BikePGH!

The bike lanes are useless

This topic contains 40 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  paulheckbert 5 mos, 2 weeks.

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stefb

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Feb 9 2014 at 7:48am #

Yes, I am bringing this topic up again, because I am displeased. Look at Liberty Avenue. With the cars parked to the right of the bike lane dragging snow and ice across it, and the city not plowing next to these cars, the bike lanes are non-existent. Even on a nice summer day, they are in the door zone, the white paint doesn’t act as some magical barrier that cars won’t cross (like the double yellow does), and it does not encourage drivers to give 4 feet to pass. We all know this.

It is not an ideal design and I am sure bike Pgh probably tried to have the city take out parking or put the bike lanes next to the curb. I am not blaming bike Pgh here. Is there any hope that with new people in charge that we can get some safe, protected bike lanes somewhere? I think the sharrows do more good than bike lames.


rsprake

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Feb 9 2014 at 9:37am #

311 your request for them to care for the bike lanes during plowing and make sure Bill Peduto’s office hears about it. He listens on Twitter.

http://pittsburghpa.gov/311/form/


gg

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Feb 9 2014 at 10:20am #

This has been a tough winter. The conditions are pretty icy and it is hard for people driving to see the curbs well and they aren’t having all that easy of a time parking. I was in Lawrenceville with my car and parked on a sheet of ice, walked on a sheet of ice on the sidewalk and entered a restaurant. It is just a mess for everyone. I don’t think bicycle lanes are “useless”, but in the current conditions pretty much everything is a mess. My commute across the Highland Park Bridge is a walking commute, unless I take the lane, which I really don’t want to do considering people drive 70 mph and slam on their brakes at the last second to go around the curve at the end.

You bring up an interesting point though. Can a bike lane be next to the sidewalk and cars park away from the curb? I think we wouldn’t be able to ride next to the curb right now due to ice and mess. Even with studded tires, I doubt one could pull it off due to massive ruts and footprints that would suck your tires in. If you feel otherwise, educate me.


srpit

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Feb 9 2014 at 10:35am #

Um… Wouldn’t we still have a door zone issue on the passenger side? I can see pros and cons for this design though.


salty

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Feb 9 2014 at 11:04am #

It is not a mess for cars, the rest of the street is clear. It is a mess for cyclists and pedestrians because no one gives enough of a shit to plow the bike lanes or enforce the sidewalk shoveling ordinance. I certainly hope for some improvement under Peduto, and I’m willing to be patient, but so far I haven’t seen any action or even concrete statements about what he is planning to do.

If it’s any consolation, pedestrians are getting shafted way worse than cyclists.


edmonds59

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Feb 9 2014 at 11:18am #

A door zone on the passenger side is still not ideal, however, it does eliminate the worst case scenario where you get doored and then fall under the wheels of an oncoming vehicle in the driving lane.


salty

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Feb 9 2014 at 11:58am #

You can put a curb there to mitigate the risk somewhat.


stefb

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Feb 9 2014 at 12:32pm #

Buffer between the parking spots and bike lane would be good, but even better: no parking. People will still pull over into a bike lane and anyway, as they do between 4-6pm on blvd of the allies if there is no separated lane. While it is true that the cyclist would probably be in a passenger door zone, most cars hold single passengers, and riding to the right next to a curb is probably safer than riding on the left side of the bike lane next to passing traffic.
Salty does make a good point that the conditions remain atrocious for pedestrians.


