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Process to petition city to install certain bike lanes?

This topic contains 19 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Lee 9 mos, 2 weeks.

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atown

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Jul 4 2013 at 12:26pm #

Hi all,

This is my first post here. My daily ride requires riding Forbes west into Squirrel Hill. There’s a bike lane for most of the road coming from Braddock past Frick Park, but it ends abruptly at the bus stop a little east of Forbes and Dallas.

From there, Forbes turns into two lanes, with the left lane being for forward and left-turning traffic, and the right lane being used for right turns. The incline of the road also increases substantially here.

In all my time of riding here, including during tunnel repairs, I’ve never seen the westbound direction on Forbes backed up with traffic too badly. I think continuing the bike lane past the Dallas intersection and turning the right turn lane into a bike lane would significantly reduce the risk of an accident in this section of the road. The bike lane could end somewhere near Shady Ave, where traffic slows down and becomes safer. I consider myself a proficient cyclist, and even though this is a really short section of road, I really think it could use an extension of the bike lane for a couple blocks.

Does anyone have suggestions on who to contact on how to get the ball rolling for this process? I realize it won’t be an overnight process, but I’d like to think that something could eventually be done.

Here is what I’m talking about: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=forbes+and+dallas&hl=en&ll=40.438406,-79.911268&spn=0.009456,0.01929&sll=41.117935,-77.604698&sspn=4.758234,9.876709&hnear=Forbes+Ave+%26+S+Dallas+Ave,+Pittsburgh,+Allegheny,+Pennsylvania+15217&t=m&z=16&iwloc=A

So if you are unfamiliar with this road: there is a bike line on the long stretch of Forbes going west, where cars are routinely going 50 mph (in a 35 mph zone) past you. The dedicated bike lane abruptly ends here and the road suddenly starts to go up-hill, while cars (if they see a green light) will often continue the 50 mph speed until they are closer to Shady Ave.

  • This topic was modified 9 mos, 3 weeks ago by  atown.

stefb

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Jul 4 2013 at 1:59pm #

On a similar note,
How do we get signs saying “must give 4 feet when passing cyclists” or something similar. The “share the road” signs aren’t cutting it.


Ahlir

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Jul 4 2013 at 2:06pm #

I agree that Forbes between Braddock and Beechwood is a problem.

Goiing uphill you might consider a right on Dallas and then left Aylesboro. This will eventually get you to Forbes at Schenley Park. The grade is more forgiving.

But I agree that this stretch of road is a mess. Enforcing speed limits might be a good start.


Steven

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Jul 4 2013 at 3:38pm #

It couldn’t hurt to submit your request via 311. But I imagine Bike Pittsburgh has been asking the city to do just that ever since they got the city to paint the bike lane in the first place.

You could email the Bike Pittsburgh staff and ask them what the hold-up is, and what they recommend as far as citizens helping to push the process along. (For instance, if it’s an issue with PennDOT, contacting your state rep might help.)


salty

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Jul 4 2013 at 11:51pm #

That whole area is like a crappy road design hall of fame. Unfortunately I think “high speed highway” is pretty much the effect they were shooting for.


scott

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Jul 5 2013 at 8:58am #

Hi @atown. Thanks for posting. Welcome to the message board.

To be clear, there isn’t a “hold up” per se on getting the bike lane extended. The traffic engineer who stamped these designs was willing to narrow two of the lanes down to 10 feet and the middle lanes down to 11 feet in order to make room for bike lanes where there previously weren’t any. But, she wanted make sure there were still turning lanes at more highly traveled intersections for cars hence why the lanes are dropped for sharrows. We’re not endorsing that specific design, but at the time were fine with it in order to get a foot hold. In fact this is exactly how we envisioned this process going over time: get what we can installed, and then get citizens to help us advocate for even better designs going forward.

It would definitely help to petition to get this done, but I would do this not through 311, but through Councilman O’Connor’s office and cc Bill Peduto since he is most likely to be our future mayor. You can also cc Pat Hassett who is in charge of the Bureau for Transportation Engineering at DPW. I would also mention that the design of the bike facilities at the other end towards S. Braddock also need to be reworked.


byogman

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Jul 5 2013 at 9:15am #

There’s a certain feeling of cruelty when you lose your bike lane just where it starts to get steeper. The volume traffic in the left/straight lane plus the hill makes it hard not to feel forced into the turn lane at Beachwood. Staying there and turning right, cutting back left at Aylesboro is always a bail option if you’re not comfortable merging into the non-turning lane. But if you find yourself geting resigned to it the earlier turn-off Ahlir suggested is probably better still.

I tend to start signaling over to the left somewhat before the intersection at Beachwood. I usually make my way over without trouble, but motorists generally aren’t happy with a bike getting in front of them just before a little uphill and when the traffic is thicker it can be somewhat uncomfortable. One of the places it really feels better to have a mirror.

One thing I do wonder about, since these transitions are inevitable… are there best practices we can advocate for and follow in this city about how to demarcate the end of a bike lane in ways motorists might pay more attention to? The thing that occurred to me that would be obvious at least was an extension of the solid line for the bike lane angling in and becoming dashed line with a bike decal painted atop.


scott

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Jul 5 2013 at 10:36am #

One of the things we’re pushing for going forward are better intersection treatments and things like green lanes. We’ve never done sharrows on a swath of green paint to date, but other cities like SLC and Long Beach (I believe) have done this type of marking. I like how NYC puts more chevron markings through intersections where bikes are tracking.


byogman

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Jul 5 2013 at 5:44pm #

I would never do this or recommend this mind you, but this thread and some random googling later in the day I accidentally found my way to something that put a devious smile on my face before I had to shake it off and sigh.

