BikePGH!

Munhall cops ticketing cyclists on the GAP

This topic contains 83 replies, has 38 voices, and was last updated by  AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe 1 yr, 1 mo.

Viewing 40 posts - 41 through 80 (of 84 total)
 
Author Posts
Author Posts

Marko82

Private Message

Aug 13 2013 at 10:21pm #

My friend from the other side of the state called to tell me this made the news there.

So:
Cyclist killed by hit & run driver = nothing

Cyclists get tickets for not fully stopping = OMG


Pierce

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 2:05am #

on legality of citations…

Yeah, what exactly is the crime for failing to stop at a stop sign on a sidewalk? Are pedestrians required to stop too?


srpit

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 6:25am #

Wow. Sad to see that the newest, latest and greatest link to the community money-maker known as the GAP is fast becoming the least bike-friendly mile in it’s entire length from DC to Pgh. (Yes, I know the GAP only runs to Cumberland, but many seem to use the name to include the ride on the C&O too.)

I get that the businesses along this stretch would have concerns and perhaps they are pressuring local government to “do something”. Outside of working with the trail groups to relocate this segment to run behind those businesses though, I think they’re trying to fix the un-fixable. Those city planners and business owners really should have considered this issue BEFORE issuing the building permits or beginning construction on the new hotels. DUH!!!

I hope the managers/owners of all of those businesses see the light and finally admit that it’s going to be better for everyone if they help to actually solve this issue rather than just trying to slap the proverbial bandage on it.


cdavey

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 7:16am #

Two thoughts here:

1. @pierce – there really isn’t one. The “crime” here is one of probability. You are more probably going to get involved in an accident if you engage in this behavior. The social and economic cost of that justifies some sort of anticipatory prevention to protect us against ourselves, so the thinking seems to go.

2. It’s an easy money maker for West Homestead. It’s a lot easier to chase down a bicyclist to give him or her a ticket than it is to chase down a car. We’re low-hanging fruit that’s easily picked. It’s a variation on the old out-of-towner speed trap that municipalities used to set up to make some money. in this case West Homestead rightly figures that for $10 most people will pay it because it isn’t worth the hassle to do anything else.

Maybe the answer is to put a bright enough spotlight on this and generate enough negative publicity that everyone involved is embarrassed into stop writing tickets and moving the trail to cut their risk of liability.


sarapgh2

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 8:37am #

I’m an SVTC member and having worked with the businesses along this stretch of trail and after speaking with W. Homestead Borough folks and police, I continue to feel that all involved have a positive view of cyclists and the trail. All of these parties, including the SVTC, are coming from a place of concern about safety and making sure we’re doing all we can to reasonably ensure all transportation users at these intersections are safe. There is some continuing education that needs to go on here on all sides (for the trail users and borough and the SVTC) and we (SVTC) will be continuing to work toward that goal.

I really appreciate that the cyclists here and on the trail 99% of the time understand that cyclists/pedestrians/motorists all need to stop and look at these intersections. The businesses have reported only good things to SVTC regarding cyclists along the trail. None have reported any upset motorists.

When safety and media is involved, sometimes stories that shouldn’t have legs, do.

The trail alignment goes where it goes for many reasons. RTC has always done their absolute best to provide the safest and most reasonable alignment for the GAP while dealing with a variety of legal/environmental/other issues. Be assured that they brought that same energy to this section and worked to provide the best alternative they could. Just as the Boston-West Newton section has many stops and road crossings that we all deal with, this section will become better understood as we all become used to it. Hope that helps. Stay positive.


jonawebb

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 8:42am #

Thanks, Sara. I think everybody here appreciates the hard, unpaid work the SVTC has done to make this trail a reality. It’s a huge benefit for the region and I’m glad to hear that the Waterfront businesses see it that way.
I, personally, don’t have much of a problem with ticketing people at the stop signs, especially since there’s a good alternative for cyclists who want to go fast. Sidewalks crossing business entrances are a notorious source of accidents, and it’s fine to remind the less experienced cyclists that they have to be cautious. I think the few tickets issued and the large amount of publicity will do that.


