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Route Options into Pitt from the North

I am getting back into cycling and planning a 3 day trip from Rochester to Pittsburgh for next year as my inspiration to loose some weight and get in shape. Not knowing the area other than 279/579/Blvd of the Allies (my son goes to Pitt) and nominal knowledge of Oakland/Shadyside I'm hoping to get a recommendation. My current plan is to be in the Mercer area by end of day 2. My hope is that I can find a simple (and direct) route that prevents the need for frequent start/stops to look at trip tickets, dealing with missed turns and resulting re-route/backtracking, etc. At first glance, Rt 19 from Mercer down through Cranberry Township to Perrysville/Federal to the Roberto Clemente, Andy Worhol, or Rachel Carson bridge appears attractive. Looking at random sections of this route online with Google Streetview look like limited access... I am OK with riding in traffic but would prefer to not be in 4 lane traffic with no shoulders for extended miles... Any help with route suggestions for Cranberry Township to Pittsburgh (as I believe Rt 19 north of Cranberry is OK) that is simple would be appreciated. Thanks in advance, Steve
2014-10-03 11:37:11
Right on Rochester Left on Thompson Park/Executive Dr Right on Freedom Left on Commonwealth. Stay until it comes to the end (on ramp to 79). Make a left on Wexford Bayne Road Right on 19 just south of Cranberry and North of Wexford. Simpler is stay on 19 until Freedom but that have you dealing with more traffic and faster traffic. I could probably dig up some back routes from 228 all the way to just north of the city but more pedaling and more hills.
2014-10-03 12:30:24
Sew, Thanks for suggestion! Through another channel I heard Rt 19 and McKnight are to be avoided as you get closer to the city. An alternate recommendation was using Babcock Blvd. Maybe using Mars- Evans city rd to Mars-Valencia Rd then to Babcock into Millvale then the trail into the city. Thoughts? With your suggestion I could take Wexford Bayne over to Babcock Blvd. If it's better to stay of 19 so be... I'll just need to try and stay south of Mercer at the end day 2 to account for the added mileage associated with zig-zagging around to get a safe route into Pitt. Thanks, Steve
2014-10-03 13:43:19
Oops, my bad. I'll be starting Day 3 in Meadville and not Mercer (which is why I'm trying to keep the route as direct as possible as it's roughly 92 miles so lateral deviations could easily boost the route to 100+ on day 3)...
2014-10-03 16:57:29
I live within sight of the traffic light on Perry Hwy and Perrymont Rd, about a half mile south of CCAC North. I rarely bike north of my house, but at a consistent 300 commuting miles a month, I can offer some suggestions for getting to Oakland. If you're coming down Perry (note, there's a major paving job along here, but should be finished in a few weeks), start counting traffic lights after CCAC. The fourth is Pines Plaza. The fifth is a pair of lights at the Green Belt. You want to turn left here at the second of the pair. It's a busy corner, but if you've gotten this far and are not afraid of taking the lane, you should be fine. The road you turn left on is called Three Degree Road, and goes downhill for about a half mile. At the bottom of the hill, turn right. This is Babcock Blvd, a fairly quiet, wide, two-laner that will take you into Millvale. Much of the time you can ride on a wide shoulder, but don't be afraid to assert yourself in the lane. In Millvale, this becomes North Avenue. Turn left onto Grant Avenue. At the other end of Grant, you will bend a bit right but get into the left turn lane, AS IF to go under a bridge and over the railroad tracks BUT DON'T. Ride the sidewalk up to the 40th St Bridge, then the sidewalk to cross the bridge. At the other end of the bridge, you get dumped out onto the end of Foster Street. You will need to get over into the traffic lane on 40th St, which might require waiting a bit. Once over there, continue across Butler St and up the hill. Cross Penn, continue to T intersection with Liberty. Left on Liberty. Liberty has a door-zone bike lane. I usually ride on the white stripe. In about a quarter mile, there is a bit of green paint, but you will peel right onto the Bloomfield Bridge. Cross the bridge, then negotiate your way to make a left at the far end of the bridge. You are now quite close to Oakland. In another quarter mile, the road forks, one fork being Craig St (if you were aiming toward CMU), the other Bigelow (since you're aiming toward Pitt), but both are acceptable approaches. Craig is a little less direct but fewer turns; Bigelow requires a couple of wiggles to get close to campus. But if you've gotten this far, you can figure out the specifics of your approach. I do not recommend coming down McKnight. Traffic speeds on the high side of 70 are not unusual. Another way to get to Perrymont is to approach from North Park on Babcock. The snippet of Babcock that uses McKnight is not horrible. It's only 0.2 mile, and nearly always traffic starts from a red light at McKnight. You want to be in the center lane (the right lane is actually a bendy-right-straight onto Perrymont). Then the right lane, then the peel-off to continue on Babcock. Once you get past Northway Mall, it's a half-mile downhill to the Three Degree and Babcock corner mentioned above, only you're making a left.
2014-10-03 17:28:42
Hello Steve, I'd like to offer a slightly different approach. Everything these other cyclists have said is completely valid; they know of what they speak. I'm not eager to see you penetrate the north quadrant of Pgh, and I think I can offer a fairly flat alternative - which involves offsetting west of I79 a few miles. I've been riding between (roughly) Beaver PA and Grove City PA recently, and that approximates most of your third day. Grove City is in the southeast corner of the I79-80 intersection and I'd like to suggest a route that might be a bit more civilized/ enjoyable. Grove City to Rochester, PA The Sheetz at 422 is a great rest stop. There's a coffee shop and some McD-BK in Ellwood City. Rochester PA to University of Pgh 51 South has a decent shoulder (51 North doesn't). At Coraopolis, take Neville Island to avoid some hills. At Mckees Rocks Bridge, use the sidewalk and cross eastbound. Then it's trails to the Swinburne St. trailhead on the Jail Trail, and a ride uphill to Oakland. I hope you have a great adventure!
2014-10-03 21:27:04
Also, on the question of lateral deviations - I'd much rather ride 105 miles of mostly flat, than 90 miles of hilly up-and-down, because I'm kind of lazy that way.
2014-10-03 21:38:23
I'm kind of lazy that way... :-) Doesn't sound like a bad idea on day 3 that early in the season although when I did a Google maps bike route I was surprised Roch to Pitt was less than 10k of climbing. I've done the following ride with no difficulty (back when I was in shape) so I'm hoping hills or no hills (relatively speaking) won't be an issue. For the masochists on this thread, the Highlander is a great ride and is well supported with rest stop and SAG wagons if you're looking for new challenges.
2014-10-04 11:08:17
I'm not super familiar with the roads north of Grove City, but something like this would be much nicer than riding 19 the whole way. A few map checks is well worth it IMO. North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock is a good lunch spot if you've got time to stop. Riding 19 as far south as Zelienople isn't that bad on a Sunday (weekdays are much worse), and you could cut over to Mars from there.
2014-10-07 15:23:27