Pierce

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Feb 9 2014 at 12:42pm #

Wouldn’t cyclists be more likely to get hit from a right turn while going through intersections if the bike lane is obscured by a line of parked cars. Similar situation to riding on sidewalks


stefb

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Feb 9 2014 at 2:31pm #

The city would have to enforce the laws where people aren’t allowed to park cars right next to corners of intersections.


buffalo buffalo

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Feb 10 2014 at 1:32pm #

stefb wrote:The city would have to enforce the laws where people aren’t allowed to park cars right next to corners of intersections.

lolololol

(but seriously, it’s illegal to park within 30 feet of the near side of a controlled intersection, or 20 feet of any other intersection.)


andyc

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Feb 10 2014 at 1:42pm #

If there were a small curb between the passenger door and bike lane as depicted in the image above and that curb ended 20 feet prior to the intersection, it would be very obvious where parking is and is not allowed. (Curb = park, no curb = no parking)

This would work for longer stretches of road with more space in between intersections but doesn’t help with driveways. (The picture illustrates this as well.)

My least favorite bike lane is around Friendship Parklet. That one is an excellent example of a poorly implemented bike lane and should just be painted over IMO.


rgrasmus

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Feb 10 2014 at 5:53pm #

stefb wrote:Buffer between the parking spots and bike lane would be good, but even better: no parking.

Agreed! They should get rid of street parking on Ellsworth. The majority of it is all residential with driveways. Yet everyone parks on the street. It makes no sense unless I’m missing something.


Kordite

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Feb 11 2014 at 7:03am #

Putting the bike lane between the parking lane and the curb will make it even less likely that it will be plowed or cleaned. Adding a second curb even more so. Remember that those places that do have bike lanes between parking and the curb also have plows and street cleaners specifically tasked to clearing those lanes.


gg

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Feb 11 2014 at 9:55am #

Kordite wrote:Putting the bike lane between the parking lane and the curb will make it even less likely that it will be plowed or cleaned. Adding a second curb even more so. Remember that those places that do have bike lanes between parking and the curb also have plows and street cleaners specifically tasked to clearing those lanes.

I agree. Not a good idea. There is too much debris in that area as well. People would park by the curb anyway. The bike lanes are in the best place and are a great welcome. This winter is a tough one. Not much anyone can do about it since the city is in massive debt just like all cities in the US. The Highland Park Bridge sidewalk will be an icy mess for a very long time. Just gotta leave earlier to work so I can walk it or ride on the road, which I just don’t want to do anymore. Safety > a few minutes Choose your routes wisely and just leave more time if at all possible.


jonawebb

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Feb 11 2014 at 10:11am #

@gg, they can certainly go back and plow the lanes at some point. The lanes never get plowed, even days after the roads are clear. The snowplow drivers just think that’s where the snow is supposed to go. (Which is maybe the design — to some extent — obviously they shouldn’t plow it onto the sidewalk.)
And I don’t think the city is even in massive debt anymore, in the operating budget.


gg

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Feb 11 2014 at 11:00am #

Jon, I really don’t know where they can put the snow? You have a bike lane, a row of cars and a sidewalk. Cars are parked there, so they can’t really plow on top of them, even though many might want that. Our city is old, so we don’t have very wide roads to begin with. It isn’t like Boulder or a western city that is newer and planned differently. It is a tough job and for the most part, I think BikePgh has done a lot as well as Friends of the RF. Lets face it, this winter has been a tough one on pedestrians and cyclists.

One thing that grinds my gears quite a bit is how the PennDot trucks will have the Highland Park Bridge cleared, but they want to plow that tiny bit on the very side of the road out of boredom. Guess where all that mess ends up? Right on the sidewalk. If they would just leave that little bit on the side of the road to melt, the sidewalk wouldn’t be nearly as bad as it is now. It is like a glacier and that kind of mess takes forever to melt. Might be there till the end of March.

Anyway, good luck out there.


jonawebb

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Feb 11 2014 at 11:29am #

On Forbes between Braddock and Dallas the lanes could easily be plowed outbound, since the snow could be pushed over the curb. There’s no sidewalk there. Inbound, there is a sidewalk, but I would expect that at least half of the bike lane could be cleared without creating a hazard for the pedestrians.
Even in East Liberty I would expect you could clear most of the bike lane, dumping the snow at the end of the parking area — or, horrors, maybe using up a parking space now and then.
But I don’t think trying to find a place to put the snow even comes up for the snowplow drivers — the bike lanes are there for that purpose.


buffalo buffalo

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Feb 11 2014 at 11:48am #

Note that in other cities, if enough snow falls that it has to be plowed, they restrict parking, along the lines of the street-sweeping limits, in order to be able to plow the entire width of the roadway.

