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Munhall cops ticketing cyclists on the GAP

This topic contains 83 replies, has 38 voices, and was last updated by  AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe 7 mos, 3 weeks.

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salty

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Aug 11 2013 at 4:26pm #

BIKE ALERT – West Homestead Police Department is issuing citations to bicyclists for not stopping at Stop Signs on the GAP Trail near Costco

sigh… getting in and out of Costco sucked event before they ran the trail through there, now it’s just a complete mess. I’m sure that Costco/Waterfront forced it to be that way, but it is a terrible, terrible design. It certainly doesn’t help that Costco has 3 driveways.

as a bonus, there are some very “PG letter to the editor” type replies.


salty

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Aug 11 2013 at 4:28pm #

oops, apparently i meant to type “west homestead cops” not munhall…


helen s

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Aug 11 2013 at 4:55pm #

I hope they are being just as vigilant for drivers in that general area also.


Pierce

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Aug 11 2013 at 5:00pm #

It would be nice if the cops decided to ticket cars who failed to yield to pedestrians/stop at stop sign over by the train track crossing

Agreed that it’s a stupid segment of the trail. Yes, let’s needlessly put the trail through several parking lot entrances and exits. Great idea!


Ahlir

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Aug 11 2013 at 5:02pm #

I think as long as the signage is clear, I don’t see any problem with what the cops are doing. Are they handling out actual tickets or just warnings? I hope the latter. The point should be make people aware.


sierramister

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Aug 11 2013 at 5:59pm #

Wouldn’t the unintended consequence of this be that those of us who are willing to ride the road will exercise that right, and Homestead will have a whole new mess of traffic problems to contend with. I don’t particularly like riding the “trail” at that point, but I do it because I figure it would keep the town happy.

Besides, I always figured there is a minimum size for stop signs to be regulation, and I’m not sure those half-size ones are even legal.


Ahlir

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Aug 11 2013 at 6:12pm #


Wouldn’t the unintended consequence of this be that those of us who are willing to ride the road will exercise that right[?]

hm. good point… On reflection, I think that more often than not I already use the road on that stretch. It’s much more convenient and given the current traffic signs, it doesn’t disrupt car traffic. Remember, also, the speed limit is 25mph.

That said, I sympathize with the drivers, at least at the driveway opposite the multiplex: there’s a lot of traffic and I can see the bikers just getting in the way.

Of course the correct solution is to install traffic lights; even without the bike trail, it’s an iffy intersection.


Swalfoort

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Aug 11 2013 at 6:16pm #

A co-worker just mentioned to me last week how dangerous this trail crossing seemed to be. Then I checked it out during the churches ride this weekend (a bikefest event).

Safety at this intersection really does rely on all parties stopping and looking before entering the intersection — cyclists, pedestrians, joggers, cars, delivery trucks, etc.

I don’t have a problem with police enforcing this traffic regulation here. Transitions from trails to streets, or trails across streets are problematic even for experienced cyclists. Factor in a crowded trail, new riders, young children, etc., and all sorts of craziness could occur.

Thanks for the warning, Salty, and thanks for keeping everyone safe, West Homestead P.D.


sierramister

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Aug 11 2013 at 7:00pm #

Is it taboo to ask why the trail doesn’t circle around Costco in the first place? All I see on google maps is open land.


StuInMcCandless

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Aug 11 2013 at 8:15pm #

Of course the correct solution is to install traffic lights

…at $100,000 a copy, to be paid for out of local property taxes.

The real problem is the design. It’s a permanent problem which needs a permanent solution.


pbeaves

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Aug 11 2013 at 9:57pm #

it seems that there may be steeper fines for cyclists than motorists.
perhaos they are trying to set examples.

keep your heads up and the peepers peeled folks.


Vannevar

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Aug 11 2013 at 10:21pm #

Personally, I eschew the trail along the Costco sidewalk and instead ride around the back of Costco (if I’m going by the two hotels to the trail) or behind the department stores (if I’m going into Homestead).

The sidewalks in front of Costco are both (1) all that was possible given the existing constraints and (2) likely to produce casualties.

I’m under the impression that the SVT folks are working on that.

