Is there anyone currently commuting from Ben Avon/Sewickley area to either Downtown or Oakland? I want to see how it is and what route ppl take..thanks!
I can help you once you get into Bellevue, but I'll let her offer the first take on this.
Commuting from Ben Avon into downtown is a wonderful ride, and the extension into Oakland should be quite simple.
I live right near the bridge over Camp Horne Road in Emsworth. I ride straight down Center/Church/Lincoln through the business districts of Emsworth/Ben Avon/Avalon and Bellevue.
While I might take one of several routes from Bellevue to town, the decision point for which route to take always stems from the intersection of California (the extension of Lincoln Avenue to the far side of the Jacks Run Bridge, near Millers Seafood Restaurant.)
I would recommend starting with one of three route options from there:
Left at the stoplight onto Benton Avenue (note the traffic signal will not detect your bicycle, and you will have to either stop, then run the light, or wait for a car to come to the intersection.) Turn right at the stoplight on Brighton Road. After 2 short blocks, stay straight on Shadeland. After almost a mile, turn left just past Horace Mann School onto Woodland. After one long block I turn right onto Stayton, and then left onto Hodgkiss. This brings me out on Brighton right at the top of the Marshall Avenue hill, and permits me to miss the long downhill-stoplight-uphill on Brighton. From there, it's all downhill to West Park/Commons. Stay in the traffic lane, and watch for poor pavement condition between the High School and California Avenue. At the park, turn left onto West Ohio (the first stop light IN the park), then right onto Scotland at the first road. follow it as it bends right, and then left. The pedestrian/bike bridge along Fort Duquesne Bridge into Point State Park will be about two blocks straight ahead, near the Del Monte building. Take that bridge into Point State Park. Leave the park, and head to Blvd. of the Allies. Head into town on Allies, and at Grant, take the right "exit" to get to the Eliza Furnace Trailhead on Ross Street, at PNC. That will get you to Junction Hollow....others can provide detailed access to Oakland from there.
Alternate Route 2: Turn left on Benton Avenue from California (at the stoplight that will not detect your bike). After a long block, turn right on McClure. Stay on McClure as it does some winding, and heads downhill. Pass under the huge overpass at the bottom (Eckert Street here) and continue to Beaver Avenue. At Beaver Avenue you can take a right (to left at Westhall) or left (to right at Doerr) to access the Chateau Trail. That trail will take you to the Ft. Duquesne Ped/Bike Bridge referenced above, near the Del Monte building.
Alternately, you can stay on Beaver Avenue (rather than turning off onto the trail), and ride THAT into town. It is usually quite pleasant (and much faster than the trail). This will wind you down past the Casino, and to the same bike/ped bridge referenced above.
Note that the Beaver Avenue option does not work well in reverse. On the way home I usually take the "northside wiggle" of Scotland/Merchant behind the Clark Bar Building on the northside (in Alternative 1 above) and take West Ohio Street to Brighton, to left on California near the Urban Gardener, then follow California as it winds and then climbs to Benton. From there it is a right and then a left to stay on California (crazy, yes). That puts you right back on Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue.
Also, if you take the Chateau Trail outbound, remember the Doerr and/or Westhall exits. The key to getting off the trail, and into Brighton Heights/Bellevue is the Eckert Street tunnel under Route 65. If you can't find that, you'l have a tough time of it.
There are other route options, but we will wait until you master one of these safer routes before we share those with you!
What time of day do you plan to ride? I've see about a dozen different people who ride in on a somewhat regular basis from the Bellevue/Ben Avon area.
Good luck! It's a great ride. I ride slowly, and my trip from Emsworth to the far side of downtown (with lots of turns and stoplights) takes me about 45 minutes. With your "3 mile head start" and reduced interaction downtown, I suspect you can get to Oakland in an hour, tops.
For what it's worth: If you're comfortable riding in traffic, I'd suggest taking Forbes through Uptown to Oakland, rather than the Jail Trail.
