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Morningside-Downtown Safest Route

I am moving to Morningside and am wondering what is the SAFEST and least hilly way to cycle back? There are a couple of options: Going from Morningside (down the hill by the zoo - I think it's called Baker St) down Washington Blvd to Butler and all the way down Penn. This is a good option for both directions, but I am concerned about the traffic on Butler and particularly Washington Blvd on weekdays. Cars drive really fast on Washington Blvd, particularly between the RD Fleming Bridge exit and the Highland Park Bridge curve. The other option is to go through East Liberty and on Penn or Liberty, but this adds about 5-7 mins to the commute, and the ride back to Morningside is pretty hilly. Stanton Avenue is too steep and long for me. I would appreciate any input from cyclists living in the area. I commute downtown pretty often on weekdays, and the traffic is worrying me.
2017-06-01 16:39:16
I'd just go up Penn the whole way until you need to cut over. Maybe Penn to negley to Stanton  There's no perfect option.
2017-06-01 18:52:33
To Downtown:
  1. Facing West on Greenwood St. with the Rite-Aid on your right, turn right onto Morningside Ave.
  2. At the stop sign, turn left onto Baker St.
  3. At the bottom of Baker St., there is a stop sign, turn left onto Butler St.
  4. As you approach the 62nd St. Bridge, Stay in the right lane and continue through the traffic light.
  5. Follow Butler St. through Lawrenceville, taking the lane as necessary to avoid the door zone.
  6. At 34th St., proceed through the traffic light onto Penn Ave.
  7. Penn Ave. becomes one-way inbound after 31st. St., Continue straight through traffic light.
  8. Enter cycle path to the left upon crossing 16th St.
  9. For access to Grant St, Turn left onto 10th St. as you watch for turning cars. Continue straight onto Wm. Penn Place. Turn left onto 7th Ave. and onto Grant St. To access Smithfield St. Follow Grant St. to Ft. Pitt Blvd. and right onto Smithfield St. For access to Wood St. Turn left off the Penn Ave. path onto 7th St., continue through traffic light to the right of the separator on 6th Ave. and turn right at the next traffic light. For Stanwix St., Follow Penn Ave. to where it merges with Liberty Ave. Use the turn-around to loop around and turn right at the traffic light onto Stanwix St. For Market Sq., Turn left at 6th St. and proceed through traffic lights on Liberty Ave. and 5th Ave.
To Morningside:
  1. Take cycle path on Penn Ave. to 16th St., turn right into the left lane.
  2. Turn Left onto Spring way. Continue one block to 17th St., turn left
  3. take 17th St. across Penn Ave., and turn right onto Smallman St.
  4. Follow Smallman St. to 32nd St. (For a less stressful ride, turn left onto 21st St. then right onto Railroad St. Cross tracks at 90 degree angle. Follow railroad St to 32nd St.)
  5. Turn right onto 32nd St.
  6. At the traffic light, turn left onto Penn Ave. Follow Penn Ave., taking the lane as necessary.
  7. Make a slight left onto Butler St. at the next traffic light.
  8. Follow Butler St. through Lawrenceville and Morningside to the traffic light before the zoo.
  9. Turn right onto Baker St. Climb Baker St. and turn left onto Jancey St. and right onto Greenwood St.  (You could also walk your bike up the Gallatin St. steps and turn right onto Witherspoon St., left onto Chislett St., follow to Greenwood St. and turn right.)
2017-06-01 19:09:55
Variant on @zzwergel's outbound route. * Penn bike lane to 16th. Cross 16th when safe, then use sidewalk to get to Spring Way. * Spring Way to 22nd. (I hate Smallman before this. East of 22nd is OK.) * Smallman to end; left onto 36th and cross RR tracks. Pavement is bad here. * Right turn just after tracks. Watch for trucks. Go slow, be clearly visible, signal all movements. * Pass thru barrier into second truck lot. As before, be courteous and predictable. * Pass under 40th St Bridge, then slip through slot in barriers. * Right, cross tracks, left onto Willow. Leftright at 44th onto Plummer. * Right onto Umpire Way, left onto Butler, immediate peel straight into Allegheny Cemetery. * Follow white line through cemetery. Exit through human gate. Brief dismount because of a couple steps. * Left on Penn. Take the lane, without apology. * Left on Negley. Take the right (or only) lane, without apology. * Left on Stanton; right onto whatever street gets you the rest of the way home. Definitely learn the wiggle from Smallman to Willow. Definitely learn the ways in and out of the cemetery. Definitely learn to assert yourself in the lane. Once you have this, you can ride _anything_.
2017-06-01 19:55:50
The route through Allegheny Cemetery is very pleasant.
