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downtown WEIGH IN ON THE CITY’S PLANS TO MAKE BIKING AROUND DOWNTOWN SAFER The City of Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning has been working over the past year to develop bike lanes in and around Downtown Pittsburgh. The lanes will not only extend the existing Penn Ave Bike Lanes to Point State Park, but also cross town along Stanwix St to connect to the Monongahela River and the Eliza Furnace Trail/Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). Connecting the GAP Trail to the Point has been a priority for a number of years. The project aims to not only make it easier for residents to get to their jobs in downtown, but to make sure that the thousands of tourists riding between Pittsburgh and Washington DC on the GAP, are able to access our restaurants and businesses in the City’s core. Cycling is one of the most fastest and most efficient ways to navigate Downtown Pittsburgh, so expanding this infrastructure will encourage more to do so, while reducing the number of automobiles in the compact neighborhood. Residents, visitors, and commuters to Downtown Pittsburgh: Come hear about the long awaited bicycle connection between Point State Park and the Great Allegheny Passage! December 14, 2016 / 6-7pm Point Park University, Thayer Hall, JVH Auditorium 201 Wood St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 QUESTIONS? Please contact Kristin Saunders, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, City of Pittsburgh,
2016-12-06 14:12:23
Not to seem too churlish, but should not the goal be to make every, or almost every, street downtown welcoming to bikes? After all every street is now accommodating to cars, most even to pedestrians. What about the bikes? This is not a demand that all of downtown be made bike-friendly right now. We know that these things take time and are properly done incrementally. A connection between the GAP and Point Park is more in the realm of extending recreational amenities; which I think is great. But we really should be asking what we need to do to make downtown better support transport and commuting by bike.  
2016-12-07 09:39:15
BUMP. This is tonight.
2016-12-14 10:28:57
Thayer Hall is at 270 Third Ave near the corner of Wood St. (The 201 Wood St address given above is wrong.)
2016-12-14 12:25:02
Today I learned that investing $10 million entitles you to get pissy about on-street parking at public meetings. Who knew? ;-)
2016-12-14 19:58:20
Which private construction company invested $10 million and then was cranky they had to park on the street?
2016-12-14 20:02:52
...or maybe this is just yet another depressing example of how this annoying "us against them" mentality only ensures that we all suffer. I'm not saying I agree with that $10M guy you're referencing or the dude in the suit that spoke last but continuing to act like elitists with the roads gets us nowhere. Sure, we want to have bike lanes but we have to be considerate as to how it affects other people too. I wish this statistic was inverted, but we truly represent such a small amount of the population and we can't act like we're automatically entitled to make big changes to an urban layout and not expect some resistance. There's a better way to act. That's all I'm saying. I'm sure that there is a way that this can all work out to everyone's agreement but what happened today was so annoying.
2016-12-14 20:29:08
@chrispissingrivers, I'm sure the investor guy has valid concerns. Just merely pointing out (with a little humor) that his way to do it is perhaps not the right approach. It's another example of the kind of behavior one tends to see at these bike lane meetings, from all participants alike.
2016-12-14 20:43:42
I agree with the sentiment expressed by @chrispissingrivers. While I disagreed with the man in the suit's proposal that bikers could walk several blocks, I appreciated his perspective and his calmness about the situation that so many others lacked.
2016-12-14 21:22:33
Comment early and often on that Post-Gazette story! I'm sure the "cyclists and Peduto are stealing our parking!" bellyachers will put up a fight, and we need to speak up in defense of bike lanes.
2016-12-15 06:36:22
If there is a proposal that cyclists can walk a few blocks, why can't people using those businesses walk a few blocks from a parking garage?
2016-12-15 09:31:38
I think the issue isn't the workers but delivery people as well as visitors. They feel that without parking outside their clients will choose other places with closer parking. As someone that owns a tiny business that requires people to come for 30 or 60 min appts, that is a big consideration when getting office space.   However, the flip side is that the city has basically been subsidizing this easy access through on street parking, and now that the costs are increasing (IE spaces going bye bye) the businesses are worried.   I can see both sides. Surely there must be a compromise in there somewhere.
