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Browns Hill Rd at Parkview to Downtown

I visit a friend in the Riverview Towers high-rise just off Browns Hill Rd by the Homestead Greys Bridge fairly often. Tonight, I will leave his place on my second bike with the far-from-ideal headlight, barely adequate gearing, and brakes that will stop the bike eventually. In short, like about 80% of the non-high-end cyclists in this town. Plan A, I will bike across the bridge sidewalk, to the road into the Waterfront, pick up the GAP trail, and ride in past the eagle watch area and on into town. It's a tad longer going that way vs. any other way, but definitely the simplest, flattest, least troublesome option. The intriguing question is what Plan B might be. The stranded end of Saline St starts one traffic light away on Browns Hill Rd, behind IHOP. A passel of stop signs and climbs gets me down to Monitor near Beechwood. OK, then what? Remember, I'm on the crap bike with inadequate lighting front and back, and barely functional rim brakes. No roads. No Greenfield, no Fifth or Forbes, no Beechwood or Murray. Even with one big rear blinky on my helmet, and my blaze orange vest, I feel unsafe. Plan B1 is: R Monitor, L Shady, L Forward, across Murray to Pocusset, to Pocusset Trail, to ... ??? uhhh, there isn't really an option that gets me to anything useful. Maybe into Schenley Park, to pick my way down the goat trail in the dark, in the snow and ice, to Boundary, to pick up the Jail Trail? Um, just no. A non-starter, even if it was daylight. I don't even know another way down that hill in daylight. Plan B2: As above into Schenley Park, salmon my way on Overlook Drive for a half mile, hope I can figure out the path by the pool to the tunnel under the street over into Anderson Playground, then pick up the Schenley bike lane, port the bike down the 144 steps behind Frick Fine Arts Bldg to Joncaire, to pick up the trail there. Plan B3 (which I've done, in summertime, in daylight): Saline, L Lilac, R Graphic, L Monteiro, path into and through Magee Playground (I last did this in 2008, no idea what it looks like at the moment), get across that fustercluck of a corner, onto Nantasket, L Donegal, R Lydia, L Alger, path into Greenfield School, and down a broken, almost non-existent staircase to pop out onto the back porch of St. John Chrysostom Church (where I sheltered during a thunderstorm the one time I tried this), and then on down Saline, past Big Jim's, and onto the Jail Trail. Plan C, if I had decent lighting and brakes and felt safer: Saline, L Lilac, L Graphic, R Greenfield, and sail down the hill, command the lane through the intersection onto Second, then up Swinburne and onto the trail. What would really help are the two things I've mentioned a dozen times before: A direct connection from Pocusset Trail to the Saline dead-end, and a hovenring over the Saline-Irvine-Greenfield-AVRR-Second mess. A third thing would be to rebuild that staircase behind Greenfield School down to Ivondale and St. JC Church. Do you see what I'm getting at here? The average person with a crap bicycle, which is damn near everyone out there we want to get riding and doesn't have $1,500 to spend on equipment, now or ever, needs a way to get downtown from that whole, heavily populated chunk of the city between Forbes Ave and the Mon. You just can't do it. My best option includes a 144-step staircase.
2016-12-21 17:02:15
Stranded Saline behind IHOP doesn't go anywhere, does it?  I thought it was barracaded off toward the top to prevent cars using it instead of Browns Hill to get to Beechwood. Is it bike passable?   I' the gap. Longer but safer   Edit: my bad. Barracade is between IHOP driveway and saline. Saline is a regular street down there. Before summerset was it a through street down there?
2016-12-21 17:16:29
I forget the exact spot where it's barricaded going south. I know I can get to it from IHOP. Maybe not in a car, maybe I have to port the bike over a barrier of some sort, but do-able. Yes, south of that, it once went down into Duck Hollow. Off-topic here. My concern is not having to bike on Browns Hill or Beechwood, headed north. As I stated, tonight, I'm using the GAP. (Twice, really. I have to get there, too.) But it would sure be nice to have another option. There really isn't one, and that's a problem. My point is that I am trying to look at cycling from the perspective of a non-advanced rider, who's using substandard equipment. There's no point in promoting cycling if the only cyclists we can attract are the 0.5% of the riding community who can afford top-line equipment and are unafraid to bike in traffic.
2016-12-21 18:00:46
No they repaved it after Summerset. It's in better shape now than before.
2016-12-21 19:46:52
Hey this may be too late. Bad ice and deep puddle at the base of the eagle-watching bump at keystone metals. Do it the old fashioned way: deviate onto the railroad ballast. I really soaked my socks there on Monday and regretted it.  
