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Allegheny Center

Proposals to make the Allegheny Center ring road ("Allegheny Commons") two-way are finally getting far enough to have a public meeting and talk about them! Via email from the North Side Leadership Conference:
The reconfiguration of the 4-lane “moat road” around Allegheny Center and reconnection of the east-west street grid through Allegheny Center along the original Ohio St have been longstanding goals of the member community groups of the Northside. While the through street will take some years to plan, fund and execute, the moat road reconfiguration is achievable in the near term. The City will present plans for the moat road changes at a community meeting [at Alloy 26 in Nova Place] on JUN 22 at 6PM. This is open to the public. Folks will have an opportunity to see plan drawings and hear a presentation of the proposed approach. MOST IMPORTANTLY, folks will be able to ask questions and to comment. The City will then take those comments into consideration in setting the final plan.… This is an important step in the improvement of all Northside communities. We hope to see a good number of folks and hear a good number of voices!
Per the meeting flyer that was distributed with the email,
The City of Pittsburgh, in partnership with the PA Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, and in cooperation with One Northside and the Northside Bike/Ped Committee, will conduct a preliminary public meeting for Allegheny Circle two way conversion in the Allegheny Center neighborhood. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the conceptual plans for the project which is set for a May 2018 construction start.  The project team will be present at the public meeting to answer any questions and present the conceptual plans.
The official location address is 100 South Commons, 15212; the meeting is scheduled from 6pm with time for sign-in and 'plans display' before the prepared presentation begins at 6:30.
2017-06-08 13:56:17
I attended Tuesday night's Walk Ride Northside meeting, where this was discussed in some detail. Nick Ross explained what he knew (mostly what's stated above), and answered questions. Short version: We should have a temporary bike lane in late 2017, replacing the inner-most (usually parking) lane. Expect dirt to fly in 2018 when they bust out all the triangle separators at the intersections. I hope Nick weighs in here with further details. Myself, I would like to see small traffic circles, and posted several examples of such on my Twitter feed on Tuesday night. They're all over western NY. Like this new one in Hamburg, this intersection of four two-way roads in Caledonia, south of Rochester, this one on the main north-south street in Warsaw, or this double circle on the NE side of Buffalo.
2017-06-08 16:06:20
This will be great. On a bike switching between lanes over and over again to stay furthest to the right while going around the square is a PITA
2017-06-08 17:06:06
In my opinion, a one-way ring road is ok. All of the traffic lights should be removed (Except maybe Stockton Ave/Sandusky St.) and a road diet should be considered.
2017-06-08 20:56:10
If all goes well, you'll be able to get a preview of it during June's Open Streets.
2017-06-08 21:30:22
The City has shown a willingness to do some really, really cool stuff with this project and I truly think it'll produce positive outcomes for all modes.   The current four-lane, one-way road will be converted to two-way traffic with one auto lane in each direction, dedicated parking on the outside curb, and a two-way protected cycle track on the inside curb.  All traffic signal except for Commons/East Ohio St will be converted to all-way stops which not only will be an enormous safety improvement for walkers and riders but also actually reduced vehicle delay in the city's micro-simulation modeling.  Radii at intersections will be reduced and crosswalks improved.  Some street trees and furniture added.  All four streets coming into the circle will also get formalized road diet treatments adding parking and bike lanes in each direction.   This is basically the definition of a Complete Street project and a great showing from the new Department of Mobility and Infrastructure.  Once complete, the project will connect existing east/west bike infrastructure on East and West Ohio Streets with existing north/south bike infrastructure on Federal North and the Clemente Bridge to form a true network through the Lower Northside into Downtown.   From a project delivery standpoint, the city is phasing the project by installing a temporary cycle track and lane diet later this summer while maintaining one-way traffic and modified traffic signal functionality in order to show incremental improvement and essentially beta test these transformation changes to better inform the ultimate project, which will take place in 2018.  Working with city planning and the Buhl Foundation, we found multiple studies going back almost 30 years recommending two-way conversion that never came to fruition and yet this entire project will be complete about three years after planning began.  Pretty amazing considering the Penn Circle conversion project is really no bigger and yet is going on a decade of phased implementation.   PennDOT has willingly agreed to turn the street, which previously served as Rt 28 before the expressway was built, back over to the city so that they can modify it to serve our residents.  Faros Properties, the new owner of Allegheny Center, has also been a huge proponent of the traffic calming and multimodal improvements.  Definitely a good sign of the times.
