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Sept 2014 Critical Mass

Sorry for posting this with only a few days' notice. But the weather should be ideal. Since sunset is fairly early (7:10p), I don't want to make the route too long, so we will do this: * Start at Dippy * Schenley Park bike lane past Phipps * Continue on bike lane over the Panther Hollow Bridge **DANGER WILL ROBINSON** * Get out of the bike lane and continue *straight* onto the ramp to outbound Blvd of the Allies / Panther Hollow Road * P-H Road to Greenfield Road * Cross the Greenfield Bridge (for the last time, probably, for those of us who don't live out this way) * Greenfield Avenue, and down the hill * Sharp right onto Saline St, and get in the bike lane * Bike lane into Schenley Park * Up the Junction Hollow Trail * Boundary St * Neville St * Sharp right into CMU just past the railroad tracks * Sidewalks through CMU, respecting pedestrians * Forbes Avenue inbound, continue to Bellefield in left lane * Cross Forbes, return to Dippy on sidewalk, respecting pedestrians. It's about five miles, and should take us roughly an hour. Expect it to be dark by the time we get back. Route map, on MapMyRide.
2014-09-23 06:16:53
The **Danger Will Robinson** moment on this route, and the continuation up Panther Hollow is a section of roadway I have particularly strong feelings about and would really enjoy taking with this group. I know I can't stay for the whole ride regardless, I'd continue up Hobart and make a left on Beacon (a lesser but still fun spot in it's own right) but any chance this one could start early? Happy to ride out with whoever from downtown along Forbes, get a little pre-ride ride in there too.
2014-09-23 07:53:37
I usually tie up at Forbes & Grant, and expect to touch the bike about 5:30-5:40, for a 6-sharp arrival at Dippy. I've advertised a 6:15 start, and it won't be a second later than that. Do you need that moved up a notch, Ben?
2014-09-23 08:10:15
Thinking a little more clearly, it probably wouldn't work with other's work schedules to push it early enough for me. Outer end for me in terms of a start time at dippy that works is 5:40 sharp.
2014-09-23 10:17:44
When do you plan to leave downtown? I could still ride out with you.
2014-09-23 11:30:20
I tend to leave pretty much 5 sharp on Fridays.
2014-09-23 11:40:06
Hmm, that's a bit early for my tastes.
2014-09-23 12:04:22
Back to discussing the route. I posted this on the Facebook thread, but it's worthy of cross-posting here. Here's the real problem with this route: It would be easier and safer for us NOT to be in the bike lane once we get around the corner past Phipps. We are not obligated to be in the bike lane, and it is simply not safe to merge from the bike lane to the traffic lane, just as a lot of cars are peeling right to the inbound BlvdAllies ramp. Thus, I think we should exit the lane as soon as possible after turning at the corner past Phipps, and take the lane. Do you see why? Because we're safer *even if* we're pissing off drivers.
2014-09-23 12:04:59
@ Stu I understand what you ant to do is easier, and I know it's legal. I disagree that it is somehow safer than going to the south end of the bridge and waiting for traffic to clear. Or at least, I don't understand why someone could realistically think it was safer than waiting. I think pissing off drivers on Panther Hollow Blvd is a good idea. It's a place where unsafe speeding is the norm and law enforcement is too lazy to do anything about it. I don't think angering drivers on the bridge gains anything except a little more time for us and less time for them.
2014-09-23 12:27:52
Routing is what it is for this ride, but it would be better for future critical mass rides to avoid routes with the new bike infrastructure unless the ride intends to use it fully. However flawed it is at some intersections and endpoints, making a loud collective statement against using it is, at very best, not a great use of energy when there are so many truly awful, hostile roadways you can be making a statement about instead. At worst, it's could be a serious liability for our new mayor who has really been quite extraordinary in his willingness to stick his neck out and try and change things here. I'd cut him a break, especially on a politically oriented protest ride.