Vannevar

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 8:47am #

(edit to add- started typing early, but clicked “post” after SaraP’s eloquent post. sorry to be asynchronous)

If I may be (positively) judgmental in a meta-way, I’ve been impressed at the discussion and the response.

I think that certain arrangements were necessary to get the trail established on the ground. I don’t think the Waterfront or Homestead wants any difficulty with cyclists, and I don’t think this is about fund-raising.

I think there’s going to be a bit of discomfort that’s going to help “them” figure out they need to reroute the trail, and I think we’re in an initial round of that. As long as nobody gets hurt, then it’s all process and it’s good, really. Not optimal but it’s one way to make sausage.

The trail routing in front of Costco and the hotels is very risky.
I love having a trail from Sandcastle to the PumpHouse and the GAP needs that.

So now they’ve had a minor media kerfuffle, and maybe that generates leverage to move the framework and get grant money to fix the problem. Great. If that happens, I think we should name this trail segment the Kabuki Trail.

For all we know, this little bit of enforcement theater is acceptable to all of the stakeholders because it advances the larger goals.

Does anybody know someone directly who got a ticket?


Astrobiker

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 8:47am #

+1 (to jonawebb)


Pierce

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 9:23am #

If as soon as the trail is done, people who would actually use the trail on a regular basis are permanently detouring around it, you did something wrong

If there’s a compelling reason for the trail to not have gone behind the Waterfront, I’d love to hear it


edmonds59

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 9:27am #

They had a sound bite on the radio this morning from the mayor of Homestead. He said there had not been any actual tickets or fines given, (which directly conflicts with the P-G article) so there’s that. And he was still checking on the legality of issuing tickets. I wish he had been a little more clear on what exactly he was still checking on. Like, of course it’s legal to issue tickets to cyclists, but is it legal to issue tickets to cyclists for ad hoc little stop signs, on a sidewalk, crossing a private business driveway? I would have liked to have heard that elaboration.
The real head shaking moment was when the newscaster said “biking is so popular on the gap that last weekend bicycles snarled traffic”. Really? So it wasn’t the crap traffic design, or incompetent drivers, or that there was just too much traffic, it was bikes? Oooookaaaaay.


HiddenVariable

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 9:48am #

edmonds59 wrote:The real head shaking moment was when the newscaster said “biking is so popular on the gap that last weekend bicycles snarled traffic”. Really? So it wasn’t the crap traffic design, or incompetent drivers, or that there was just too much traffic, it was bikes? Oooookaaaaay.

this is how i feel when people get mad for being stuck behind me. the only reason they’re stuck there is because there are too many cars taking up the space they could use to go around.


jonawebb

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 9:53am #

The GAP is so crowded, nobody uses it anymore.
— Yogi Berra


andyc

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 11:40am #

At $10/pop I can’t even see this as a moneymaker for Homestead. I think cost of having an officer writing tickets would exceed any revenue.

After thinking about it, I’m glad they are proactively doing something as these intersections are very dangerous. To proceed safely, you must slow to 1-2 mph, then look in 3 directions: first left for regular road traffic, then straight for oncoming cars wanting to make a left/right turn, then back over your shoulder for cars coming from the other direction wanting to make a left or right turn. In the current design, the vehicles on the main road do have the right of way.

I see many people go through those stop signs without checking back over their shoulders and I cringe every time.

That all being said, the only permanent solution is to fix the trail. (How about just having a road diet and extending the 2 way bike right of way all the way around the waterfront?)


Lee

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 11:58am #

Reinforces my decision to take the road instead of that section of ‘trail’ I was a little surprised when I saw that it was routed onto the sidewalk. That area just needs signage pointing toward the real trails instead of pretending there’s a good way to get from Costco to Eat ‘n Park on a bike.


Benzo

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 12:00pm #

andyc wrote:That all being said, the only permanent solution is to fix the trail. (How about just having a road diet and extending the 2 way bike right of way all the way around the waterfront?)