2017-06-09 07:57:58
This is Darlene's district.  Did she personally go over the studies to make sure they were to her liking?   On a more serious note, how will bikers get to the inside cycle track?   I assume wait at a light and use the crosswalk?
2017-06-09 08:52:04
In the interim condition this summer, yes, the city is modifying the signal cycles so that a walk phase will be on recall instead of requiring bikers to dismount and push the beg buttons.  Bikers will then cross with the walk phase.  The city's Mobility Engineer has some pretty advanced plans for how to stripe these crossings that effectively provide protected intersection-like benefits.  Very cool stuff that hopefully gets hardscaped into the final project. Speaking of (and slightly off topic), it's incredibly impressive that the city has high quality staff on this project in the Director of Mobility and Infrastructure, Project Manager, Mobility Engineer, Traffic Engineer, and Transportation Planner that all happen to be female.  Very rare in a male-dominated field, and a very real improvement in my opinion.
2017-06-09 10:57:45
@NMR said "two-way protected cycle track on the inside curb". Protected by plastic bollards, only? I'm concerned about the four corners, because cars have a tendency to cut corners, and if cars are breaking the bollards every few days, it would take a vigorous maintenance effort (not something Pittsburgh DPW is known for) to replace the broken bollards promptly. We have a broken bollard problem on the Waterfront protected bike lane in Munhall, and its curves are gradual, not sharp. Broken bollards can not only block the bike lane, they can also scare off future bike lane users. To reduce maintenance hassle and to protect cyclists I suggest that the bollards at the corners be steel or concrete, not plastic. On the straightaways, plastic is OK.
2017-06-09 16:03:41
Make it simple. Park a car on the second lane out at each corner, and leave them there all winter. It will get everyone used to single-lane operation, it will make everyone slow the F down, and it will protect cyclists on the corners.
2017-06-09 16:49:55
We (PMTCC) have Major Force kids program with Youth Place. And we use this Allegheny Center Loop every Tuesday and Saturday. So as a rush hour and a non-rush hour user I can say that inner cyclotrack is going to be very inconvenient. To get out of circle you have to cross both lanes. And what is the point to connect bicycle infrastructure if you have to cross it twice -- exiting and entering YP  every time we have a ride? From my point of view it would be easier to stay in car lanes. So from the beginning we are going to teach youngsters to ignore those bike lanes.
2017-06-09 17:25:18
I'd say it will be ignored if you want to go from, say, 7th st bridge to E Ohio.  It will be a PITA to cross at the cross walk, get in the cycle track, and then cross over at E Ohio.   I guess that outside lanes would make more sense.   One positive of ignoring the cycle track is that then Darlene can threaten to run you down and tell you to "get in the damn bike lanes."
2017-06-09 17:49:22
Give the traffic on Commons St. right of way with yield signs on the approaches. Too many four-way stops already. They create more pollution and cause cyclists to loose their momentum. Why does it have to be two way traffic and not function as a roundabout?