In other cities, of course, the City actually plows the sidewalks, so…

(Related: https://twitter.com/transitized/status/425446456606986241 )


stefb

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Feb 11 2014 at 1:42pm #

Yes this comes back to the whole car culture winning. There needs to be less of a “need” for cars. Then people may not be up in arms about taking away parking and putting in better infrastructure and making it a point to have sidewalks cleared.

Other cities have these separated bike lanes and I suspect that they get cleaned somehow, and probably need cleaning less often anyway.

I would love to see lanes of traffic taken away. Why does pen have two lanes through point breeze? I wonder if traffic got so bad around here that more people would use public transit, if public transit was easily accessible. But that is another tangent.

I have noticed that the jail trail got plowed to a certain point fairly quickly after the last round of snow, so that was great. There is still a problem by the parking garage/jail. That is never touched. They did take the time to put a sign with an arrow going outbound that I think is supposed to detour you off of the trail for a bit?


cburch

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Feb 11 2014 at 1:55pm #

buffalo buffalo wrote:Note that in other cities, if enough snow falls that it has to be plowed, they restrict parking, along the lines of the street-sweeping limits, in order to be able to plow the entire width of the roadway.

In other cities, of course, the City actually plows the sidewalks, so…

(Related: https://twitter.com/transitized/status/425446456606986241 )

yes. i grew up in one of the snowiest large cities in the country (a city just about as old as this one, with similarly narrow streets) and alternate parking was strictly enforced. they also have tree lawns on all the sidewalks (not any wider than our sidewalks either, just one less section of pavement on the outside) even in business districts, which not only gives the plows a place for the snow, but helps with groundwater runoff and flooding in the spring since the snow can melt right down into the grass and dirt. also, the fact that streets were actually plowed meant way less salt was needed and refreezing wasn’t nearly as much of an issue.

its not that it can’t be done. its that people are a bunch of spoiled babies who don’t want to change.


Ahlir

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Feb 11 2014 at 7:59pm #

BSNYC confronts the
winter bike path


Mikhail

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Feb 12 2014 at 7:44am #

They carry snow out of city very often in Russia


KBrooks

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Feb 12 2014 at 1:50pm #

Put in a 311 about the bike lanes on Forbes through Frick Park… hardly the most pressing, but I was curious if there would be a different response under Peduto.


Pierce

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Feb 12 2014 at 3:49pm #

Well, this made me feel slightly better:

http://bikeportland.org/2014/02/11/mix-of-snow-slush-and-ice-make-for-tricky-biking-conditions-101277?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BikePortland+%28BikePortland.org%29

Even in the land of many separated bike lanes, they’re still getting screwed during bad weather


richierich

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Feb 12 2014 at 4:22pm #

I’m as annoyed as anyone else about the lack of effort put to keep walking and biking safe and convenient during the winter, especially given all the commotion in the news every day about motorists being slowed (personally it pleases me to see people forced to drive 10 mph and look frightened for a change…). It makes my blood boil that people can’t simply walk in safety right now.

But let’s face it, we got a new mayor in the middle of an unusually rough winter, and that winter is going to end soon (thank goodness). I don’t think there’s much hope that the city will revamp their winter policies at this point, and it’s also too late for any kind of education or enforcement campaign for the sidewalks.

I think the best thing to do is make this a priority for next year, and get the city motivated and prepared for next year before the problems come back. Hand over some kind of statement / petition / constructive suggestions in summer or fall, so that when next winter hits there can already be a plan for dealing with the snow.

