« Back to Archive

Babcock Boulevard

I know there are only a handful of cyclists who use this route, but there are now Share The Road signs along the stretch of Babcock Boulevard from Millvale to McKnight Road. It only took eight months worth of phone calls. Figured this board would be happy to hear it!
2013-02-19 19:01:59
2013-02-19 19:10:32
Thanks for making a common route to the north safer for everyone.
2013-02-19 20:18:12
Millvale to which Babcock-McKnight intersection? There are two. (Three, really.) I travel this road regularly from the Three Degree Road corner, where Babcock makes a 90-degree bend. From that corner down to Millvale, it's already a decent road for cycling. The 3/4 mile from that corner NE up past Northway Mall, however, are just plain horrible. Sticking a couple of signs along the road isn't going to fix a damn thing there. I hate to nitpick, but I will. I hate "share the road" signs. I would rather see "Cyclists may use full lane" or, better yet, "Cyclists may always use full lane" signs. The thing is, on the tame part of Babcock, they aren't necessary, and on the horrid part, they would have no effect. What the horrid part of Babcock, and the mirror image, Three Degree Road, needs, is a road diet. It's four lanes and should be two, with wide shoulders, like the rest of Babcock. And enforce the damn speed limit! Traffic speeds of 45-50 are routine; it's posted 35. Have I ranted enough? Yeah, for one post.
2013-02-19 20:30:35
There has been a fair amount more enforcement lately, I have made some calls after almost being hit by a texter. By enforcement I mean unmarked car presence, no one pulled over yet.
2013-02-19 20:46:20
I try not to ride Babcock much, but sometimes I have to - glad to hear about the signs. I think there's some determent on drivers. And, yeah, I hear you Stu - it's unfortunate that you're right.
2013-02-19 21:28:50
I run Evergreen much of the way that parallels Babcock.
2013-02-19 23:01:07
The part of Babcock that parallels Evergreen is already OK, mostly. I don't care for Evergreen anyway because it adds distance, hills, stops, and crappy pavement. We had a thread on the board last summer in which we tried to figure out a back way up to the Northway Mall area, so as to avoid that 4-lane part of Babcock. There really isn't any. I do know of a way up through a park, on a hiking trail, not bike-able at all, really, which comes out by the Korean church. A variant of that, by ignoring some No Trespassing signs, puts you in The Mews, which is quite bike-able. Eliminates about 50 vertical feet of climbing and a couple hundred yards of deer path.
2013-02-19 23:21:28
Aw yis.
2013-02-20 07:53:53
I generally climb out of millvale via wible or Anderson... However most days coming in you can hold a fast enough speed from Thomson run down to take the lane. That is pretty sweet.
2013-02-20 09:08:14
I think getting a new community to do just about anything that resembles being pro-bike is commendable. This is Ross Township, right? They just got bike cops as I recall, too. It may be an important first step in the aculturation of Ross Township to bicyclists and bicycling. That's worth a congrats to Callahan for his efforts in making that happen. So, please consider this my "thank you" for sticking with the message, and getting them to respond.
2013-02-20 12:30:21
Thanks! But I'm a lady! It's progress. It's small, but it's awareness and that feels damn good. I was trying to figure out how best to reply to Stu, but... meh. Thanks, everyone! Ride safe.
2013-02-20 14:05:10
Yes, Ross Township. There are four signs. They are located near Babcock & Peoples Road and near Babcock & Thompson Run. You can't miss 'em! Unless you're texting. They look great!
2013-02-20 14:09:24
Yeah, sorry, I was in a mood last night. Normally I'm fairly chill about new stuff. Babcock (between 3D and Millvale) is my favorite method of getting into town -- having been run off the road once on Perry, and McKnight is just a pain. Thank you to whoever made this happen. Baby steps. My comments on "share the road" signs, however, I'm adamant about. They convey the wrong message, and to the idiot suburbanite driving a huge SUV, conveys an anti-bike message. Are they even in the MUTCD? Isn't there better signage that is?