2016-12-15 09:40:11
So, currently, the only legal parking that would be affected, is off peak and only between wood and market street? And even then, there is a parking lot with a large driveway that prevents parking in front of the entire property. Everywhere else seems to be signed for no parking anytime. Looks like it's illegal to park between Smithfield and Wood St and between Market St and commonwealth blvd when I look at the signage on street view. Is that the scope of affected parking, just that one block? I wonder if more short term metered parking could be added to 1st ave? Might not be able to add a lot, but a few might be able to be shoehorned in to the existing infrastructure there to mitigate the loss on ft. Pitt. I get the lack of short term parking as a deterrent, which is why I almost never drive to the strip district on weekends. Often I don't want to be there all day, and $10 is too much to pay for a 30 minute stop in one or two stores.   So, I just bike there.
2016-12-15 10:12:21
@benzo the parking on Ft Pitt is between Wood and Market, and then a small section between Market and Stanwix, IIRC. No parking between Smithfield and Wood because of bus stop/bus layover area. I do wonder if it's possible to have off peak, weekday-only parking on Ft Pitt, and reduce this to one travel lane during that time
2016-12-15 10:52:08
@chrishent - I don't see anywhere that parking is allowed between market and stanwix on google street view. Looks like it's all marked with no parking or stopping signs. Street view was from july 2016. I did see a delivery truck parked there in front the building at the corner of stanwix, what looks like right in front of one of those no parking / no stopping signs.
2016-12-15 11:45:30
The bottom line is that we, as residents, all have the right to be downtown. Why should drivers receive additional absolute rights at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists simply because they bring a car with them? I'm all for compromise. It can start by respecting the right of each constituency to move about freely in the downtown area.
2016-12-15 12:57:14
We already have the right to move about freely. This has more to do with trading convenience for one group in exchange for (possibly) improving safety for another group. I don't see how anyone's receiving or losing any absolute rights under this plan. I think in addition to removing parking between Wood and Market, this would also remove about 3 parking spots between Grant and Cherry Way. Both blocks in question seem to have surface parking lots at one end. I wonder if some arrangement could be made with the lot owners to make a few spaces meter-controlled and priced to encourage short-term use (assuming that at the moment, they're typically filled by all-day parkers)?
2016-12-15 14:53:32
  The photos from that PG article: is this Ahlir? It sure looks like Ahlir.  
2016-12-15 16:39:25
Awesome things about this lane:
  1. Connects jail trail and Station Square to Point State Park and North Shore.. huge for tourists, families, and other recreational riders.  Also passes close to Market Square.
  2. Makes the skinny Fort Pitt Bridge sidewalk less necessary on many routes.
  3. The bike lanes will instantly become the logical choice to pass through downtown.  It looks like it is about 1.25 miles to get from Penn & 10th to the jail trail on these bike lanes, and roughly .75 miles along Grant or Cherry or Smithfield.  I'll bet most cyclists will choose to add a half mile to be able to ride in protected lanes.
  4. I'll bet this will make the Penn Ave. lanes much more popular, helping to validate the existence of them.
  5. This really fills the big downtown gap, so the arguments for more lanes can move on to other neighborhoods, like maybe the Fifth/Forbes corridor.
2016-12-15 16:53:40
ack. That is me. Wearing orange socks...  
2016-12-15 16:54:50
The way I am viewing it, is the bike lanes are a luxury. Obviously I verymuch want them. Biking nexto the road, or in the road is par for the course many other places.  But I find many of the drivers around these parts inconsiderate or downright oblivious to cyclist presence.  Making the lanes somewhat more of a safety facility. One of my biggest concerns is Port Authority drivers. Sure buses are big and tricky to see out of. But alot of these men and women seem aggressively anti-bike.  I've had quite a few unpleasant vehicular interactions.  Between the two groups of daily drivers and public transit operators, I am pessimistic over the idea of "public education" concerning the matter. People have to be willing to learn. Of note during the meeting- seemed quite pedantic and petty of that lady in pink at the end to insult that calm natured and reasonably approaching suit-clad man. Found it pretty low ball of the mediators to allow her "non-question", when they were cutting off the anti-bike folk who tried expressing non-questions.  That attitude and behavior only perpetuates the aforementioned Us v. Them mentality. And whoever brought their fat bike into the meeting room- was that some sort of joke or statement I didn't pick up on...?  