For example, there could be public announcements and mailings in the fall highlighting snow removal regulations, helpful tips, and meaningful penalties for non-compliance. There would be time to secure equipment for treating paths. It might even be worth kicking in money for such things via BikePgh or as individuals, because the value of our bike infrastructure is greatly diminished when many can’t use it for a full third of the year.

In the short term, maybe we should start taking pictures of the worst stretches of sidewalks and messy bike lanes and make some kind of collage or photo gallery to use as evidence. Bonus points for places where you’ve actually fallen.


jonawebb

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Feb 12 2014 at 4:34pm #

@rr, no, it’s really possible to fix this, at least in certain areas. If enough people contact their city council rep and complain about the bike lanes (especially if they are constituents of the representative), they’ll get someone out there to plow them. It really can happen.
You’re right, they’re not going to change their policy, but complaining citizens can get stuff done. I’ve gotten the bike lanes on Forbes between Braddock and Dallas swept clean on more than one occasion just by being an ass about it (well, OK, I was really nice, but persistent). It’s definitely possible to get the snow plows out, too.


rgrasmus

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Feb 12 2014 at 4:36pm #

richierich wrote:I’m as annoyed as anyone else about the lack of effort put to keep walking and biking safe and convenient during the winter, especially given all the commotion in the news every day about motorists being slowed

This video will probably make you more upset

Personally, I’ve been filling in a lot of 311 forms to report businesses and homeowners that do not clear their sidewalks after the 24hr period. I’m hoping that this will give them the message to maintain the sidewalks regularly afterwards.


richierich

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Feb 12 2014 at 4:47pm #

jonawebb wrote:@rr, no, it’s really possible to fix this, at least in certain areas. If enough people contact their city council rep and complain about the bike lanes (especially if they are constituents of the representative), they’ll get someone out there to plow them. It really can happen.
You’re right, they’re not going to change their policy, but complaining citizens can get stuff done. I’ve gotten the bike lanes on Forbes between Braddock and Dallas swept clean on more than one occasion just by being an ass about it (well, OK, I was really nice, but persistent). It’s definitely possible to get the snow plows out, too.

That’s encouraging, but I’ve put in 311 complaints all winter long, countless times, about the same dangerous sidewalks and seen only small improvement. And we shouldn’t have to spend all our time complaining about dangerous situations in the first place. I think for at least some of these problems policy change is needed, and a more formal group effort would be more likely to get such changes. We have a new and supposedly progressive mayor, why not think big and mount some pressure? Isn’t it better to solve things once and for all instead of over and over, little by little?


jonawebb

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Feb 12 2014 at 6:01pm #

@rr,, I agree we need policy changes. But you’d be surprised how much good reaching out to city council can do. (When 311 doesn’t work.)


rgrasmus

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Feb 12 2014 at 6:32pm #

jonawebb wrote:@rr,, I agree we need policy changes. But you’d be surprised how much good reaching out to city council can do. (When 311 doesn’t work.)

Agreed – I reached out on Twitter to Dan Gilman (District 8) about the car detailing place on Ellsworth not cleaning their sidewalks (guess they don’t get many walk-ins) and it was cleared later that day.

https://twitter.com/rgrasmus/status/427817420032864257


salty

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Feb 12 2014 at 8:58pm #

I agree wholeheartedly, and I’ve probably twitterbombed my way into getting ignored, most of the responses I’ve had to pedestrian issues have been essentially brush-offs. Dan Gilman seems to care a little more, but he wanted me to email him addresses of places for him to send the inspectors. I guess I should do it, but ratting out my neighbors makes me feel uneasy. And, it’s completely unnecessary – the inspectors could drive down any street they’d like and the limiting factor would be how quickly they could write citations, now how long it would take them to find violations.