(I lived in Fineview, on the near North Side, for four years, and spent the last year+ commuting to Oakland. I usually took Forbes to the Fifth Ave bus lane or sidewalk, then Craft back to Forbes. Reporting the car dealer and daycare that consistently block the sidewalk just past the Birmingham Bridge gets old, though, and riding in the bus lane can be a nearly $150 ticket.)
If you take the Jail trail, you can exit at PGH Tech Center (the office park on your right a couple blocks'-worth before the Hot Metal Bridge) and take Bates St up to Oakland. This is a pretty difficult climb, on an overused state road with heavy and unnecessarily fast traffic, so I recommend the sidewalk as a pretty good option here--though watch for the uncut curb at the exit ramp from 376. If you're heading to somewhere in the southern part of Oakland, esp. south of the Boulevard of the Allies, this would be my suggestion.
Or, you can take the Jail Trail until the end, wind your way around to Saline St and take the Panther Hollow Trail, which leads to one of several climbs. Which one you take will depend on how you feel about road surfaces and your destination:
- OK with rough road or narrow sidewalk? Joncaire is Belgian block, it's sidewalk is high, narrow, and occasionally crowded, but if you're headed to Central Oakland or the western part of Pitt, it may become your favourite option.
- OK with hauling your bike up three or four flights' worth of stairs? There's a city steps across from the Boundary/Neville/Joncaire intersection which will bring you out near Schenley Drive's bridge, across from the Carnegie library.
- OK with a long climb with a traffic light at the top, or heading to the eastern side of Pitt, or North Oakland*? Go straight up Neville Avenue; you'll end up at Fifth Avenue, between Pitt and CMU. If you want South Craig, you can take one of a couple lefts mid-hill, across from Central Catholic HS. This isn't as steep as Bates, but it gets a fair amount of traffic, especially around school start and end times.
- Want switchbacks, or going to CMU? Take Neville Ave, and immediately after the railroad tracks turn right into the CIC garage. Take the right ramp to go under the garage and go left at the end of the road, and you'll find yourself behind Gates-Hillman. Go straight, and there's a narrow, windy path that ends up on Forbes, next to Cyert Hall.
* Especially if you're going to North Oakland or the eastern end of Pitt, you might want to consider a different route altogether:
Exit Downtown to the northeast, and take Smallman to 28th. Climb into Polish Hill, take the soft left on Dobson.
Turn right at the end onto Herron, and immediately left onto Melwood.
This road becomes Gold Way; take the left onto Denver to return to Melwood, which shifts a half-block to the east.
You'll end up on Baum Blvd near the car dealers. Take Melwood another block south to Centre, then go right to Craig or left to Neville.
I ride Squirrel Hill to Camp Horne Road a few days a week (reversing to come home). I have been using McClure to climb up to Lincoln, but may look into some of the other routes suggested.
Its a pleasant enough ride.
Thanks all for the kind responses!
It is encouraging to know that the ride is not terribly difficult. I commute to S. Craig in Oakland and have been envying the bike riders I see while sitting on the parkway :). I am not that good of a bike rider and don't have much experience riding with the traffic, so I will have to experiment in shorter length..
@swalfoort, my commute will start around 7:30 - 8 in the morning and 4-4:30 in the afternoon. What time do you see the people riding? It would help me feel more at ease if I can ride with others.
Hopefully I can start soon and save my parking fee!
I commute to S. Craig in Oakland ... I am not that good of a bike rider and don’t have much experience riding with the traffic
In that case, I would recommend taking the Jail Trail to the Junction Hollow trail and either
- Carrying your bike up the steps (take boundary to the end; at the stop sign where you would go left up the Belgian block or slight-right up Neville, go about ten feet up the sidewalk to the left to reach the steps). When you get to the top, you'll be behind Pitt's Frick Art building; follow the driveway to Schenley Dr, cross the road, and take the sidewalks around the back of Carnegie Museum to reach the end of Craig St.
- Bearing right on Neville, and taking the first left (Fillmore) or the second (Winthrop). Neville, once you get past the tracks, has a sidewalk on the left side, and the side streets have sidewalks on both sides, in case you need to stop or get out of traffic.