2016-12-16 17:57:39
I took some pictures during the meeting: Large turnout, a good mix of people. The planned route, as seen before: Ft Pitt Blvd, Stanwix Ave, Liberty Ave (extension of Penn Ave): Ft Pitt Blvd section (note yellow bollard in diagram). At lower right is blowup of the complex intersection with Smithfield St: Stanwix St section, this is the alternative I liked best: 4 car lanes, allowing wider car lanes and bollards (yes!) on the bike lanes, and a bus island (yes!) for bus passengers to wait on. The other alternative (not pictured) has 5 car lanes, no bollards or bus islands. Click to see uncropped picture, or more detail: Liberty Ave. The intersection at upper right is Penn Ave & Stanwix St, at upper left is Point State Park:
2016-12-16 18:22:53
@brother_rebus, it's not so much a luxury as a different way to use some public space. The roads have had a lot of different uses over the years—pedestrians, streetcars, etc. Cyclists will, quite probably, make good use of the space, in terms of number of people served. Better than we're presently doing with parking. So reallocating some space makes sense.
2016-12-16 18:35:19
Makes sense. Glad to see the "@" function working again. I was wondering, doesn anyone recall if they mentioned considering 4th Ave?
2016-12-16 21:29:14
I love the bus island concept. Way less conflict than having buses boarding across the bike lane at that very busy stop. Also like the fencing on the back side of the bus island to control crossing points from sidewalk to bus island.
2016-12-19 10:36:39
I saw some bus islands during a recent visit to Chicago. They work quite well, particularly if you provide bus riders with shelter at the bus stop (plus next bus information and things like that). The railing on the bus island is a must, particularly if you're going to raise the bike lane to the same level as the sidewalk/island. Otherwise, bus riders will spill over into the bike lane
2016-12-19 11:53:42
Did Ms. Saunders mention anything about the effect of the Penn Ave bike lane on businesses or traffic there?  It would seem if they had data, any data, which indicated that businesses and traffic have not been negatively impacted or even better positively impacted that that would be the best argument they could make. I know that studies in other cities have shown that bike lanes help business, but do not know what its effects have been here.  Until that data is collected, and communicated effectively, the same old talking past each other arguments will continue.  And no one cares that a thousand bicyclists a day use it except cyclists.  The cycling community and the Peduto administration need to convince the business community and non-cyclists. I've written Ms. Saunders about this and not received a reply. Suggested data could include: a) sales tax revenue on Penn Ave before and after installation of the bike lanes b) sales tax revenue on Penn Ave before and after the bike lanes compared to other streets without bike lanes c) any cost-benefit analysis of bike lanes vs other types of transportation infrastructure d) traffic data, either commute times or road usage, before and after e) surveys amongst business owners about the effect of the bike lanes If that data is negative, then well, it is what it is, and we need that data so we can figure out what we're not doing right that other cities are doing right. Also, as part of the new bike lanes these type of studies should be built in so that the data can be collected.
2016-12-19 12:38:02
@marv, for what it's worth, there's the following quote from the mayor, found in this article:
Change is difficult for any issue and in particular with transportation changes that are happening not just in Pittsburgh but around the country,” he said. “If you talk to the merchants along Penn Avenue where the first dedicated bike lane was installed, this was their best year
But yes, there needs to be more data about benefits of the local bike lanes. I've been to a few bike infrastructure meetings in town, and this part is usually mentioned a bit matter-of-factly by the city planners (though this is likely in part to expedite the meeting).
2016-12-19 13:46:53
I know several studies have been done with respect to retail business impacts of bike infrastructure. I wonder how this affects non-retail service based businesses, such as lawyers, accountants, dentists, doctors, etc. This may have been covered in existing studies or if this has been overlooked. Does anyone have references for this type of information?