2013-02-20 20:49:56
I totally agree about the "Share the road" signs. I hate them. "Oh, so does that mean drivers don't have to share other roads?" (But still, I'm glad they're now on Babcock.)
2013-02-20 21:20:16
Just another quick update! PennDOT installed four extra signs along Babcock at the intersections of Geyer Road, Evergreen Avenue, and Lockhart Lane. That was a nice surprise considering I did not even request those! The whole route from Millvale to McKnight is pretty much covered. :)
2013-02-23 09:39:24
Excellent progress!! There is a group getting ready to meet for the first time, here in the South Hills, to work on improving conditions for cyclists. I'll try to keep you updated on what the group is doing.
2013-02-24 08:44:50
fultonco, I'm a S.H.'er and havent heard anything about that. I'd be willing to add to the discussion/effort when the group gets going. Please keep us informed.
2013-02-24 09:11:19
Marko82 This just got going recently. The first meeting will be sometime in March. I'll let you know when it is, as soon as I am informed.
2013-02-24 11:27:23
Reviving this, as there is now a determined effort to get Share-The-Road signs along Perry from West View to Wexford. I support the cause. I just wish we had a different sign to put up.
2014-03-15 11:11:06
I support the cause. I just wish we had a different sign to put up.
I like what Marco posted above. Another option might be to keep it really simple. What if they replaced "Share the Road" with "Bikes Are Vehicles"? Or better yet, an graphic showing 4 Feet between a bike and car? I still think that law needs more press. Too many drivers seem to be unaware of it.
2014-03-16 05:40:36
Because MUTCD. More specifically, the bicycle FAQ page in the federal document. Generally, if it isn't in the MUTCD, you have much less chance of getting the sign on the street.
2014-03-16 16:36:37
FWIW: The entire State of Delaware has discontinued the "Share the Road" sign; no new ones are to be installed, and existing signs will be removed, though the timeline for that is mildly ambiguous.
“…effective immediately [i.e., last November], DelDOT is discontinuing the use of the STR plaque. For projects that have not yet reached the final plan submission, the STR plaque should be deleted from the plans. For projects past the the final plan submission or in construction, the STR plaque does not need to be installed. When bicycle warning signs and STR plaques are being replaced for maintenance purposes…the STR plaque should be omitted…” The generally preferred alternative is BMUFL, more officially known by its MUTCD code, R4-11. "Share the Road" is in the same chapter of MUTCD, as W16-1P. The difference in codes reflects that BMUFL is a regulatory sign, which expresses a requirement. STR is a warning sign, and an "Other Bicycle Warning Sign", at that.
StuInMcCandless wrote:I support the cause. I just wish we had a different sign to put up.
We do. The question may be, has anyone told PennDOT about it?
2014-03-25 18:25:32
I do not think BMUFL signs would be best along this route. The speed limit is 35, which means most vehicles are traveling about 40-45. There is a shoulder to ride in and only occasionally do I need to hop a bit to the left of the white line. If you are riding the full lane, there is never a safe time for cars to go around you in the opposite lane, and I would not want motorists to find this out the moment it's too late. Also, curvy bends. I do agree these signs are better, but just not at this particular location. I would not want cyclists to think they would be safe doing so, and people driving here still wouldn't get it anyway. You know?
2014-03-26 11:24:56
@callahan you are correct. Most of the Millvale to 3° Rd piece has a wide enough shoulder. I wish Millvale boro's 25 mph zone extended to past the Shop & Save. That 35 mph stretch from Rita's to the "1717 Sigmas" building is what I least like. I also think it's asking a lot of inexperienced riders to get out in the center of moving traffic to continue straight in 6 places: 1, the corner by Rita's; 2, Thompson Run Rd; 3, the 1st McKnight peel-off; 4, the 2nd McKnight peel-off; 5, Siebert; 6, preparing to L onto 3°. I get a lot of practice doing this since I ride through all 6 a couple times a week, but it's unnerving to a newbie.
