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Constructive Criticism for new bike infrastructure.

I looked at other threads on here and didn't find quite the one I was hoping for, so I'm starting a new one. I use two of the new bike lanes every day, kind of. I ride from the troy hill to homestead for work every day. My main criticism of the bike lanes is how they both end. At the 16th street bridge the Penn Ave lanes end with a dotted line across a 4-lane road into a 3 lane one way street going against traffic. This is dangerous, really dangerous. As of right now there are no obvious signs telling anyone what to do at the end, and to people new to biking, or new to town (like everyone in town for the bike-share and bike-ped conferences) have a pretty good chance to ride across 16th onto Penn going against traffic. I hope that those dotted lines are planning for a future extension, but a bike lane ends sign might be nice in the meantime, the dotted lines invite cyclists to remain in lane across the road into oncoming traffic, setting up a great left hook from the dedicated turning lane they are riding into! It is great that there is a protected lane coming onto Irving/2nd from Panther Hollow, it is not great that it ends with no direction just 20 feet from a protected path to Washington DC. I can't help but think that bikers and traffic alike would have benefitted more from dealing with that insane 5 way intersection instead of putting new infrastructure on a comparatively sleepy little road - especially with the Hazelwood Trail being closed. I ride Irving St daily and still find the safest route to be on the road down Second Ave from the trailhead and then onto Irving. Seeing that bike lane end just short of the only place in that area where a major improvement is needed is heartbreaking every day. I know these are just steps in a bigger picture, but the ends in the meantime should be taken seriously. Sending a novice into oncoming traffic through the strip or across the irving/second/panther hollow/greenfield/railroad intersection without signage is just bad. The most frustrating part of this is how good the signage is on the rest of the new bike lanes! Everything looks really good, I still take Liberty>Grant through town but made we'll have a nice brick-lain bike lane on Grant one day... that would be special!
2014-09-08 21:33:04
I agree about the problem at Greenfield, Saline, etc. & Second Avenue, but there's no feasible solution. The underpass needs to be wider, and that's $$$. But a sign explaining exactly what you're supposed to do would help. Arrows showing the way through the underpass and up to the EFT.
2014-09-09 07:38:21
I agree that the ends of the bike lanes are confusing right now. Part of the problem is that the lanes take you out of the "normal" car traffic flow - which is a good thing. But when they end you are caught in a place where you are not part of the traffic flow. This is especially true for the west bound lane in front of Frick in Oakland. It's even hard to use the crosswalk if you want to continue going straight here. Hopefully in time we'll all figure this stuff out.
2014-09-09 07:47:38
At the south end of the Panther hollow bridge, the bollards end just before the curve in the bridge - the part where thye are most needed. My first impression is that most of teh cars going west to the ramopt for the C Anderson bridge go accross the painted lines and some of the the folks going towards Squill do too. That impression was wrong. ALL - as in every last one - of the couple dozen cars I watched that went over the bridge violated bike space. Most of the people going to Squirrel Hill did, too. This is an unsafe situation. A dozen bollards will fix this (although,granted, the most important ones will need to be replaced regularly.) I don't tweet. (At least not while using electonic devices). What is the next best way to register a complaint about this? 3-1-1 website? Phone? (is that what they call candlestick things? I might need to know the right terms to be an effective activist here.)
2014-09-09 09:30:49
I think the bollards are too close together. Thinking of the Schenley track, most people aren't going from one end to the other but rather need to enter or exit at a different point (if only to avoid hitting the dead ends and being stuck). Merging in and out of traffic, possibly crossing a few lanes, requires speed and taking whatever opportunity presents itself. The need to avoid and squeeze between bollards makes both these hard. The lanes themselves are also uncomfortably narrow for bi-directional traffic.
2014-09-09 10:04:44
I rode the lanes downtown for a few blocks and, although there are certainly some problems to iron out, I got a little twinge of "I really hope this is the future". Especially between 7th and 9th, my overall impression of the street was just "wow". The two sides of the street feel much closer together with only one car lane, and it just seems like a much nicer place to hang out and do stuff. Plus, looking down the handlebars and seeing that - as much as I don't mind riding in traffic, I also wouldn't mind *not* riding in traffic. That being said, I do wish they weren't bidirectional lanes. I feel like we're getting those because they're easier to install, not because they're the right solution. In some places they're ok - the one on Saline is probably ok given it ostensibly connects two pieces of trail (even if one is the shitty chute). Same for the one on the GAP in Homestead.
2014-09-09 20:56:58
I got to hang out with some of the people from the Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike conference. After going out to dinner at a Thai place on the NSide, we biked back downtown via the West Ohio St bike lane, the 7th St Bridge's new bike lane, followed by a left onto the Penn Ave bike lane. It felt entirely natural to lead a crowd of about seven or eight around the city on all this infrastructure. Some of it is temporary, some of it is only paint, some of it is of questionable design, but all in all, it works. I got into a friendly argument with a bystander on Penn near the Westin. I wasn't sure if she was with the conference or not, but she did have a program. I correctly guessed that she owned a bike but didn't ride much. Her take on these was that if they were not there, she would not ride, since getting in the lane is just plain scary. If it were up to her, she would replace the candlesticks with jersey barriers. So, yeah, these are not the complete answer, not necessarily even a good answer, but they do help.
2014-09-09 21:17:11
I agree completely with the point about the end of the Penn Avenue lane. I turn left from the bike lane one block before it ends, simply to avoid that mess. (And because, aside from the 16th St Bridge, there really is nowhere else to go.) That being said, there are 10 blocks of bike lane where there used to be cars. I've added a loop to my commute that allows me to ride the whole thing, and I love it!!
2014-09-10 06:31:22
Not sure if this is quite the right thread, but I just saw this in a PG article about the conference: "But the addition of the bike lanes has not made everyone happy. Joan Natko, legislative chairwoman of Allegheny County Transit, who attended the open house as part of the public, said she talked to a police officer earlier in the day Tuesday who said some bike riders on Penn Avenue were riding outside of the lanes. The officer told her that he would have to start citing riders for infractions when they leave bike lanes and move in front of cars." Read more: Are the Penn Ave lanes compulsory? If not, someone needs to brief the Police Department on the finer points of the law...
2014-09-10 17:24:28
The police officer is wrong. Bike lanes are not compulsory in PA. The police can, however, pepper spray you and beat you pretty much whenever they like.
2014-09-10 17:57:00
Totally random question. Is biking while black as likely to get a chat with a cop as driving while black?
2014-09-10 18:11:31
@neilmd, unfortunately yes. This has happened to a very good friend who sometimes posts on this board. Racist don't change their stripes just because you are on two wheels instead of four.
2014-09-12 12:42:24
I will speak with Ms. Natko personally (I quoted the same story in another thread, and I know the lady), but that won't fix the tens of thousands of misinformed citizens as well as LEOs out there.
2014-09-12 13:01:51