Several times, I’ve exchanged waves with the local police while taking the lane all the way through the Waterfront and they’ve never given me any grief. I get the stop sign enforcement and I don’t have a problem with it.

I’d rather get a speeding ticket and I’d frame it.


Marko82

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Aug 11 2013 at 10:23pm #

I went through there yesterday (although I was on the road). I had to wait at the Costco entrance while a car was waiting to make a left hand turn out of the lot, a car was trying to make a left hand turn into the lot, and the car in front of me was trying to make a right hand turn into the lot. It was a total C-F with each driver taking turns moving forward a foot or two only to hit their brakes when one of the other cars also started to move. I just sat the patiently wishing I had an air horn, or a megaphone to tell them to get on the sidewalk.


rsprake

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Aug 12 2013 at 8:27am #

@munhall I say let them get hit! So sick of bikers just blowing thru intersections! When they are in a wheelchair, maybe they'll get it!— sg219 (@sg219) August 11, 2013

For what it’s worth, there are stop signs leaving the Costco parking lot. In my experience they pull up so they can actually see then usually wave me through as I am slowing down. Hopefully they were pulling over freds trying to keep their heart rate up and not mom and dad out for a quiet ride.


jonawebb

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Aug 12 2013 at 8:36am #

I’ve ridden through there, not stopping at stop signs, worrying about cars coming out from Costco and the hotels and thinking, you know, that was not optimal. I should’ve stopped. But now, it just makes a whole lot more sense to take the road and the lane when going through there. Leave the sidewalk to folks out for a leisurely ride with the family.


reddan

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Aug 12 2013 at 9:23am #

But now, it just makes a whole lot more sense to take the road and the lane when going through there. Leave the sidewalk to folks out for a leisurely ride with the family.

^^That.


andyc

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Aug 12 2013 at 11:59am #

Which can cause the unintended side effect that people think “Why spend money building bike trails to have people just ride bikes in the road anyway?”

(I’m not asking – just pointing out the mindset.)


Italianblend

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Aug 12 2013 at 12:21pm #

Looks like most of us agree that it’s okay for the cops to do this. We should be stopping, at the very least, at the Costco intersection. But I agree, they should petition Costco to have the trail redirect behind the store. I’m sure it would take some doing though.

I also do not like taking that limestone trail behind the restaurants. I will usually just ride with traffic and the cops have seen me many times and haven’t ever stopped to talk to me.


Mick

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Aug 12 2013 at 1:12pm #

Since the Munhall polcie never allow driver to speed, don’t allow cars to roll through sop signs and have no tolerance for cars disrespecting crosswalks, I have no problem with this.

Oh, wait!


Swalfoort

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Aug 12 2013 at 1:17pm #

I am NOT trying to hijack this thread, but IB made a great point in the most recent comment. The limestone trail behind the restaurants/condos is great – for families with kids, and local users. Most experiened/knowledgeable riders prefer to use Waterfront Drive as a relatively easy alternative.

The problem with mandatory sidepath laws (not in place here, but discussed on some recent threads) is that if a trail is available within a certain distance of a roadway, and the jurisdiction has a mandatory sidepath law, the cyclist IS REQUIRED to use the trail.

I very much appreciate having the trail. Is serves the purpose of trail continuity, etc., and provides a safe riding environment for families, novices, etc; as well as local residents. I also very much appreciate having the option to use local roadways as alternate routes along sections of trail that I prefer not to ride.

That seems to be the prevailing sentiment in recent posts.


salty

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Aug 12 2013 at 8:02pm #

The fact it’s a recreational trail is all the more reason it’s terrible to have stop signs there. Inexperienced riders and families with small kids aren’t going to ride in the road – they’re probably on the trail specifically to avoid riding on the road. As marko said, the main entrance was messed up because of all the conflicting left turning traffic already, with impatient drivers trying to navigate the 4 lane freeway at high speeds. Now it’s a 5 way intersection instead of just 3, and it’s hardly surprising the result is even more chaos. But, yeah, ticket the cyclists out having fun on a “recreational” trail, and if they don’t like it they can ride on the road. Or not ride at all.


sierramister

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Aug 12 2013 at 8:13pm #

I have estimated anecdotal evidence that the compliance rate among the 6-8 stop signs between Sandcastle and Mitchell’s is 2%. Blowing stop signs isn’t OK, but inappropriately placing stop signs to treat bicyclists like they aren’t able to check for cross traffic is equally as wrong.