Best solution. Save the sidewalk for pedestrians.


srpit

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 2:05pm #

@sarapgh2 …that all involved have a positive view of cyclists and the trail. First of all, thanks for letting us know that. Sometimes (especially when many here seem to be feeling that cyclists are being picked on) we just aren’t sure how the other guy is feeling and we tend to read too much into it.

Second of all – I’d like to spell out very clearly that I think The SVTC has done a fantastic job – THANK YOU. I don’t want my appreciation for having this piece of infrastructure and my gratitude for all the hours and hard work that SVTC has done to get lost in the chaff.

We’re definitely doing some Monday morning quarterbacking here, but that’s pretty much inevitable. The plan isn’t perfect and I’m betting the design wasn’t SVTC’s first choice. We aren’t privy to all the negotiating that went on or any of the reasons why it wasn’t set up differently. I believe that most of us do recognize that there was a lot of work and compromise involved though.

What we have now is wonderful in so many ways, but that doesn’t mean we don’t see the down sides. As human nature would have it, we just can’t resist offering our solutions to this. The biggest problem is that with any type or mix of traffic (vehicular, pedestrian, bike, train, rollerblade, airplanes or boats) the more conflict points (places where the traffic must cross each other’s paths) the higher the potential for that traffic to come together in ways that no one wants it to. In this short stretch of real estate there are a LOT of complex (as Andyc describes above) conflict points. I’m sure one of the local statisticians could figure out the probability of something tragic eventually going wrong.

An old air traffic control expression gives you the bottom line: Put airplanes where airplanes aren’t. So in this case: Put cyclists and pedestrians where cars aren’t. While we really do appreciate what we have, we just can’t help but hope that the people with the money and power to modify this will choose to do so. Hopefully before someone (cyclist, pedestrian, or motorist) makes a human error that costs them or another person a lot more than $10.


gg

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 2:40pm #

srpit wrote:Wow. Sad to see that the newest, latest and greatest link to the community money-maker known as the GAP is fast becoming the least bike-friendly mile in it’s entire length from DC to Pgh. (Yes, I know the GAP only runs to Cumberland, but many seem to use the name to include the ride on the C&O too.)

Yeah, seems to be true. Kind of sad, but “welcome cyclists”! “Come on down and ride the GAP and enjoy the day”. With a fee of course from your local police department. While every single day there are speeding cars ripping through the city at WAY over the speed limit with no regard for anyone but themselves, we must go after these cyclists. They are a nuisance you know and a danger to the SUV drivers! Goodness!


Marko82

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 3:25pm #

At the end of the Sandcastle lot by Costco there is a stop sign for cyclists and I believe the road has yield signs; yet just about every time I encounter a car there – they will waive me through. Some of this probably happens at the driveway intersections too, and although it is much appreciated, it probably sends the wrong message to newer cyclists that they do not have to stop ever. This is also what makes the Pittsburgh-left so dangerous – anticipating a courtesy.

Add to this the situation where a driver waives one person through and then the bikes just keep coming situation (like the peds in the crosswalk at the cathedral of learning!), and I can understand the need for some enforcement or education. I just think that the enforcement should be warnings for now unless they start ticketing cars for speeding, etc. too


Drewbacca

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 5:51pm #

Just a thought, but someone might want to write a letter to the founder/CEO of Costco himself… he seems like a man of action. We need a Kirkland Signature BikePath. ;)

Another suggestion, how about those proximity detectors like you find at some automobile garages… “car approaching.” I’m all for stopping when necessary but militant enforcement isn’t going to help anyone out. Or how about addressing the REAL problem and make cars yield to cyclists and pedestrians instead of the other way around. I’m not even saying that as a bicycle advocate, I think it is just common sense (it would be different if there was just ONE intersection in question, then I can understand having cyclists wait for a cross-light or something). I don’t think we should be reenforcing the bigger-vehicle-gets-right-of-way mentality. I haven’t been there for a while, do the cars also have a stop sign? If that were the case and both types of vehicle got ticketed, I think this would seem less biased.

