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Back-to-school route advice - Sq. Hill -> Obama Academy

Since it's that season again, a route advice question. Looking for a route for my daughter to take from Sq. Hill to school at the Obama Academy on N. HIghland. She's a capable bicyclist, but hasn't had too much experience solo on the streets. I've looked at shady-alder-highland, but Shady seems a bit sketchy to me, and Highland is even worse. We tried Bk Sq- > East Liberty Ave this afternoon at 4pm and I did not like the way folks were zooming around and cutting across the bike lane.  I presume this would be even worse weekday mornings. Cutting through whole foods to go across Penn Ave a bit to the West of Highland has its own set of challenges. I'm not aware of any better alternative, and I'm thinking this might not be a great idea for her just yet. Any thoughts/advice on this route and these streets? Thanks..
2016-08-21 21:54:36
For the Shadyside part can you cut through some of the side streets that run parallel to shady, highland, etc? I know this doesn't cover that much territory.
2016-08-22 06:54:09
I would be less concerned with where, and more concerned about technique. Does she know not to hug the curb? To stay well away from doors? To hold a steady line and not weave in and out of parked cars? It's a learned process, not intuitive, but definitely safer.
2016-08-22 08:19:50
I assume you come down Beechwood and through Mellon Park. Alternately down Linden and L on Reynolds (less traffic, slower). I've found ELB reasonable; there is the bike lane, but also the parking lane which is rarely parked in so traffic can be further away. The bit at BkSq (going through the underpass) is a bit sketchy, but the timing on the lights makes it workable. You can go into the BkSq property straight from Mellon Park at the first light and avoid the Penn/ELB intersection. There's often a rent-a-cop there keeping tabs on the parkers Alternately cut through from BkSq by way of Walnut-Shady-Alder-Highland. The traffic on Highland is slower but it's busier, and the bit next to Home Depot does not have a lane (it's sharrowed but in practice that doesn't seem to matter).  
2016-08-22 08:46:30
I think either route is fine. I live in Highland Park and am comfortable riding on both Highland Ave and East Liberty Blvd, even with a 3 year old on the back of my bike. There's plenty of bike traffic on both roads, so motorists are (theoretically) used to mingling with cyclists. If she comes down Beechwood and cuts through Mellon Park, she can also avoid riding on Penn by using the new green bike path on the south side of Penn (in between the road and the sidewalk).  Then cross Penn at East Liberty Blvd and she has a bike lane for most of the rest of the way to Obama.
2016-08-22 10:50:04
Thanks, all. Beecchwood -> Mellon park is easy, and even getting across Penn is not so bad. Stu, good points about technique - she's biked a good deal around town with me and with her Mom, but not on her own. To expound upon my concern about East Liberty Avenue, I found the bike lanes their very sketchy - enough so that I didn't feel entirely comfortable, and I regularly bike around on East End streets. We saw one car cut through the bike lane to pass another car on the right. Another car cut us off to make a right turn in front of us. Plus, there's the abrupt end of the bike lane at Negley Run.  I think this is one of the places where the marked bike lane is actually a safety hazard rather than a help. thanks for all the advice, in any case...
2016-08-22 20:55:56
Think of there being a number line across the street. Zero is the left lane line, 100 is the right lane line, if there would be one. (Often there isn't, but you wouldn't drive your car in the gutter where there's glass and gravel, and since neither would you bike there, so figure on the line being the edge of the actual driving lane, even if there isn't a line.) I ride at "40", just a shade left of the center of the lane. That puts me squarely in front of drivers' eyes. To be off to the right edge, even if there isn't a parked car, means drivers think they can squeeze by me in the lane. That's dangerous. To reduce danger, reduce the chances of close passes by getting out in the lane and staying there. That works on two-lane streets like Butler through Lawrenceville, on slow four-lane streets like Grant Street, on fast four-lane streets like Liberty Avenue in the Strip, and on super-fast six-lane roads like McKnight in McCandless, some of which is posted 50. Really, when you learn lane control -- and this applies to teenage girls as well as anyone else -- then you can safely bike darn near anywhere. Be visible, signal your intentions, and obey the rules. Most important, know the rules. You might get an ignorant driver who likes his horn, but that means they see you. I don't move "out of the way" -- I don't have to. They can legally cross the yellow line to pass me. If I could get every new cyclist in the city to understand that, we'd see a tenfold increase in cycling. Good luck to you and her.
2016-08-23 09:14:33
Bike Pittsburgh offers confident city cycling classes. That would be a good idea.
2016-08-23 09:26:05
I agree that the ELB bike lanes are sketchy. A couple weeks ago I was coming through on a Sunday from Highland Park towards Penn, and got screamed at by a woman in a large SUV. The bike lane ends around Frankstown, I believe, and turns into a right turn only lane. Obeying the traffic laws I merged into the center lane to continue straight. SUV pulls up in the right turn only lane, then on green passes me on the right side screaming that I need to "get into the f&*^ng [non-existant] bike lane."  Have had a few other bad encounters there. Not sure what a better alternative would be though. Once you are past that spot the little shortcut behind Bakery Square and through Mellon Park is very pleasant and then you can cruise up Beechwood.
2016-08-23 10:53:23
The "Mandatory use of available pedalcycle path" provision of state traffic law, §3505(f), was deleted in 1998. link
2016-08-23 11:47:14
Thanks, all. The confident cycling classes sound like a start, but as a parent, I want to make sure that the confidence is really there and baked in before I have her riding on potentially sketchy stretches.  DBerlin, I appreciate the corroboration. Stu,  appreciate your advice. That's generally what I try to do. I'm sure my daughter will get there with practice...
2016-08-23 20:17:20