I can see giving warnings, but tickets might be over the top. If anything, somebody should write a ticket to West Homestead for approving such a plan for Costco that DID NOT include Costco cutting a path for the GAP around the back.


ieverhart

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Aug 12 2013 at 10:17pm #

Hopefully they were pulling over freds trying to keep their heart rate up and not mom and dad out for a quiet ride.

Do we have a sense of whether the folks getting ticketed were going full speed ahead, heedless of their surroundings, or were more or less cautiously rolling through the stop signs?

But now, it just makes a whole lot more sense to take the road and the lane when going through there. Leave the sidewalk to folks out for a leisurely ride with the family.

+1


salty

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Aug 13 2013 at 12:52am #

Now it’s in the paper and the trolls are already crawling out of the woodwork: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-south/police-hand-out-tickets-to-great-allegheny-passage-bicyclists-at-waterfront-699125/


Pierce

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Aug 13 2013 at 1:38am #

WTF:

“A citation could also cost cyclists points on their driver’s licenses, Mr. Dindak said.”

Do drivers who kill cyclists get any points on their licenses? But we’re going to get points on ours for rolling through a stop sign?

I go through this intersection every workday:

http://goo.gl/maps/TGmu7

Who wants to guess what percentage of cars yield to me at the crosswalks? Thankfully some do, but it’s usually a combination of waiting for a lull in traffic/playing chicken and asserting the nearly invisible crosswalk

Behind the department stores isn’t much better with people regularly driving on the wrong side of the road, and making turns without signaling

This is also pretty funny because just a few weeks ago we were complaining about the news not covering hit and run accidents.

So us getting hit by a car = not news. Us rolling through a stop sign at a bulk-item membership store= news.

“OMG! I had to wait another fifteen seconds to get my bulk mayonnaise!”

P.S. Here’s some other unreported news: How many of those traffic candle things had to be replaced at the Waterfront? From what I can tell, there’s only two or three from the original set, which are by the pump house entrance. All the rest were replaced and you can still see the bases attached to the asphalt. Was that because cyclists were breaking the law?


ultimattfrisbee

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Aug 13 2013 at 6:32am #

I use the road up to the entrance of the trail. It’s safer, quicker, and I’ve never had a problem with either police or motorists.

I did get hollered at once by some kids in a car when I was going the other direction (toward the ramp out to 8th Ave. and the Rankin bridge). I didn’t cross over after Lowe’s to get into the protected lane; I just stayed right. Traffic was light and I was moving pretty quickly, so I figured, “why cross a lane of traffic twice when I could just stay where I am?” They took exception.

I joked with them at the light about spending more time to slow down and yell at me than it would have taken just to pass me and I explained the law and my reasoning. They were cool about it, but I decided they had a point in that instance: there the semi-protected bike lane narrows the road for motorists. If I narrow it further by using the main road, I can see how I’m a bit of a pain in the arse. I’ve decided to ride behind the candles there.

So, in short, down at the Waterfront, I prefer to ride with traffic going south/west and avoiding the limestone and Costco CF altogether, but going north/east will cross over after Lowe’s to use the protected lane until the ramp to leave the complex, and feel like that’s a reasonable way to go.


ajbooth

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Aug 13 2013 at 8:26am #

Will not look at the comments…


ultimattfrisbee

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Aug 13 2013 at 8:37am #

ajbooth wrote:Will not look at the comments…

It does sort of stoke the id, doesn’t it?


chinston

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Aug 13 2013 at 8:48am #

Yet again, the real story here is about poor infrastructure and signage design – e.g., when a person is traveling on a sidewalk, as they are forced to do if they mean to stay on the official GAP through the Waterfront, they are going to tend to behave as a sidewalk-user, which means expecting that motorists should yield to them (even though, as we know, many many do not). The placement of these stop signs relative to the entrances/exits for Costco and the hotels totally subverts these expectations – and then the story becomes framed as a tale of impudent scofflaw individual cyclists.