2014-03-26 11:44:37
I usually ride on the Babcock shoulder but found it full of heaps of loose grit. Anyone know who to call to ask for the street sweeper?
2014-04-03 08:50:25
Which part of Babcock? Most of it's Ross Township; McCandless above McKnight/Peebles, Shaler below Lockhart to below Geyer. Below Rochester and above Duncan it's owned by the state, so you could also try calling PennDOT on 1-800-FIX-ROAD, though I don't know if they do sweeping.
2014-04-03 09:49:47
From 3 Degree down to Millvale. I'll try Ross. Thanks. Well done on the signs. I hope they work.
2014-04-03 20:08:34
Just to note this for future reference, the months long project to replace one of the bridges over Girty's Run, just north of Millvale, has now been completed. Work actually tied up about 10 days ago after two months or so of alternating one-way traffic. If I may pick one nit, there is a large gap at the edges of the bridge that cross the road at an angle. So far, I haven't gotten tripped up by it, but if you don't come up this way all that often, I recommend trying to cross them at more of a right angle than you would be if you were merely going forward. Unrelated to that, the boro of Millvale repaved the bit of North Avenue from Hardees down to Frederick St, and also replaced a couple of the traffic lights. Same setup, same programming, but the lights are larger and brighter.
2014-06-24 22:45:38
Speaking of Millvale, the Millvale Bike/Ped group meets tomorrow, 6/26/14 at 6 pm. The meeting will be at the Borough Building. I will not be able to attend. I hope someone else will and will give us a report.
2014-06-25 06:36:47
I plan to attend.
2014-06-25 10:56:12
I agree that signs don't mean much to most motorists. When the BUS or COPS don't leave the 4' they are supposed to, what do you expect of joe six pack or soccer mom?
2014-06-26 22:57:59
Next question: How do we get Reserve Township to lower the speed limit on the part of Babcock between the Rita's Ices and the plaza with the Shop and Save? Really, up to the 1717 Sigmas Building would be nice, as there's a blind corner. This is a straight, flat, intersection-free bit of road, posted 35, but there is precious little shoulder, and what little there is is occupied by a nasty pair of drain grates. You have to take the lane along here. The problem is that if you keep to the right, you will be pushed off into the curb or drains, and if you try to take the lane, people pass unsafely. Just past Shop & Save, the road makes a tight little bend, blind enough that you will not be seen, going outbound at the right spot, and anyone trying to pass you, either direction, cannot see opposing traffic but that doesn't stop them from trying. Getting people to drive 25 along here would make things safer for everyone. Hell, getting them to drive 35 along here would help.
2014-07-25 14:50:00
I'm almost positive that stretch of road belongs to either Milvale or Shaler Township, but I could be wrong. The Shop n Save there is usually referred to as the "Shaler Shop n Save." Although I wouldn't mind giving the Reserve Township office and police force a piece of my mind about an officer who buzzed me a week ago on Mt Troy Rd to catch a motorist and issue a stop sign citation... /rant
2014-07-25 15:50:11
Yeah, maybe it's Shaler. I don't think it's Millvale that far up. Whoever. I used not to care, but it's getting difficult not to, partly for myself, partly for the guy who's gonna get a Chevy Yukon in the face going 47 mph.
2014-07-25 20:22:15
Shaler starts at Rita's, and motorists will never travel below 40mph on Babcock Speedway.
2014-07-29 14:36:09
Now that I'm running video front and rear, it was only a matter of time before I could capture some of the stupidity I mentioned in my July 25 post. On Monday, Dec 8, a series of drivers played "thread-the-needle" with me and oncoming traffic. I was inbound between the Shop 'n Save and Rita's. The first of four cars passed me with a decent amount of space probably about three feet. The second and third were more like two feet off. The fourth managed to squeeze between me and oncoming traffic, maybe a foot away. All of them were going close to 35, the posted limit, but certainly not "within not less than four feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed", as directed by §3303a3. Video to be posted shortly.