All that said, I do think that the police are watching out for vulnerable cyclists and not the other way around… it’s the tactic I disagree with, not the assumed principle.


sierramister

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 8:11pm #

The SVTC rep mentioned the numerous crossings through Boston, and I would argue that the comparison actually paints Homestead in a more demeaning light. In Boston, there might be 12 crossings, but they alternate the flow, so only 6 or so have stop signs (the other 6 have stop signs for the car traffic). That seems like a fair compromise when the trail can’t really avoid the crossings.

But in this case, the trail could have been designed to avoid the crossings (very simply I might add), and there is no compromise on the flow. It is simply the fact that the cars have the right of way, and the trail is second class. That is not the case in Boston.


salty

Private Message

Aug 14 2013 at 10:08pm #

My assumption is it’s basically all Costco’s fault (and/or the waterfront developer), and the trail organizations did the best they could given the circumstances that probably included uncooperative businesses.

The layout of the waterfront is a complete turd with or without the bike trail. It was completely designed for cars, and not even very well at that.


jonawebb

Private Message

Aug 16 2013 at 2:22pm #

Yeah, it sucks, especially the odd separation between the retail and housing developments, but OTOH it is one of very few really successful retail developments in a depressed area that have worked in Greater Pittsburgh. So it must be doing something right.


cburch

Private Message

Aug 16 2013 at 4:02pm #

they are. they let (well-off, white) people from the east end get into and out of the shopping area directly from the bridge so they don’t have to interact with the (low-income, mostly black) community around it. to the average shopper it feels like a suburban shopping center that just happens to be right down the street.

that’s also why it doesn’t do a damn thing for the communities it sits inside.


Pierce

Private Message

Aug 16 2013 at 7:24pm #

Thanks cburch, I was going to post a snarky remark about that too, but then didn’t

That’s kind of my new strategy to seem like less of a dick on here

The Waterfront is close to rich Squirrel Hill people, students who can access it by various bus routes, and it’s (until recently with the Bottom Dollar) the only grocery store around for a lot of communities

It’s also the only significant shopping area between there and the South Hills

Are there any examples of failed new development in depressed areas?

The Whole Foods area is going gangbusters

The Highland Building started off as a rich man’s investment, and one hundred years later, Walnut Capital is renewing that tradition


Ahlir

Private Message

Aug 16 2013 at 9:28pm #

The Waterfront is convenient for many of us. You don’t have to trek out to Monroeville to shop, at least for smaller things if you’re on a bike.

The bulk of the development (and the revenue) is in Homestead. West Homestead has the chunk from the (private) “town square” downstream. Munhall gets the upstream bit, including the Best Buy.

I don’t see how writing cyclist tickets @$10 a shot generates any useful revenue. It’s more likely a cost. So I expect that WH was responding to pressure from Costco. (I hope that the developer was not the intermediary for this; they have way more power.)

The solution is to have real traffic control (i.e. lights) at the Costco “driveway” (more accurately a privately owned street). This is really a development-level issue . Note that there’s a new owner for the development and presumably it’s their legal responsibility to deal with this stuff.

Or, we can all just take the street.


salty

Private Message

Aug 16 2013 at 11:50pm #

Is it a privately owned street? Who maintains it? I mean the main road through the place, is that really the developer or is it a public street? If it’s the former then why is the Homestead PD even involved? If it’s the latter then why should it be allowed to defy the right of way rules that exist everywhere else that give pedestrians the right of way at crosswalks?


ultimattfrisbee

Private Message

Aug 17 2013 at 8:55am #

Had to lecture a motorist on Waterfront Drive yesterday. Was using the road heading toward the trail at Costco. Had just passed one of the offices on the right (maybe the Allegheny Intermediate Unit–before the Eat n Park, anyway) when a woman made a right turn out of a parking lot. I knew she was trouble because she blared her horn at me as soon as she was on the roadway, at least 40 or 50 feet behind me. I was not taking the entire lane (I probably will in the future). Instead, I was cycling as far right as practicable, as required by law. This meant about a foot or so to the left of the concrete shoulder, which is really just an extension of the curb into the street. I was maintaining a good pace–probably about 17-18 mph. In other words, I was being very considerate of drivers, sharing the road responsibly.