And how sad that ticketing blitzes for failure to yield never seem to be mounted in a regular concerted way against motorists.


StuInMcCandless

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Aug 13 2013 at 9:11am #

It also means the trolls are winning. Loudest voice wins!

*further commentary suppressed*


ultimattfrisbee

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Aug 13 2013 at 9:17am #

ultimattfrisbee wrote:I use the road up to the entrance of the trail. It’s safer, quicker, and I’ve never had a problem with either police or motorists.

I did get hollered at once by some kids in a car when I was going the other direction (toward the ramp out to 8th Ave. and the Rankin bridge). I didn’t cross over after Lowe’s to get into the protected lane; I just stayed right. Traffic was light and I was moving pretty quickly, so I figured, “why cross a lane of traffic twice when I could just stay where I am?” They took exception.

I joked with them at the light about spending more time to slow down and yell at me than it would have taken just to pass me and I explained the law and my reasoning. They were cool about it, but I decided they had a point in that instance: there the semi-protected bike lane narrows the road for motorists. If I narrow it further by using the main road, I can see how I’m a bit of a pain in the arse. I’ve decided to ride behind the candles there.

So, in short, down at the Waterfront, I prefer to ride with traffic going south/west and avoiding the limestone and Costco CF altogether, but going north/east will cross over after Lowe’s to use the protected lane until the ramp to leave the complex, and feel like that’s a reasonable way to go.

And when I’m on my road bike, I dislike crushed limestone anyway because I’m disturbingly obsessive about the cleanliness of that bike and feel compelled to clean the chain and drivetrain if I get the sense that there’s a lot of grit kicking up into it. This is likely a bit overboard, but my brain does it to me.


rsprake

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Aug 13 2013 at 9:29am #

Pierce wrote:How many of those traffic candle things had to be replaced at the Waterfront? From what I can tell, there’s only two or three from the original set, which are by the pump house entrance. All the rest were replaced and you can still see the bases attached to the asphalt. Was that because cyclists were breaking the law?

They were all replaced with versions that will bend backwards when hit.


Drewbacca

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Aug 13 2013 at 9:35am #

StuInMcCandless wrote:It also means the trolls are winning. Loudest voice wins!

Good thing that talking to family/friends, writing to representatives, doing advocacy work, etc. are all louder forms of voicing our POV than trollish comments in response to an article/opinion in an online-only format that most people never bother to read.


Swalfoort

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Aug 13 2013 at 9:46am #

The Trib Review article reports that they are citations, not warnings. They report that 4 citations have been issued. Each levies a fine of $10.


Mick

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Aug 13 2013 at 10:19am #

I bet that if we watched, there is illegal selective enforcement going on here. Are the cars stopping for all stop signs? Are those that roll through the stop signs (after slowing down to bicycle speeds) cited? If not, there is some kind of case here.


mjacobPGH

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Aug 13 2013 at 10:57am #

All the more reason to bike on the road here. Everyone should go on the road and take the lane. I wonder how many calls the Mayor of Homestead would get then when people can’t drive 50 MPH coming off of the bridge around the bend at Costco. I mean, it’s really important to drive that fast so that you can get a table quicker at TGIFridays.


icemanbb

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Aug 13 2013 at 11:29am #

Now I’ll be using the road through there all the time as opposed to some of the time.


erok

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Aug 13 2013 at 12:46pm #

This is a good read:

http://bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/2009/09/01/making-better-laws/


sierramister

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Aug 13 2013 at 6:35pm #

Just got back from Homestead. They are sitting behind the intensely dangerous crossing for… the Pittsburgh Burger Company.

The Costco and hotel I understand, but sitting in front of an empty business waiting for cyclists shows the motivation: harassment.


mjacobPGH

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Aug 13 2013 at 7:08pm #

As countless drivers speed by….. on the CBS Story tonight they said the police were still “investigating the legality of issuing $10 citations.” Shouldn’t you do that BEFORE you decide to issue them?

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