2016-12-21 19:49:56
Saline at that end connects to the Imogene / Browns Hill intersection. There's cement blocks that mostly prevent larger vehicles from crossing but there's no obstruction if you're on a bike. There's not really a way to get from Saline to Parkview: no path, sharp drop to the level of the development. If you need to get from one to the other, use the sidewalk from Imogene to Old Browns Hill. Or, just get on the main road; it's a short block and you'll have a head start on the drivers. Well, going downhill; uphill just do the sidewalk but be nice to the peds.
2016-12-21 20:22:59
Basic thoughts, not meant to be snarky, but if you're riding in hilly PIT with no brakes or gears, at night with no lights... That's the real problem, not your choice of routes. Around here, brakes are not a luxury item. That said, my preferred & suggested route would be Imogene / Johnston / Second / trail. It's a short, steepish climb followed by a long but gentler descent and then a busy main artery, but it's pretty direct, and somewhat benign for Pittsburgh. But it might not be a route for a casual rider on dubious gear. But ultimately you're coming from an area that is cut off from downtown by a meaningful hill and limited infrastructure. I think your options are limited to going over the hump directly or through Squill, or around it by taking the bridge to the GAP.
2016-12-22 09:02:03
I didn't see the posts about the icy lake by the eagle watch site. Having experienced that once, I opted for my Plan B2, above. This worked really well. To start, I used the sidewalk on BHR for a few yards, then made it mostway up a steep gravel path into IHOP's parking lot. I'd scoped out that path on a previous visit. On bike #2 with its step-thru frame, it was easy to waddle up the last few feet. (Note to self: Gather more steam next time.) Climbing those couple of hills on the Saline dead-end was tough; glad there was no traffic. Saline from Beechwood to Monitor was easy enough. Monitor, no traffic. Quite a few cars on Shady but they gave me plenty of space. Forward was mainly downhill, so no trouble interacting with cars. This was about 10 p.m., so there was plenty of traffic. Pocusset doesn't get a whole lot of traffic. Pocusset Trail, I had to watch for a bit of ice and loose leaves. It gets pretty narrow at the construction site. No traffic on Greenfield, obviously. The two-way part of the park road had a surprising amount of traffic, almost as busy as Shady Ave. When I got to the loop, I bore left and started salmoning. This is an amazingly nice road to bike. We really should have a legal, contra-flow lane for bikes down the hill. Precedent: Riverview Park. I had no trouble finding the tunnel, but switching sides of the street would prove troublesome if there is any amount of traffic. A solvable problem, just noting it here. From there, all we really need is a little signage. (It's a good thing I knew where the Joncaire steps were.) It's a near seamless trip from Pocusset to Oakland, if we could address those couple of things. Myself, I made it from Browns Hill at Parkview at 9:36 to Fifth and Grant at 10:32. A quick stop at the office, then back on the bike to get to Cedar and East North, by Allegheny General, by 10:50.
2016-12-22 09:26:47
My preferred route would be to go Beechwood blvd to Hazelwood ave to Greenfeild ave to Eliza Furnace Trail if you can do the hills on greenfeild. Not bad going east to west, harder going west to east.  Not even a lot of elevation change, just one doable climb on greenfield. Traffic isn't really all that bad on greenfield on the uphill portions that you would need to do. I still have no idea why anyone would want to push or carry a bike up or down the joncaire steps when there is a perfectly fine sidewalk on joncaire that you could walk or ride down (or walk up). So what if it's marginally less distance.
2016-12-22 09:48:38
Here’s a route for you, Stu: It uses Panther Hollow Trail, a wide crushed limestone trail through Schenley Park. This is probably the safest route from North Squirrel Hill to Junction Hollow.
2016-12-22 12:06:39
Pocusset, Greenfield ROAD, Panther Hollow Road(use sidewalk if you'd like), over PH bridge passed Granny's house (Phipps), Schenley Drive; at least two options 1. Clemente, Boquet, Joncaire (sidewalk unless you like cobbles), Boundary 2. Frew, Hammerschlag through CMU, Boundary [though I consider Boundary to Joncaire one of the most dangerous {cars} stretches to cycle on--especially going the other direction] Only beware of The Fox and Zombies.
2016-12-22 23:25:47
There is no light at any of Panther/Run Hollow Trails (upper, lower or run). So it's not an option without light during dark time. And switch from Lower Panther Hollow Trail to Run Hollow Trail is pretty steep (but very short). I rode those trails both directions on my road bike. :)
2016-12-23 11:42:54
I tried this today on the good bike. I took the lane on BHR going uphill, 4 p.m., good weather. No problems at all. I went: Parkview, BHR, L Hazelwood, R Murray, L Lilac, L Graphic, R Greenfield, R Second (not the chute), up onto EFT and on into town. Bonus: Used Ft Pitt Blvd down to Stanwix to Penn, also taking the lane. Again, no problem.
2017-01-02 00:05:23