I checked my mirror to see if there was something amiss, and she was still behind me. A few seconds later, she passed me with about a foot of clearance. I’m not too freaked out by close passes–I’m used to them–and while I deserve 4 feet, if a driver slows down to about 10 mph, I can live with a couple feet, but this was 1 foot and she did not slow at all. She buzzed me.

I caught her at the light. I did not curse at her or scream at her, but I’m sure my tone of voice conveyed displeasure. Her window was open.

“Ma’am, do we have a problem? You could have killed me with that stunt!”

“You weren’t far enough over!” she yelled, pointing at the curb.

“I absolutely was. And I’m entitled to the entire lane if I think I need it to be safe.” She then pulled away at the green light. I caught her at the next red. Her window was up now.

“Do you know the law? Do you know anything about the law in this state about cars and bicycles? I am allowed to use this road and can use the whole lane and you have to give me 4 feet when you pass! I’m telling you because, if you keep this up, you will kill or hurt someone and you will be legally wrong and you could get arrested or sued. What you did was wrong, mean, aggressive, unnecessary, stupid, dangerous and illegal…” I don’t think she heard the last two or three adjectives. The light turned green and she turned left into the entrance at Dave and Busters or thereabouts, and I didn’t want to be late to the Pirates game, so I didn’t chase after her to continue the conversation, such as it was.

Foolishly, I forgot to get her license plate number.

But I think I should mention it to the West Homestead Police, and let them know that, if they’re going to be handing out tickets and warnings for people running stop signs in front of Costco and the hotels, I certainly hope they will be paying attention to drivers endangering cyclists with aggressive and illegal behavior on Waterfront Drive.

If they want to know why I didn’t use the trail, I might ask them if they ask drivers on Waterfront Drive why they’re not using 8th Avenue. There are two routes I’m allowed to use. I was going somewhere and was on a schedule. It’s not safe or, I think, permitted, to bike at 18 mph on the trail. There are people there with kids, walking dogs, etc…, so I used the road. That’s my right and I didn’t do it to prove a point. I did it because it made sense. I might also mention that why I was using the road is irrelevant to the law. I was operating my vehicle legally and safely. She wasn’t, and if it keeps up, they’re going to be scraping one of us off the roadway. I don’t think they want that.

Anyone have experience talking to the West Homestead Police about this. Annoyed as I am, I would certainly be polite and respectful as long as they were professional, I know that, but beyond that, is there someone in particular I should approach?


mlinwood25

Private Message

Aug 17 2013 at 9:11am #

cburch wrote:they are. they let (well-off, white) people from the east end get into and out of the shopping area directly from the bridge so they don’t have to interact with the (low-income, mostly black) community around it. to the average shopper it feels like a suburban shopping center that just happens to be right down the street.

that’s also why it doesn’t do a damn thing for the communities it sits inside.

Wow. Your assessment of the area beyond the Waterfront is pretty effed up and ignorant. Its not Squirrel Hill in household income for sure, but its also not “low-income, mostly black” either. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with it if it was, but you are clearly making a lot of assumptions about the place that are not based on any sort of facts at all. What exactly are you basing those statements on?

Do you know anything about the financial situation/demographics of Munhall, West Homestead and Homestead (the three boroughs that the Waterfront sits on) from 1984-1999? Those three communities were worse than dead during that time after the Homestead Works closed. The Waterfront retail development hasn’t made up for the high paying jobs and tax revenue that a huge steel mill provided, but the money generated there has helped that community out considerably since those businesses opened. That whole area was brownfield for nearly 20 years. Now people work and buy stuff there. Real estate taxes are being paid, etc. That’s doing more than “a damn thing” for the community. In fact, I would argue it saved those places. The development hasn’t done much of anything for 8th avenue, but there wasn’t much going on there before the Waterfront got there either.