2017-06-01 20:00:24
The route @zzwergel is good if you're a confident cyclist and are comfortable with faster traffic (on butler between baker and 55th street).  However, I hear your concerns about it. I really feel sketched out sometimes on the bit between baker and 62nd street bridge, and dislike the area between 62nd street and 55th (by Nieds hotel). Once negley ave lanes are installed, Negley to ellsworth to neville, to jail trail will be a nice route, and a bit more comfortable. There are a number of ways to wind through the east end / strip district (negley or Highland to penn, return via penn to smallman to ??? to penn to negley or Highland) if you prefer that way as well. It's all a matter of preference and what you're comfortable with.
2017-06-02 10:19:10
@zzwergel and @stu's advice is fine if you're confident and okay with being buzzed on a regular basis, but having lived on Butler St in the centre of Lawrenceville for four years, I wouldn't regularly ride it unless it can't be avoided, especially in the evening.  I have had drivers honking and screaming at me multiple times, once simply for standing in place at a red light. @stefb if I recall for many years commuted from Morningside to the North Side by @benzo's route. My advice for inbound would be to head south to Hampton, and use that to cut across to Highland Park.  Sometime this year, Negley is supposed to get bike lanes south of Stanton at least to Baum; until then, try Negley and Highland and the side streets in between and see which you like. If it were me, I'd probably take Negley to just past Penn, then turn right on Coral and take that west across Friendship.  Eventually it becomes one-way toward you; you can head south to Liberty or north to Penn.  (Avoid Friendship Ave near the Park; there's a marked bike lane, but it's unconscionably small and you're more likely to get passed unpleasantly there than just about anywhere else in my experience, including on Butler.)  I'd probably just take Penn, as it's close and no worse than anything else. Once you're on Penn, see how you feel about the traffic.  If it's decent, you're probably okay--it's either flat or almost-unpleasantly-downhill pretty much the entire way to Downtown from there. If not, just across Mathilda, cut into the Allegheny Cemetery.  You'll notice the lanes are marked in several colours; these actually denote several different routes through the park.  Follow the white route for the most direct route down the hill; the turquoise and dark blue routes are also nice but do involve some bonus climbing.  Depending on season, the gates are open generally from I think 10am to either 5pm or 8pm; when the auto-driveway gates are closed, there is a pedestrian gate in the middle which allows after-hours access.  Note that the Butler St pedestrian gate often sticks, but will open with a good shove. Once you reach Butler, turn left, then take the first right (which should be 47th, just past the Teamster's Temple).  Turn left on Plummer, right on 44th, left on Willow.  At the end of Willow, turn right on 40th St Extension, cross the tracks, and look for a break in the barriers--this is what Stu refers to as the 'wiggle', a connexion across a series of warehouse parking lots that will get you all the way to 36th with no further traffic to speak of.  From there, 36th gets you Smallman, which is nice and wide for the first several blocks; if it gets uncomfortable, you've got River to the right from 31st, Penn to the left, and Spring just across Penn. It does add a few minutes to go down into East Liberty, but IMO it's worth it to avoid riding roads you're not comfortable being on. For getting back, try this:  cross to the North Shore Trail. Take the trail out to Millvale; loop back to the 40th St Bridge (use the sidewalk to get up the ramp and across the bridge--the sharrows here are garbage and nobody has any idea why PennDot put them in).  When you get across the bridge, follow the sidewalk to hook left onto 40th St Extension and head north to Willow.  As above, so the reverse getting back:  head north on Willow, turn right on 44th, left on Plummer, right on 46th.  Turn left on Butler, then continue straight into the Cemetery.  Enjoy a nice, leisurely climb with almost no traffic behind you.  Exiting the cemetery, turn left on Penn, take Negley or the side street of your choice back to Morningside.
2017-06-05 18:30:15
I do this everyday.  I have two ways I typically go but I'll share the flatter and safer version.  I highly recommend avoiding Butler street north of Neid's Hotel.  I know some of the other recommendations above are even safer and flatter but you mentioned being worried about adding even 5 minutes.  I would be too which I why I posted the below.  To me, it's the safest route while still being direct. Inbound
  1. Assuming you're starting at Rite Aid, get on Morningside Ave and head towards Stanton
  2. Left on Hampton
  3. Right on Negley - Some people don't like riding this past Stanton but I see other bikers here almost every day.  Take the right lane with confidence.  I've never had an issue in the morning outbound.
  4. Right on Coral - More shallow and very calm compared to Friendship Ave.  Also, I don't like the lower part of Penn near Negley.
  5. Stay straight on Comrie
  6. Right on Mathilda
  7. Left on Penn - There is a lot of traffic on Penn but it is generally slow moving and easy to navigate.  You can ride this the whole way into town
  1. Penn Ave bike lane to left on 13th street
  2. Right on Smallman
  3. Right on 33rd
  4. Left on Penn
  5. Right on 34th
  6. Left on Liberty
  7. Left on Cedarville St
  8. Right on Friendship Ave
  9. Left on Negley
  10. Left on Hampton
  11. Right on Chislett
2017-06-06 12:45:36