2014-09-23 13:45:18
My intent is to educate, not malign. If you are a cyclist, and want to go outbound on PH Drive, just how would you do it? How would you do it with a group ride? How would you as a driver deal with cyclists NOT in the bike lane, as sometimes they're not? Of course, anyone's intent can backfire, such that the effect is much different from the intent. Professional P.R. people know how to steer this discrepancy to their benefit. I am neither a P.R. professional nor a bullshit artist who can similarly achieve that goal. All I can do is make the statement, in the form of asking an honest question via a bunch of cyclists trying to do just that.
2014-09-23 19:03:38
If I may, Stu, I'd like to respectfully ask you to reconsider the bike lane aspect of this ride plan. There really hasn't been a great blowback event about the cycle lanes yet. The Mayor has done an awful lot, BikePgh has seen overnight success after 13 years of toil, and we could use a few steady months of success and people getting use to the change. Granted the lanes are not all optimal, and they're not mandatory. But why choose to start this particular contest? (and this route is definitely choosing a new contest). I think about two things: I think about the media in NYC jumping all over the Central Park bike-ped fatality as an opportunity for bikelash, and I think about Mr.Love's anti-advocacy if there's news coverage of "bikers eschew bike lanes and tie up Friday traffic". None of that helps anything; none of that educates the non-cyclists - just gives ammunition to the bike-haters. Certainly there's other longer-standing issues / locations that we could ride through than the centerpiece of Peduto's relationship with BikePgh. I'd really like to request, Stu: nothing's final until 6pm Friday. Please choose another route.
2014-09-23 20:11:47
I think it will be a non-event. I'm not expecting a huge crowd. I'm more concerned about the half mile of Panther Hollow Blvd than getting to it. I'm also hoping to get one more ride in over the Greenfield Bridge before they blow it up.
2014-09-23 20:53:24
Just looking at it from the teaching angle... to teach effectively you must teach the students you have, not the ones you wish you had. Cycletrack endpoint quandaries is comparatively advanced material, we're still figuring it out as cyclists. For sure it's going to fly right over motorists' heads. Keep it simple. Blvd of the Allies outbound from Craft or Bates comes immediately to mind as a clearer form of protest against what is really the bigger problem anyway, hostile, nasty, roadways with no bicycle facilities whatsoever, and also has the benefit of coming right before Panther Hollow Rd.
2014-09-23 21:21:22
Also, regarding the "failed design bike lane / impossible to make a left-turn" - I think the successful technique, compatible with the design, is the Copenhagen Right. (h/t @Benzo in the other thread). Which is to say, instead of rejecting the bike lane as unusable and bailing into the car flow, you bike up to the intersection, turn right and stop, positioning for the left turn, then use the crosswalk and cross the street. 2013 techniques may not be the best in 2014 situations. Flow like water n'at. All the best, VB.
2014-09-24 07:23:45
That's a good trick to know, but that won't work for the case described, since the road forks, the bike lane follows the fork, AFAICT, and we're not. I think the method to use on a group ride is for the riders to use the bike lane up to Phipps, make the turn in the bike lane, then the rear-most rider merges into the car lane, thus allowing the rest of the group to get over, too, at their leisure. Then they can continue straight onto the outbound ramp.
2014-09-24 09:50:10
The bike lane ends before the exit for the Chas Anderson playground. That exit is before the fork. My impression is that it would be difficult to design the end of a bike lane to be better suited to the Copenhagen right.
2014-09-24 11:41:02
I gotta go over there and look at it before Friday.
2014-09-24 11:51:01
I went over there and looked at it before Friday. My suspicion is accurate. If you stay in the bike lane, you get channeled into the ramp that sends you back into the city on P-H Road. If you want to go outbound, you have to come to a dead standstill in the entrance to Anderson Playground and hope traffic clears. It's actually worse than that, since the bend in the road, the side of the bridge, and a statue of a panther, collectively block your vision of oncoming traffic. It is also very difficult to jump from the bike lane into the traffic lane. I tried to do it with a car at least 10 car lengths behind me, and could not. The bollards are spaced too close together to do that. So, we have to get in the traffic lane at the three-way corner by Phipps, and take the lane all the way across the bridge.