2016-12-19 14:04:58
@chrishent, not that I don't believe the mayor, but that's purely anecdotal and not very convincing. It's unfortunate that the city planners sort of flippantly mention data-driven analysis.  How the heck do they measure if what they do is a success or not, so they can repeat the wins and not repeat the losses? And if they want to expedite the meetings then providing hard data would be a good way to do so as to stop people in their tracks before they go on with their preconceived notions.  On either side. Sorry to rant, but I get sick of hearing, or reading in the P-G or Trib comments, the same old arguments when there are (seemingly) obvious ways to get objective data. BTW, I'd love to see data on pedestrian safety also, before and after the bike lanes.
2016-12-19 14:29:05
The other issue is that I can't think of any street traffic driven business on Ft. Pitt. Pretty sure it is all office buildings with maybe a Starbucks on point park campus which is at Wood near Ft. Pitt. So these businesses won't have more foot traffic due to the bike lane. Penn was already growing/booming so it would be hard to say the bike lane was the cause for the uptick in business. I'm sure it helped but it would be hard to put a percentage on it. You would need to in depth study customer patterns and how they got there.
2016-12-19 14:55:07
@marv, I agree. Just because the mayor said so doesn't make it true. And to @edronline's point, Penn was already growing. Did the cycle track help the development in this area? Maybe not. But it doesn't seem to be hurting business, either. I also agree that there are little to no similarities between the ground-level businesses on Penn and any on Ft. Pitt. And I doubt a Ft Pitt cycle track is going to change that.
2016-12-19 15:37:44
Not that I'm against the Ft. Pitt bike lane. I think it is a great idea to help bike commuters and bridge the GAP with the point and the EFT. Just don't think it'll drive any business to ft. Pitt.
2016-12-19 17:26:23
@edronline and @chrishent I totally agree that the business makeup is totally different but there are businesses all along the proposed route not just Ft Pitt Blvd.  Not to mention if the city wants to expand the network further (which it should), then data needs to be a) collected and b) communicated. Either there's an opportunity here that's not being fully capitalized on or else the data isn't favorable and they're just sitting on it.  Neither is good really.
2016-12-19 22:58:10
I wonder why Blvd of the Allies wasn't chosen instead. It is very wide. A ton of unused capacity pretty much all the time. I could imagine still parking plus bike lanes plus cars in both directions. And it has some store fronts on it too.
2016-12-20 05:59:55
Among other reasons I recall having been given, there was concern over impacts on auto traffic on Allies, over impacts on the several more high-volume bus stops a route on Allies would pass, and over the much higher number of driveways and crossings on Allies. I missed Kristin's presentation, however, so I'm not sure if she gave a definitive reply to that.
2016-12-20 08:34:05
Among the reasons BOTA wasn't chosen
  • higher loss of on-street parking
  • Bigger impact in traffic throughput. Their traffic study (they didn't show it) revealed that taking a lane in BOTA would have a worse effect on traffic than doing so on Ft. Pitt
    • Also, if I recall correctly, they mentioned that BOTA is a state road, and is also the designated detour route whenever there are shenanigans on the Parkway.
  • Regarding bus stops on BOTA, they didn't mention it but I suppose it had an impact on their decision. There are more stops along BOTA in the stretch between Smithfield and Stanwix (3 westbound, 3 eastbound) than there are on Ft Pitt Blvd (1 westbound). However, these are not particularly high volume stops (see this report from Envision Downtown)
2016-12-20 08:48:49
Ft Pitt is also a state road, thus the need for PennDOT approval. But Allies is the detour when the Parkway is flooded or otherwise closed, yes.
2016-12-20 09:21:42
re: Data   "Either there’s an opportunity here that’s not being fully capitalized on or else the data isn’t favorable and they’re just sitting on it."   Nothing subversive to be found.  The answer is the usual: time and money.  Good-faith surveys of business owners have been found to be highly biased, producing junk data presented as fact.  Open-book analysis controlling for various factors would be needed, and in the end, we're going to be talking about percentages on the margins unless the impact is truly for the better or worse.  Before/After traffic analysis is labor intensive, could cost as much as the design itself, and again is subject to human perception.  How many folks in the East End are super happy about the SureTrac signals supposedly cutting delay by 25%?  Is that even perceptible? Same logic applies to bike projects.   I fully agree with the concept and in a perfect world this should be done for all transportation work, but it's an unfortunate reality of the current state of humanity that presenting factual data has only a marginal impact on public opinion.  The City is building good projects for good reasons, and people that refuse to believe that most likely aren't going to be swayed by charts and graphs.  Think about the people you see in comment sections claiming the Penn Ave bike counts are rigged by people standing there and going back and forth over them.  People respond to narratives.