2014-12-09 22:55:37
These start at Babcock and Douglas, about a quarter mile north of the Shop 'n Save. Note the decently wide shoulder at the start of the video. I am on the shoulder here, as I have been for about the past mile. It's paved and six feet wide, so why not. 0:08 - This bridge was rebuilt Summer 2014. 0:15 - Car passes me without incident by the "1717 Sigmas" building. I often use this building as a landmark. 0:25 - The shoulder narrows considerably after the "Around the Corner Bar", so I merge into the traffic lane. (I did signal to the car behind me.) 0:28 - Unrideable shoulder. Car passes me a bit close, but not a problem. I choose to ride in the right tire track. 0:36 - Large hole on edge of traffic lane on bridge. No shoulder at all. I remain in right tire track for the duration of this video. (I really should fully take the lane.) 0:50 - Passing Shop 'n Save. Dark-orange SUV waits for traffic; this becomes the fourth car, which passes me very closely. 0:55 - First of four cars passes me, maybe three feet clearance. Could've/Should've gotten fully over, there is no oncoming traffic. 0:59 - Note the huge hole, which is actually a drain grate I reported on the dangerous-drain-grates thread several years ago. 0:59 - Second car passes me, only about two feet clearance. This one, too, was not in imminent danger from oncoming traffic, though a lot closer than the first one. 1:06 - Third car, a black Jeep, also only about two feet off my elbow, playing thread-the-needle between me and oncoming traffic. 1:18 - Fourth car passes me much too closely, only about a foot away, with oncoming traffic right there. PA plate HVX-6133. A screen shot at the 10:54:15 timestamp in my front video shows that the oncoming car was itself on the white line. However, HVX-6133 is not over the yellow. It's just narrow through here. 1:44 - As soon as I pass the light at Rita's, the lane widens considerably. Front video: Rear video:
2014-12-10 07:53:53
Wow, I've never really considered this before, but the Geyer Rd intersection (just before Rita's) seems like it would be an absolute death trap at rush hour. I don't ride through there much/ever myself, but I'm probably going to be extra mindful while driving through there from now on. When exiting Geyer onto to Babcock, it's tough to see cars coming from the right without inching out, let alone a cyclist. Definitely good reasons for taking the lane there, even if it's only briefly so you're visible at the intersection. Of course, that's just considering the enviromental hazards. It pales in comparison to all of the impatient, dangerous stunts I've seen drivers pull there over the years.
2014-12-12 16:55:06
Oh, definitely. In my younger, um, less enlightened cycling days, I very nearly got wiped out at the Babcock-Geyer corner. A pickup was trying to make a left onto Geyer, I went sailing past on the shoulder, and had to make an emergency maneuver to not get hit by a car crossing Babcock. Get in the lane, stay in the lane, don't do stupid stuff like that, and you're probably going to be all right. That presupposes, though, that motorists are playing by the rules and considerate. Which is asking a lot.
2014-12-12 20:21:45
Stu, you might already know this, but be careful going down that stretch near the Shop 'n Save. There is a (what's it called - parallel? horizontal?) drain that is always covered with garbage/leaves/snow.
2014-12-15 10:35:47
This one? The first photo in that post's sequence. That's the one I refer to at 0:59 in my videos. Just a little toward Millvale from the S&S entrance.
2014-12-15 12:10:43
Yep! That's it. Didn't see you mention it earlier. I think it gets deeper every year. Can't 311 that.
2014-12-15 13:20:41
Babcock got significant attention at the newly formed Ross Twp bike-ped meeting last night. Easily 10 people there with a specific interest in cycling, both commuting and recreationally. @callahan, it was good to meet you in person! Some thoughts, and the general sense of attendees: * Many reiterated the need for at least a decently paved shoulder along the length, if not a formal bike lane. Possibly sharrows. * Apparently the state owned part is due for a repaving in the very near future. A widening or redesign isn't likely. * The absence of any sort of pedestrian accommodations along the section from Northway Car Wash to Northway Mall was noted. * The need is to make this a main bike thoroughfare, as it follows a natural valley. That will require the cooperation of the county, PennDOT, and neighboring townships (Shaler, McCandless). Let's see what happens with this group. It's only its first meeting, but plans are to meet monthly for the foreseeable future.
2015-02-26 03:14:24
The portion of Babcock from the north end of Millvale to Peoples Plank Road -- that wye in the road a mile south of the southern McKnight corner -- was milled during the week. The milling is nasty. They apparently did more than one pass, at different depths, so there is a largely invisible one-inch lip running longitudinally, right on the road edge. One good thing that's come of this is that the massive hole around the drain grate outbound, just before the wye mentioned above, was filled yesterday. Much of the work is being done at night. I came through there about 10 p.m., and they had a long segment of alternating one-way traffic.
2016-07-09 08:18:28
This sounds like an opportunity to get new bike things painted or shoulders widened during resurfacing and re-striping.
2016-07-11 09:46:43
I hope they fix the sunken drain grates on the bridge. I hold no high hopes of getting anything widened. That stretch between Rita's and the Shop'n Save, there is nowhere to go without condemning property. My worry is that by improving the road surface, that will embolden drivers to go even faster through here. When what I really want done is to lower the speed limit from 35 to 25.
2016-07-11 13:28:39
You don't need to widen the pavement to widen the shoulders. Just take it out of the lanes.
2016-07-12 09:55:14
Widening the shoulders will make it easier for drivers to blow past me at 35+ mph an elbow width off my brake handle. To me, that's not acceptable. This half mile of road is the thin funnel that everything must squeeze through to get from the river trail to North Park and the central North Hills. Every other road involves a major hill. The city equivalent of this is Butler Street. On Penn and Liberty through the Strip, regardless of the posted speed limit, there's a passing lane and people can fly past at whatever speed they want. But on Butler, between about 51st Street and Doughboy Square, there isn't anyplace to go. You can't pass because oncoming traffic is constant. There is no "over" to move to. Cars have to follow bikes down the street, at whatever speed the bikes are going. But at least on Butler the speed limit is 25. On Babcock it's 35. If you try to get right, you get a close pass. If cars try to pass, they're risking a head-on, because there isn't any "over" for oncoming traffic to move to, anymore than there is for bikes to do so. There is one solution that keeps everyone safe: Lower the speed limit to 25. I don't care who this pisses off.
2016-07-12 16:31:25
The repaving project on Babcock between the wye at Peoples Plank Rd and Millvale is essentially complete. If that isn't the final top coat of asphalt, it's very nice, and includes the shoulders. However: * The half mile between Rita's and 1717 Sigmas is still as narrow as it had been. * Inbound, there is still zero room. You have to take the lane. Outbound, there's about a two-foot shoulder, tempting enough to pull into to let traffic pass, but that only invites close passes. * The deep drain grates on the little bridge by Shop'n Save are untouched. That means if you do hang close to the road edge, you're going down into a six-inch-deep hole with longitudinal slots in it, both directions. I still don't know who I have to strangle, but that section needs to be 25 mph, nice new pavement be damned.  
2016-08-15 13:24:54
The stretch of Babcock from Rochester to Siebert has a nice fresh coat of asphalt. As of today, the lines are not yet painted on. But it's smooth as silk. This bit has always been fairly pleasant to ride on, with only a couple irritating shoulder holes, but for now, that's looking quite nice. I was on motorcycle today. This had to have been done since two weekends ago, when I biked in from Three Degree to Millvale.
2021-06-16 18:51:47
Continuing the above, the section running northeast off McKnight Rd, toward North Park, was also getting paved yesterday. This is a county project, not PennDOT. Some parts of Babcock are county, some are state, and I can't keep track of all the pieces myself. In any event, I know this bit of road gets a fair amount of bike traffic.
2021-06-18 06:11:16