2014-09-25 19:12:22
Riding the ramp, once you get into it, is not too difficult. It is plenty wide, thus allowing us to get to the right and let traffic get past us, without them causing us much grief, or us crowding them. And then comes the road itself. It goddamn sucks. There is no shoulder at all. Zero. The paint line is practically on the curb. There's a curb at all. It's not super tall, but it's there. If any of us get blown over against it, we get dumped. It is not wide enough to "share". You cannot ride the edge. You have to get away from the edge. So we have to take the lane. That, too, is goddamn scary. Traffic coming around that bend as we merge from the bridge is probably going 35, maybe 40. It's posted 35, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're going 45. I am going to argue that it should be 25 through the park, and I don't care who I have to piss off by saying that. 25 and enforce it. It's a friggin' park, dammit.
2014-09-25 19:19:30
A coping mechanism I saw a couple of cyclists use: Somehow they got from the bridge to the sidewalk on the other side of the bridge, and went up "the wrong way" on the ramp coming from Greenfield Road. How you get there, I'm not entirely sure; I didn't watch them that closely. Like this guy:
2014-09-25 19:29:42
They're not blowing up the Greenfield Ave bridge until October 2015, not 2014, so you have plenty of time.
2014-09-25 20:44:00
Guess I need to go here and see what the dill is.
2014-09-26 05:44:53
@Stu, I have to disagree about needing to get into the traffic lane so early. I know it is VERY inconvenient for cyclist to have to come to a stop at the playground and then wait for a break in traffic to get back in the lane, but as we yell at cars all the time – be patient. Ignoring the bike lane for such a long stretch comes across as arrogant, IMHO. Actually, I think I would try to get into the traffic lane at the end of the bridge, but with the bollards you will probably have to come to a complete stop in order to do so. Coming to a stop is less than ideal, but any rearward traffic will see you merge into the traffic lane and will understand your intentions better (i.e. you are not ignoring the bike lane, but the bike lane is not going where you are). Also, prior to the bike lane being installed I would always try to occupy the entire lane-and-a-half going under Panther Hollow Rd. This is an area of driver confusion since some traffic is hugging the right curb in order to go up the ramp by the pool, and the other traffic is hugging the left curb in order to take the ramp onto P.H. By occupying the center of the lane you prevent people from squeezing you into an unsafe place. I don’t see how any of this has changed.
2014-09-26 07:50:42
I'm a little afraid of bollards. On the Undies Ride last night, a woman tried to merge back into the bike lane after somehow getting out of it (it happens when 150 bikes go down the street at once), clipped one on the way in, which got her off balance, then she tangled with another cyclist and they both went down hard. This happened right in front of me, on Penn by about 14th. That said, I would either commit very early, or very late, but not try to do it mid-bridge. Note that my unease with the one car 10 car lengths back was before the Undies Ride incident, but the two thoughts together sealed my feelings on them.
2014-09-26 10:08:19
To be clear, based on the feedback from above, we will use the bike lane over the bridge. We will reconvene at the end of the bridge, cork the damned road, and then go out onto the ramp as a group. Not to do that would be unsafe, since there is great danger of cars peeling right, at speed, in so doing wiping us out. So we cork. I'm perfectly OK with that, even though in an earlier discussion we said we would not cork. Corking is necessary here.
2014-09-26 15:41:12
Hey Stu, excellent ride. I really appreciate you taking the time to pre-ride and recon the route. Nice to meet every body. Thanks!
2014-09-27 07:58:55
Just 5 of us. Good ride. I would still veer to car lane. BTW design flaw is obvious for cars too -- lady on SUV to get to the traffic lane she needs blocked completely on lane setting her driver side for very bad collision.
2014-09-27 09:48:48