2016-12-20 10:18:59
With the Ft. Pitt Blvd option, It's also nice that you could use the bikeway from wood street (if coming from the center of downtown as opposed to coming from penn ave lanes) as an alternative to the highway like conditions you currently have to face to get on to the Smithfield street bridge via the highway ramp style path you have to take.  Since it's illegal to bike in the bus lanes downtown, even between BOTA and the Smithfield street bridge, this creates a better legal option. Wood street to Smithfield street bridge is definitely not bike friendly the way you have to do it now, if you want to do it by the book.
2016-12-20 10:41:07
Thanks to both of you.  If pat was able to implement the bus routing around the CBD with larger feeder stops around the perimeter it probably would have eliminated the bus stop issue. The bike route is supposed to turn onto Smithfield, right?  That has a lot of parking, bus stops.  Or am I getting confused?
2016-12-20 11:04:52
@benzo, I actually think that Wood to Smithfield bridge is fine, provided you take the lane (and yes, I realize that inexperienced bike riders are not likely to do this). Because of the sharp left turn past Ft Pitt Blvd onto the ramp that goes to Smithfield bridge, drivers coming from Wood are not going fast, and those coming from the Parkway have a red light. The ramp to Smithfield is quite wide and gives plenty of room for passing vehicles. I do this maneuver all the time and will likely continue to do so after the cycle track is completed. The cycle track provides no advantages (for me) in this case. YMMV. @edronline, the route only goes on Smithfield at the intersection on Ft. Pitt Blvd. There's talk of a north-south bike route in the future, but nothing is set
2016-12-20 11:18:00
Adding to what others have said: Saunders said they chose not to continue on Fort Pitt to Commonwealth because the traffic flows on that westernmost block of Fort Pitt are the highest, and a bike lane going around the corner from Fort Pitt onto Commonwealth would constrict that intersection so much that there would no longer be room for cars to make a right turn there. The rest of Fort Pitt doesn't get much traffic except at rush hour. I think they've looked at the traffic issues quite carefully. Bluebird Kitchen on the first floor of the Keybank/First Niagara building, at Stanwix and Fort Pitt, should see benefits from cyclist traffic, as should the Starbucks at Fort Pitt and Wood.
2016-12-20 11:35:03
If pat was able to implement the bus routing around the CBD with larger feeder stops around the perimeter it probably would have eliminated the bus stop issue.
This would be so thoroughly a disaster for so many people who use the buses--notably, but not only, persons with limited mobility who not only shouldn't be forced to cross half of downtown to get to their bus but physically couldn't do it if they wanted to--that it was rightly shot down when it was proposed. The bus network downtown could stand to be simplified and regularised, but the idea of pushing all the buses to the edge of the CBD is a non-starter.
2016-12-20 12:31:12
I was opposed to that plan too when it was initially described as pushing the buses to the edge of the central business district, but once I heard the proposed route, it seemed like an improvement (and the "edge" description seemed misleading). Consider the east end buses (61x, 71x) which currently run on Sixth Avenue, Liberty, and Fifth Avenue. The proposed rerouting would have put them on Sixth Avenue to Grant, then north to Liberty, then Stanwix to BoA and back to Grant and out again. There are certain blocks which wouldn't have been as close under the proposal (mostly those actually on Sixth and Fifth), but overall it covers a lot more of downtown, and the average downtown block would be a good deal closer to the proposed route than to the current one. The current route for those buses doesn't get all that close to Point State Park, the bus station, the convention center, or Point Park University; the proposed one would.