Also, before Look at the census data from 2010…there are 16,500 people that live in those three towns, and about 12,700 of those people are white…about the same demographic split (white/nonwhite) as the 15217 zip code (Squirrel Hill).


jonawebb

Private Message

Aug 18 2013 at 6:26pm #

@mw, agree. Homestead was in Act 47 prior to the development of the Waterfront, which generates $6 million/year in income to the city. Land values have risen, there’s been a lot of other development in the city, etc. And what was there before, the ruins of a steel mill, was an eyesore as well as an environment hazard.
But there’s no question the development is too car-centric. Acres of parking lots separate the housing from the retail, which is mostly big box suburban-style stores. And one tiny road connects Homestead to the Waterfront. So it could have been a lot better.


rsprake

Private Message

Aug 19 2013 at 10:14am #

mlinwood25 wrote:The development hasn’t done much of anything for 8th avenue, but there wasn’t much going on there before the Waterfront got there either.

Smoke and Tin Front Cafe seem to be doing ok. I don’t know that they would be there if not for the waterfront.


jonawebb

Private Message

Aug 19 2013 at 10:22am #

ultimattfrisbee wrote:And I’m entitled to the entire lane if I think I need it to be safe.

No. Forest Hills police and the District Magistrate there disagree, but you’re entitled to the right lane (on a multi-lane road), period. There’s no qualification. PA 3301(c) states, in part:
“Upon all roadways, any pedalcycle operating in accordance with
Chapter 35, proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…”
Note the ‘or’. You are entitled to take the right lane.


ultimattfrisbee

Private Message

Aug 19 2013 at 11:29am #

jonawebb wrote:

ultimattfrisbee wrote:And I’m entitled to the entire lane if I think I need it to be safe.

No. Forest Hills police and the District Magistrate there disagree, but you’re entitled to the right lane (on a multi-lane road), period. There’s no qualification. PA 3301(c) states, in part:
“Upon all roadways, any pedalcycle operating in accordance with
Chapter 35, proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…”
Note the ‘or’. You are entitled to take the right lane.

Not sure we disagree. I never meant to suggest I was entitled to the entire road, just the right lane, which I apparently am. Am I missing something? I know I’m allowed in the left lane if I am going to make a left turn, but aside from that, I know I’m not supposed to be in the left lane.


jonawebb

Private Message

Aug 19 2013 at 11:33am #

@uf, my only point is that you don’t have to qualify your taking the right lane by saying “if I think I need it to be safe”. You’re entitled to the right lane, period.


ultimattfrisbee

Private Message

Aug 19 2013 at 11:39am #

jonawebb wrote:@uf, my only point is that you don’t have to qualify your taking the right lane by saying “if I think I need it to be safe”. You’re entitled to the right lane, period.

Got it now. You’re quite right: there is no reason for me to qualify the statement.

What’s the reference to Forest Hills police and District Magistrate? Have they been interpreting things differently (or just ignoring the law)? Do tell.


jonawebb

Private Message

Aug 19 2013 at 12:01pm #

I was ticketed there for taking the lane as I’ve been discussing in another thread. The DM found me guilty, and now I have to appeal.


Kordite

Private Message

Aug 29 2013 at 9:37am #

At about 6 this morning, I pulled into the Pump House and started unloading my bike ‘nat for my daily commute. A Munhall police car pulled into the lot and then drove behind the pump house. In the 5 minutes or so that it took me to get going, the vehicle failed to emerge from the other side. Nor was there any evidence that the officer was patrolling or investigating the building with either flashlight, spotlight or by exiting the vehicle and walking around the building.

I wonder what’s with that?


jonawebb

Private Message

Aug 29 2013 at 9:47am #

@Kordite, time for a nap!


Steven

Private Message

Aug 29 2013 at 11:31am #

They’re waiting to see if the strikers come back. It’s been about 120 years, so they could return any time.

That or donuts.


Pierce

Private Message

Aug 29 2013 at 11:36am #

Cops have to do an insane amount of paperwork. Maybe he was getting caught up on some


Kordite

Private Message

Aug 29 2013 at 12:54pm #

“Cops have to do an insane amount of paperwork. Maybe he was getting caught up on some”. . . in the dark. . . behind a rarely used building. . . where no one can see.

Viewing 40 posts - 41 through 80 (of 84 total)
 

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.