Specifically found this mount for chalk to draw while riding. Not sure I’d do a great designs, but I can ride straight well enough :)


StuInMcCandless

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Jul 5 2013 at 7:39pm #

That 0.2 mile of Forbes is similar to the 0.2 mile of Perry Highway in West View going north from Center Ave: Only one traffic lane after Beechwood, posted 25, noplace to get over.

Take the lane. Never mind the horns. Let them all get in line behind you going 8 mph. Don’t even hammer up the hill at 100%, though make it clear you’re trying. OTOH, don’t dart in front of anyone. Just make it perfectly clear that you’re fully in the lane, on purpose, and are not going to “get out of the way”.

When enough cyclists do this, enough hell will be raised that something will be done.

On Perry, there are usually enough parking spaces that I can duck in to catch my breath, so I don’t have to climb the whole quarter mile from Center to Chalfonte Ave.

StreetView of the section in question on Forbes.
StreetView of the section in question in West View.


Italianblend

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Jul 6 2013 at 4:51am #

If there’s lots of traffic here, I just take the sidewalk up to Beechwood. I know, I know, that is not acceptable. But it’s just fine. It’s only for a few blocks. This road is on my commute to work and I have had no issues with using this sidewalk during heavy traffic. When the bike lane ends, there is a sidewalk enterance near that gate to the cemetery.


edmonds59

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Jul 6 2013 at 5:37am #

Italianblend wrote:I just take the sidewalk up to Beechwood. I know, I know, that is not acceptable. But it’s just fine….

I think it’s perfectly acceptable in that stretch. It’s legal, as that section is not a “business district” under the definition of the law. At this point in time, while there are still motorists out there who seem to think it’s acceptable to run down cyclists, do what you need to do to not get killed. You’re riding, that’s what counts.


mboyd

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Jul 6 2013 at 5:21pm #

stefb wrote:On a similar note,
How do we get signs saying “must give 4 feet when passing cyclists” or something similar. The “share the road” signs aren’t cutting it.

On this front, these signs can been seen pretty regularly in Murraysville (they have a diagram with a car, bike, and buffer area). Take a ride out there and check them out!


jonawebb

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Jul 6 2013 at 8:05pm #

When I ride that way (usually I cut over to the bike lane on Beechwood but sometimes I need to pick up something on the way home) I just take the lane. The sharrows explicitly suggest it, given their position, it’s completely legal since Forbes is multi-lane, and motorists mostly respond appropriately. Sometimes I get a honk. No big deal.


Ahlir

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Jul 6 2013 at 9:18pm #

I did the climb from Braddock to [Denniston] this afternoon. Granted, rush-hour traffic was not an issue. I did take the lane from Dallas to Beechwood and felt safe, even with traffic passing me. Even the bus behind me dealt with it (yr mileage will vary, of course). That stretch could use sharrows, though.

Remember, you are are PA-legal vehicle and have complete rights to a lane. Pretend you were a dump-truck, or cop car. Would anyone dare complain? You’re no different (legally).

Re sharrows: shouldn’t every single stretch of 4-lane road in Pittsburgh (w/o a bike lane) have the right lanes sharrowed as a matter of course? What’s the big deal?


StuInMcCandless

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Jul 7 2013 at 1:46am #

I used to ride with a blaze orange vest on all the time. Occasionally still do, but it’s rare. I suppose it’s daunting to get out in traffic, especially for newcomers. I’ve gotten bolder over the years, developed from practice and self-confidence.

I do nothing foolish, and try to be beyond reproach in adherence to the rules when in mixed traffic, but this is a learned art. We’re here to learn.


jonawebb

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Jul 8 2013 at 8:52am #

Ahlir wrote:Remember, you are are PA-legal vehicle and have complete rights to a lane

This is not quite true. You have complete rights to ride on the roads, other than restricted-access, but the rules are different for bicycles, as they should be, since bicycles are so different from cars. You are supposed to ride in the right lane in a multi-lane road, except when turning left, and should stay to the right on a two lane road with wide lanes. See PA 3301(c).
The road in question, Forbes between Homewood Cemetery and Denniston, is multi-lane and you have a legal right to take the right lane. This is also the safest way to ride on that stretch.


Lee

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Jul 8 2013 at 10:24am #

I always wonder about that law in regards to the door zone. Ride away from parked cars and you’re in the middle of the lane just waiting for the buzzes and screams of overstressed cagers, because they don’t understand it’s dangerous to ride that close on a bike. I usually find it’s easier to just risk getting doored unless I’m going fast than deal with pissed motorists who don’t know why I don’t get over more. I know that it should fall under the part about lane position and safety, but tell that to the motorists. I honestly think they’re oblivious to this danger and think we’re just trying to make them mad.


jonawebb

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Jul 8 2013 at 10:36am #

@Lee, there’s no question that you’re legally allowed to as well as supposed to ride outside the door zone. I know motorists get upset, but they have so very many frustrations and inadequacies to deal with, it’s not surprising. When they honk, at least you know that they see you, and if they were going to run you down, they probably wouldn’t honk first.


Lee

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Jul 8 2013 at 1:17pm #

@jonawebb

What you say makes total sense. I often feel more like a protester than a commuter when I bike. If only my accelerated heartrate could always be attributed to how hard I’m pedaling! Great thread though. Squirrel Hill bike routes are near and dear to me since I’ve lived there for 6 years.

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