2016-12-20 13:11:16
The bus network downtown could stand to be simplified and regularised, but the idea of pushing all the buses to the edge of the CBD is a non-starter.
Yup. Nothing like making it more inconvenient for people to take the bus to drive those ridership numbers down. I think the #14 route would have higher usage if it didn't terminate at the Allegheny (Heinz Field) T station. OT, but mentioned by one of the city people during the breakout sessions at this meeting: apparently, Penn Ave sees more car traffic than Liberty ave during rush hour. Liberty has become such a bus-dense road, that drivers are avoiding it.
2016-12-20 13:16:16
Kinda wish I'd stayed around for the after-meeting meetings, but I ironically had to run off to a transit meeting.
2016-12-20 15:09:00
A belated comment on the Penn Ave bike lane: That businesses along that street, particularly the restaurants, are doing better is a bit of a no-brainer. Previously the curbside lane had speeding cars; getting near the street felt dangerous. Now all you have are bikes (still dangerous to step in front of, but much less menacing). Putting tables out on the sidewalk now makes sense, and each table is more revenue. People are now more likely to be wandering down the street and likelier to sit down and spend. It's more enjoyable without the gas fumes and swirling dust. As a cyclist I was at first a bit annoyed at people stepping out into the lane, standing around and generally ignoring the bikers. Later I figured out that this was actually a good thing for the businesses: people were no longer afraid to walk down that street, hugging the storefronts, worrying about some speeding SUV jumping the curb. People stepping into the bike lane is just one side-effect of a much-improved environment. Yes, it would be nice if hard data were available to the public. (I thought that all that open-gov't stuff was supposed to do that; whatever.) But the changes along that street are pretty much self-evident. Heck, more than once I've been tempted to jump off my bike and go in for a drink in one of the bars. Of course I then notice there's no bike racks...
2016-12-20 18:11:08
ah, of course. not so observant as i fancied myself to be... mea culpa. i surely need to broaden the range of bars that i find attractive; but this might have to wait for a hot summer day when a cold beer is that much more compelling.
2016-12-20 18:54:43
Another whiny letter, titled "A Fort Pitt bike lane will be terrible for businesses": In a comment, I wrote "The title for this letter should be “I fear that MY business might be hurt by Fort Pitt bike lane”, because Mr. Pass makes a case that his business could be harmed, but he makes no case that it’s worse for Pittsburgh, overall." We need our own letter-writing campaign. To write a letter, follow the instructions here:
2016-12-24 20:45:32
My 2 cents on that story: All the problems being reported here are not being suffered by people, specifically, but people in cars. It is cars that are the limiting factor here, not bikes, not bike lanes, not politicians, not which voting lever Grandpa used. There is absolutely no problem here at all for people, only people in cars, and that in the very specific case of not having to walk more than a block or two to get to a building. Instruct anyone who might need to access that building to park in one of the parking facilities nearby, or get there by bus, or get dropped off by carpool or equivalent (or, dare I say it, bike there!), and the problem simply goes away. Every car you replace with a transit rider or cyclist frees up more parking for those who must get there by car. Improving cycling facilities makes it easier to get around by bike, indirectly benefiting drivers.
2016-12-24 23:19:41
I biked Ft. Pitt a few days ago. There is parking between Smithfield and Wood which doesn't seem all that important in the grand scheme of things.  Right now the parking is pretty much gone due to construction anyway (and, they have pedestrian traffic routed out onto Ft. Pitt Blvd without any barrier between the peds and the traffic). The biggest issue is Ft. Pitt between Wood and Market Street.  That stretch of Ft. Pitt has several storefront type businesses on them, including lawyers and design firms (including the one that re-designed Bike Pgh's website).  I could see how eliminating street parking would be a potential hardship here.  I think the current pay parking on that block accommodates short term (i.e., a few hours or less, not all day) use and as a business owner I could see where the concern comes from in terms of potential loss of business (and, for the landlord, property devaluation) given their current operation assumes easy paid parking out front. I'm wondering if there's a compromise somewhere -- one option would be having Ft. Pitt just be one lane for cars, meaning 1 lane for bikes and 1 lane for parking.  But then buses would block traffic with pick up and drop off. