Bob Firth's bike map
There’s an article in the PG about biking by Bob Firth, who has been involved in Pittsburgh mapping for a long time. He put a Pittsburgh biking map on his web sure at http://bobsmaps.com/. Might be worth a look.
@jonawebb, it is very interesting. I’m going to compare it to the bikepgh map. Thank you.
Thanks for posting this — I want to spend some more time looking at it. At a glance, his “comfort zone” idea is an interesting one for adults wanting to get back out on the road. However, either the map is out of date or he is taking a strong position by marking some streets with dedicated bike lanes and/or sharrows as “unfriendly,” Forbes Ave, east of Sq hill, and Hamilton Ave being but 2 examples. I do like that he is thinking about territory & visualization in a unique way.
I could nitpick (Federal is pink, but Perrysville doesn’t even rate; he’s got the arrows backwards on 3rd & 4th Aves, though I agree they’re good routes to take, etc.). Would have liked to see bus racks mentioned. At least he does point out a couple of staircases.
It’s good to have an independent opinion. The 55-year-old newbie bike riders who cannot handle even 2% grades need something like this. It’s all good. No matter who we get on a bike, for whatever reason, benefits everyone.
He got a good deal of ribbing for his map when it first came out (remember the Great North-East Passage? That was Bob, wasn’t it?)
The current map looks a lot better, especially the Polish Hill bit. Previously he had Paulowna as the preferred connection to Oakland. Yikes. (Not to be picky, but what’s wrong with Brereton, compared to Herron? Both involve a stretch of fast traffic.)
Here’s his editorial. A fairly extreme position, but perhaps after the recent deaths his very cautious approach will keep some people cycling who would otherwise quit.
A thought: If this gets a bunch of people over 40 to try a bike once in a while, that is an entirely different demographic from the majority of participants on this board and from the typical Bike-Pgh member. That in turn will lead to a distinctly different set of people ALSO clamoring for bike infrastructure.
The tipping point is approaching.
Firth takes a pretty conservative approach to bike routing — he doesn’t like Forbes even with the bike lanes because a line of paint won’t protect you against a car. Which is true, and I can understand people being reluctant to ride on Forbes between Squirrel Hill and Regent Square even with the bike lane. Cars really do go by fast there.
So Firth’s alternate routes are useful for “scaredy cats”, as he says, and may get more people on bikes. I think there are a fair number of people who think they might like to try biking but are scared away by the thought of attempting a street like Forbes or Penn (or the 62nd Street Bridge as in the PG letter). He might even save a life — who knows if some inexperienced rider might choose a safer route thanks to his map?
But I hope that people won’t turn away from adding bike lanes even to busy streets like Forbes. While a bike lane doesn’t make the street safe, it does make it safer. And the route from Squirrel Hill east on Firth’s map is quite a bit less convenient than Forbes. We need more bike lanes, even on busy streets, as well as low traffic and bike-only routes for the scaredy cats.
This summer I managed to get a couple friends of mine on bikes. This is the first time they have been on bikes since they were teens and they are both in their 50s. They are both afraid of riding on the street and thus will only ride on the trails. I am hopeful that as time goes by they will want to expand their riding and start on quieter back streets or short trips (grocery store, pharmacy, library) But even if they never ride anywhere other than the trails I know for a fact that it has changed the way they drive. They have told me as much that now that they have been on a bike they are more aware of bikes on the road when they are driving.
I think @Stu is right about a tipping point, I think we need to be prepared for it and for the backlash that will come after it.
I think this is a very exciting time to be a cyclist.
I don’t think the point will be fully tipped until backlash is a rarity and seen as being uncivilized, sort of like littering.
it may be my monitor or eyes, but gray, “safe” roads look virtually identical to pink, “danger” roads.
But I like his premise. I think a map like this would be incredibly helpful to a “weekend toodler” or people looking to de-stress their commutes. Other people on here have posted about paint’s lack of invisible force-field, so it’s not a novel idea. It’s a tool, and its intended use is well defined.
Of course if 35 mph speed limits were actually followed, those roads would be far less stressful and dangerous for ALL road users.
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