But, I would love to see a more concerted campaign, I mostly feel all alone. Not just snow on the sidewalks, but the horrible pedestrian signals and aggressive drivers that make it difficult to cross the road.


jonawebb

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Feb 13 2014 at 8:26am #

Well, American politics sort of works by satisfying different constituencies. Pedestrians want to use the sidewalks, so there’s a law that they should be kept clean. But home and business owners don’t like to do the work to clean them, so the law goes mostly unenforced. So unless people object, contact their council person, show up at council meetings to complain, etc., things stay that way. When enough people show they really care, the balance will shift the other way.
I’m sorry it works this way, but that’s the country we live in. We have way more laws than get enforced. Traffic laws are a prime example. It is relatively easy to get a law passed in this country.
Other countries don’t do this — try riding your bike the wrong way up a one way street in Germany — but we do. It’s a compromise between people who really think folks should be left alone, and people who think folks need to be told how to live their lives.


richierich

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Feb 13 2014 at 9:24am #

jonawebb wrote:
It’s a compromise between people who really think folks should be left alone, and people who think folks need to be told how to live their lives.

I don’t think the notion that government shouldn’t impede liberty is any excuse for our current “compromise” – if anything, the opposite. What greater limit on individual freedom than a system that makes it difficult or impossible to walk through one’s community, arguably the most basic human activity and something people have an undeniable right to do without serious risk of harm? It’s an inconvenience and modest risk of harm for me because I’m young and healthy and can take a fall now and again, but not all are so lucky.

Individual liberty is only consistent when it’s limited by not infringing on others’ liberty, and it’s just nonsense to compare having to shovel with not being able to walk or needing extra hours of one’s time to do so. And if having to shovel is considered too substantial an intrusion into people’s personal lives, those public rights-of-way should be taken care of by the government just like public roads.


rgrasmus

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Feb 13 2014 at 9:41am #

salty wrote:I guess I should do it, but ratting out my neighbors makes me feel uneasy.

I hear you on this. The only non-business I have ratted out is this guy who during the summer regularly caulks the expansion joints in the sidewalks. On the days he does this, he puts up signs around the sidewalk to tell people not to walk on the sidewalk and aggressively yells at people who ignore it. My feeling is that if he cares that much about “his” sidewalk, it shouldn’t be an inch thick layer of ice during the winter.

I had an idea last night to improve enforcement and actual removal. If someone other than the property owner provides evidence that they removed the snow themselves sometime 24 hours after a snowfall, the owner is fined and the person who cleaned it gets half the fine.


Mikhail

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Feb 13 2014 at 3:05pm #

rgrasmus wrote:My feeling is that if he cares that much about “his” sidewalk, it shouldn’t be an inch thick layer of ice during the winter.

Actually inch (or 4 inches) thick layer of ice helps to preserve sidewalk. :) What really kills sidewalk is multiple freeze-defreeze. And salt just makes is worse.


StuInMcCandless

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Feb 13 2014 at 8:01pm #

I said this in a tweet a couple weeks ago. Worth repeating here.

@ScottKCMO @kclightrail What someone should do is start shoveling, then send a tweet billing for svcs after ea address, w/"Pay up!"— Stuart Strickland (@bus15237) January 9, 2014


salty

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Feb 13 2014 at 9:21pm #

I don’t know if anyone is *really* looking at this thing, but can’t hurt to add your $0.02 here: http://talent-city.com/ClearSnow


paulheckbert

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Feb 13 2014 at 10:39pm #

Ahlir wrote:BSNYC confronts the
winter bike path

@ahlir’s link was bad; I think he meant this http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-indignity-of-commuting-by-bicycle.html


pbeaves

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Feb 14 2014 at 12:08am #

the birmingham bridge bike lanes are where they dumped the snow.
the road was plowed up to the traffic edge of the lane & the rest of it was untouched,
even though they could have easily plowed atleast half of the bike lane while still
leaving enough room for roadside snow accumulation.
But they didn’t.

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