People will tolerate a certain amount of traffic, and generally in the US, traffic expands until that limit is reached. Adding residential streets into the mix just means that traffic expands to fill them, too, and degrades the quality of life of people living along them.
I suggest you read up on urban design — everybody here seems to like Jane Jacobs, but there are lots of resources out there. But in summary, the history of US cities in the last 60 years or so has been trying to keep auto traffic from destroying the structure and health of cities. Controlling auto traffic, limiting where it can go, is an important part of this.


Mikhail

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Jul 18 2013 at 4:08pm #

Ted wrote:And what makes the road maintenance more of a problem for a trip on a secondary road vs a primary road?

Secondary roads are not designed and are not constructed to hold a heavy traffic. Pavement is not as thick, usually there is no a big gravel “pillow” under pavements, asphalt is of a different quality. So secondary road could handle (just an example) total of 100,000 vehicles (cars and SUVs). If this is a quiet residential street with total population of 200 people then you would see about 500 cars per day (some other people would occasionally drive through). And the road could last 2000 days. Or between 5-6 years before it should be repaved. And the price per mile of this road is relatively cheap. Now, imagine that traffic starts to hit this street. You can get 2,000 per day. And road would need to be repaved in 1-1.5 year. so it brings it to the price of real heavy road designed to carry 5,000 cars per day. But still carrying less car.


Mikhail

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Jul 18 2013 at 4:09pm #

jonawebb wrote:the real problem is too many people trying to drive.

+100500


StuInMcCandless

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Jul 19 2013 at 8:26am #

The problem upstream of that is people not knowing that they have other options or not knowing how to use those other options. Mainly it is an information deficit — dressing for the bike, knowing where the bus stops are and where and when the buses go, knowing how to mount a bike on a bus rack. But until and unless you conquer that, you are going to continue seeing increased pressure to improve traffic capacity.

Beyond that, there are human issues (read: fear in various forms, and/or racism) that prevent people from wanting to consider non-driving options. But information delivery is a measurable and attainable goal. Go there first.


Mikhail

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Jul 19 2013 at 10:07am #

StuInMcCandless wrote:knowing where the bus stops are and where and when the buses go, knowing how to mount a bike on a bus rack.

Stu,

Two bicycles on a bus/LTR is not enough for even 10% commuting people. I understand that is still better than nothing. Which leads to some interesting problem that some people have in Europe. I believe I saw people riding to SHVG on a bike, locking bike, getting out on 1st, get another bike. And then in reverse. Which is cool but one space on bike corrals is permanently taken away. I was thinking to do the same.


buffalo buffalo

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Jul 19 2013 at 10:14am #

Mikhail wrote:

StuInMcCandless wrote:knowing where the bus stops are and where and when the buses go, knowing how to mount a bike on a bus rack.

I believe I saw people riding to SHVG on a bike, locking bike, getting out on 1st, get another bike. And then in reverse. Which is cool but one space on bike corrals is permanently taken away. I was thinking to do the same.

Bike share should help with this…

(btw, do the giant coaches PAT uses for the far-suburban flyer routes have bike racks, too? Or have they gotten rid of them entirely? I don’t work Downtown, and don’t recall having seen one in, well, years, now that I think about it.)

(Also, has anyone talked to Westmoreland Transit or the other outstate operators about bus bike racks?)


StuInMcCandless

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Jul 19 2013 at 1:57pm #

All the 1900s have bike racks. They’re three feet off the ground and devilishly difficult to use if you’re, say, five-foot-two. For better or worse, many of those buses are going bye-bye very soon, replaced by standard-height articulateds.


Ted

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Jul 20 2013 at 10:12am #

@Mikhail, that’s very interesting! Where is a good place I can read more about that kind of thing?

Do you think paving should dictate a road’s use, or should the road’s use dictate the paving getting used? I’m not sure that roads like Atwood, McKee, and Dawson in Oakland were designed as anything but low traffic neighborhood roads, but they are all fairly highly trafficed roads now. Is this bad?

@jonawebb, thanks for the recommendation. I read the first half of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” a little bit ago: I should really finish! Do you have any other recommendations for good resources to read?