2017-06-09 20:37:11
Paul, We (Walk/Ride Northside) couldn't agree more; our stance is that use of plastic bollards will lack appropriate protective capacity around each corner and have been assured by the city that permanent, concrete protective buffering of some form will be used in the final project next year.  Our stance is also that plastic bollards along the tangent sections will be inadequate due to the total length (almost one mile), short design life (<5 yrs) and ongoing maintenance concerns.  The city must get serious about making their cycle tracks permanent, and that means evolving from plastic bollards to concrete curbing.   Mikhail, Thanks for your work in the neighborhood!  The stance of Walk/Ride Northside is that vehicular cycling fails to accomplish the goals of our advocacy, which are providing safe, comfortable means of transportation by mode other than car.  The safety data is irrefutable, as is the record of use by people riding and more importantly those not riding.  The majority of our residents are not, nor will they ever be, comfortable taking the lane in all situations outside of neighborhood residential streets.  We encourage the strongest and most confident riders to continue doing so, but in the meantime will be focusing on making our streets safer and more accessible by bike for the other 95% of the population.  While having to cross into the cycle track will be a minor inconvenience,  the city has chosen the safest and most equitable intersection control possible (all-way stops) and the benefit of safety and comfort far outweighs the negative.   edr, Outside-lane cycle track certainly seemed more intuitive to us as well, until you consider that two churches, two schools, and four bus stops require curb space in that direction.  A parking-protected directional bike lane on the outside curb to maintain accessible drop-off and transit functionality with buffered directional bike lane on the inside curb was considered, but skepticism from stakeholders and a significant cost  increase led back to an interior cycle track option. zz, The greater purpose of the project is to begin undoing the auto-centric, post-war redevelopment that demolished 36 blocks of fine-grained urban neighborhood to create Allegheny Circle in the first place. Returning natural travel patterns instead of forcing vehicles into a circular detour has been wanted by residents, for obvious reasons, nearly since the original project was built.  While yield-on-entry is the most defining feature of a modern roundabout, that alone does not make one.  We believe that doing so on Allegheny Circle would create the kind of death trap traffic circle defined by large diameter and dangerously high induced speeds that soured American's perception of true roundabouts for so long.  Installing neighborhood-scale roundabouts at each intersection was considered by our group, but there simply is not enough space to build roundabouts that can handle buses and include the kind of protected cycle way design the defines state-of-practice.  This would in fact make walking and biking more dangerous and place all benefit on drivers.  The benefits of one-way to two-way conversion are numerous and I encourage you to look up some research on the topic.  As for cyclist momentum, one benefit of the interior cycle track placement is that a cyclist must only stop at their entrance and exit intersection, which they should be legally doing anyway.
2017-06-12 08:16:12
@MNR, Am I correct, bikes are going to be exempt from the stop signs on Commons Ave. if you are going to continue on Commons Ave. Cyclists will only need to stop upon turning to/from Commons Ave.  from/to Federal St., Stockton Ave., Ridge Ave., or E. Ohio St., or on to Sandusky St.?
2017-06-12 20:04:30
@zz   We haven't seen the city's plans so I do not want to speak out of place or for them, but I'm assuming that at intersections without conflicting movements - where bikes continuing straight do not have to cross with cars - the cycle track will be treated as a side path with yield to peds but allowable through-movement without stopping.  This is a fairly rare treatment and depending on signage clarity the city may choose to stripe and sign with stops just as the will for cars, but a reasonably competent rider paying attention should have no problem proceeding through at a reduced speed.   I'd argue this to case is comparable to the intersection of Panther Hollow and Schenley outside of Phipps, which has already set precedent for allowing bikes in cycle track opposite of the perpendicular leg of a three-way intersection to proceed through while yielding to peds.
2017-06-13 07:53:23
@NMR, Stop (Except left/right turn). Have you seen them?
2017-06-13 10:56:50
This public meeting is tomorrow!
2017-06-21 16:01:32
"The project also will replace most traffic lights with stop signs and extend sidewalks with bumpouts at intersections to make it easier for pedestrians to cross the street."
2017-06-21 16:12:29
That'll be nice.  And hopefully cars will avoid the area when it isn't a speedway anymore.  There are other ways to get where you are going without needing to go through Allegheny center
2017-06-21 19:40:48
@edr - BINGO!   The three lower Northside expressways created the border of a web that has turned streets like North, Federal, E/W Ohio, Ridge, Western, and Chestnut into de facto on/off ramps.  These "shortcuts" are in reality no faster than the intended entrances and exits, but the allure of relatively moving traffic is too much for cut-through drivers to resist.  These people are not stopping at businesses on their way in and out, as evidenced by business districts that are still struggling, and often have no regard for the people in the neighborhoods they're crossing through.  We welcome all to the Northside, but only if you treat us and our neighborhood as you would your own.   By returning our streets to the people and uses they were intended to serve, you remove the incentive for drivers to treat them as highways.  There may be growing pains but people will adjust, and the end result will be positive for the people of the Northside and those who want to come to, not through, here.
2017-06-22 08:10:33
I just visited Nova Place today for the first time. Since my bike is in the repair shop, I had to take a 91 Butler Street and 54 North Side-Oakland-South Side bus to get there from Lawrenceville after visiting Caffe D'Amore. I think this area has some real potential. Here are a few pictures I too while there. Plenty of green space. There are two things I question.     Why is there a car parked here? Was this sign installed in the '60s?