Thanks @buffalo buffalo
Hold on now, isn't there kind of a distance between Ben Avon and Sewickley? Ben Avon into town seems pretty simple. I don't get out that way much, but how the heck would you get from Sewickley to Ben Avon?
There is also the bus option. Pedal into downtown via whatever path suits you, ride over to Fifth Ave at Wood St, and mount your bike on any 71ABCD bus. They will all get you to Fifth and Craig. Then on the way home, you can roll down Neville to the trail and sail on into town to start the north end of your trip.
Not sure how to use the racks? This video
should be helpful.
Edit: @edmonds59 is right, there's a big, Walmart-landslidey gap between Sewickley and Ben Avon. If you're beyond that, I'd *start* with a 14 Ohio Valley bus, and ride down to next to the casino, then start riding the river trail from there.
I think the OP was identifying Sewickley as an alternate (further out) point of origin. His actual request identified Ben Avon.
I would never want to commute in by bike from Sewickley; Emsworth (and the end of Center Avenue) the end of reasonable commutes, for me.
Cookingmaster, that's about the time that I generally come in. (I leave town later than you do...) I could definitely show you one or more of the routes into town. Next week is probably good, but the week after that is pretty odd for me, with a national conference in town, and lots of random duties associated with that.
I'll send you a personal message with my cell phone/contact information.
I will add two useful data points. Make sure you know about Marmaduke Park. It's a small neighborhood park near the corner of California and Benton. It has a water fountain, a very handy thing to know about. If you are inbound along Calif, turn right at Miller's Seafood House (Perrott St), that will drop you right into the park, a very short block away.
If you're looking for a clean restroom en route, your best bet is probably the Woods Run Library. It's the only reason I can think of to use Brighton Rd down and back up. That's a miserably steep and narrow street to climb going outbound, and inbound isn't much better, so I usually bail on Brighton and head off toward the river.
Does anyone know if there is a staircase connecting Eckert/McClure with California Ave?
There is the new staircase at Marshall.....is that what you mean? But that is Beaver to California. Up from Eckert? No staircase that I know of.... A couple very steep streets tho, Falck and others.
Oooh, yeah, I forgot about that. Very nice! But rather pointless for @cookingmaster's need to get to Oakland. If you needed to get from Woods Run to the Calif Ave post office facility, then yes, that would be great. But once down at essentially river level, there's no point in climbing back up to Calif just to come right back down again.
I seem to remember seeing a staircase under 65 or Calif.
off of Eckert just a few feet up from the McClure split. I have no idea where it goes. I was just trying to think of another way out of Woods Run besides Brighton.
You are right about that staircase off of Eckert.
Taking the stairs (which don't seem all that difficult) would appear to land you at the intersection of California and Forsythe, immediately adjacent to the south end of the bridge over Woods Run.
That's a nice find. Thank you.
Note that it is most useful in the outbound direction, as it is still north of the "California Avenue death zone" with no clear (safe) alternative route inbound.
I checked.out that staircase this afternoon. 125 steps, but lots of landings, so an easy climb. Steps are in good condition, with exception of 20 ft stretch where hillside has slipped, and walk tilts downward. There is a fair amount of glass at lower reaches, but could be swept easily. Large (and noisy) dog in house right at top of steps. Might be better to take sharp left at top of stairs to Hopkins Street, then turn right on Forsythe to California if dog is out. Will try to post photos.
Access at top is between fence on California and first house (look for 'for sale' sign). Bottom is on Eckert, just past McClure intersection. On right, at 25 mph sign.
I too explored that staircase this evening. If you are going outbound, this is where you find that entrance. Look for a sidewalk parallel to the direction you are going, but just this side of that first house. In this picture, the top of the fire hydrant points directly at it.
I too discovered the very loud dog. It is behind a fence, but inches away from you.
That tipped piece of landing might prove troublesome when it's slippy.
I want to know more about the loud dog.
As you come up the steps, you're looking at a thick wooden fence. The sidewalk forks, and both forks have to go along one side of the fenced yard with the dog for about 20 feet. Chances are pretty good that the large black dog that lives in that yard will detect your presence, and notify everyone within 200 feet of that fact.