I feel like there are much better ways to get people out of their cars than restricting through-access to non-primary roads, but I’m willing to admit that I’m probably not as well read on this subject as some other posters.


jonawebb

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Jul 20 2013 at 10:31am #

“Straphanger” by Taras Grescoe is good. More modern, lots of examples. And an interesting read.


mark

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Jul 20 2013 at 5:32pm #

smallman through the strip


Ahlir

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Jul 20 2013 at 6:42pm #

Two bicycles on a bus/LTR is not enough for even 10% commuting people. I understand that is still better than nothing. Which leads to some interesting problem

I’ve ended up in three situations, so far, where there’s three bikers and one rack. Once I stayed off and just rode home, other times others passed.

On an easy day (like Sunday) why can’t the bus driver let a bike on the bus? On weekdays they seem happy to to stuff more and more people on board… why are bikes all that different?

For commuting days: couldn’t we have park’n ride for bikes? You know, like for cars.


Steven

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Jul 20 2013 at 10:56pm #

Don’t we have park’n’ride for bikes already? There are bike racks at lots of busway and T stops now. I don’t know how much use they get during the day, but in the evenings the ones I see are mostly empty.

Bikes are often harder and slower to get aboard than wheelchairs (depending on the bus type), and take up more space. (I’d say a bike takes the same space as 5-10 tightly packed standees.) They’re more likely to roll around and hit someone if the bus stops suddenly, and sometimes have sharp bits. But it would be good if you could take your bike on board when practical if the rack’s full.

PAAC has/had one three-bike bus rack for testing, so as Rack’n’Roll gets more popular, that’s a possibility (assuming those racks worked OK).

Down the line, PAAC is looking at stations and special buses for their rapid bus service with platforms level with the door, like a T car, so you could potentially roll a bike right on. Now add hooks for hanging bikes, and you’ve got a fairly quick option for dealing with lots more bikes (at least on those routes), simply by adding more hooks as needed.


salty

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Jul 21 2013 at 12:17am #

I had a driver let me take my bike on the 54 once which was good since it was the last one and I was in no condition to ride home. So my memory is a bit fuzzy but it’s not really practical unless the bus is really empty. No one is going to be able to get past your bike in the aisle (I sat by the back door so I could shove it in the stairwell if needed). Aside from the PITA factor it’s probably a safety issue. And there’s the possibility of the bike becoming a missile in a crash. Luckily I was holding onto my bike well (as the driver instructed when I got on) because the driver had to slam on the brakes to avoid a (drunk and/or stupid) driver that went up the wrong side of the divider at main and liberty and nearly hit the bus head on. Ironically my bike probably would have been smashed if it were on the rack.

Some sort of hook arrangement might make it work a little better but you still have to maneuver the bike around people… It just doesn’t seem very practical to me, unfortunately.


edmonds59

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Jul 21 2013 at 7:16am #

On many buses, the first 2 aisle facing seats nearest the driver flip up against the wall to accommodate a wheelchair, and there are strap hook tie downs to secure the chair, though no one ever does that. If for some reason a driver let you on the bus if a rack was broken or something, that would be the way to do it.


StuInMcCandless

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Jul 21 2013 at 8:47am #

PAT had a three-bike rack very early in the game, maybe 2001-2002. That bus has long been scrapped. I have no idea what happened to the rack.


Ahlir

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Jul 21 2013 at 10:09am #

You can take your bike on the BART train in San Francisco.
The trolley in Portland has hooks for bikes. However…

One difference to keep in mind is that trains (and I guess trolleys) are wider than buses so managing bikes and such is just easier given the space.

Excepting the most recent models Pittsburgh buses seem to be configured for long rides (in from the suburbs?) and have way more seats than seems reasonable for urban transit. You don’t need a bike to see this: just try to move from the back of the bus to the front when it’s crowded (“wait! wait! I’m getting off!” as the locals refer to it).


HiddenVariable

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Jul 30 2013 at 9:30am #

apparently, brereton/28th can easily accommodate a bike lane:


erok

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Jul 30 2013 at 2:37pm #

And S Bouquet St in Oakland

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