2017-06-22 17:25:33
Ha! Actually, yes, that sign was probably put up in the '60s.  The previous owner of Allegheny Center was notoriously anti-anything other than funneling as many cars into and out of the circle - and their massive parking garage - as possible.   Then, of course, the entire development collapsed because nobody wanted to be there.   Faros Properties, who now owns the rebranded Nova Place, has the complete opposite approach.  They've been huge supporters of the two-way conversion project, bike/ped improvements in particular.  They bring the perspective of working in bigger NE Corridor cities and fully understand the benefits of creating place and developing for people, not just cars.  I bet they don't even realize the sign is still up.  I've never been hassled riding around there and have never heard of anyone else being bothered either.   Glad you made it over!  Did you stay for the meeting?
2017-06-23 07:56:38
There actually are a few bike racks there, of a couple different shapes, though their locations seem non-intuitive. Last night, I actually rolled my bike into the building, and nobody said anything. There really isn't anywhere to put it in the retail area, though, so I don't recommend the practice and I'm not likely to do it again (now that I know where the bike racks are). But yes, all in all, the place is a lot more bike friendly than it was before Faros took over. I was in the room to look at the diagrams on the easels, but had to leave before the meeting itself began. My main objection is that a couple of spots in the long-term design look like door-zone bike lanes. And the through street past the front of the Children's Museum only makes sense with a 10 mph speed limit and super narrow lanes, like sub-10-foot. Drop off grandma, sure. Easy cut-through to save time, just no.
2017-06-23 11:05:22
@NMR, I am surprised that sign actually survived for nearly a half century in this kind of condition! Is there someone who I should notify about the matter? There are also No skateboard and bicycle signs posted at the Waterworks Plaza despite having some parking for bikes. These signs are totally contradictory to these infrastructure improvements. @Stu, No, I did not stay for the meeting which I was unaware of. I did see many bike racks throughout the area. Also, do you have links to the plans which call for door zone bike lanes? Why is there parked car on the walkway?
2017-06-23 15:22:53
Also, speaking of Allegheny Center, I got doored Sunday on North Ave. between Arch St. and Sherman Ave. I heard from one of the neighbors who witnessed the accident that this is a high bike traffic area. Definitely have to take the lane here. The woman opened her door before I could blink and I crashed into It. A very nice (and beautiful) police woman came and helped us out. I gave the women who opened the door my home phone number and it turns out that she has AAA. The same neighbor got me bandaged up and I had to get a ride home. No fights broke out. I do not need to develop a crush on that young female police officer.
2017-06-27 22:19:37
Ride at the "40 line" and you'll never be doored. * Left lane line is zero. * Right lane line, if there was one, is 100. * Position yourself at 40.
2017-06-28 03:39:06
@Stu, I try to do just what you said. Sometimes, I just want to avoid getting honked at. I rode in this area today and made it through unscathed. Also, I have video of me circling Commons Ave. From Children's Way all the way around to Ridge Ave.
2017-06-28 22:29:23
When I get honked at, I move from the "40 line" to the "30 line". I do this in the Darlene Harris video.
2017-06-28 22:47:32
@Stu, Is that further left?
2017-06-29 00:01:34
Yes. You can see me consciously do this in my East Street video, one second after she honks at me, at 1:58. The video is cued up here at 1:50.
2017-06-29 05:57:55
I do not need to be attacked by Darlene Harris! I'll give her the middle finger.
2017-06-29 10:25:35
Holding the lane, or controlling the lane, is the "control" part of "control and release", the best-practices approach to riding in mixed traffic. Of course, I never know who's behind me. If they honk, that lets me know they can see me. My subtle shift left in response: * signifies that I did indeed hear them * indicates I am taking action in response to their stimulus * indicates I have no intention of ceding lane control to them at that time. If I am where I am supposed to be, and obeying the rules, there is no reason to do anything else. Specifically I gave up giving people the finger. It accomplishes nothing and is often counterproductive. When I can shift right a bit to facilitate their passing -- the "release" part of "control and release", it will be where I can do so without endangering myself.
2017-06-29 11:19:15
Should I start a new thread for lane control?
2017-07-02 17:37:55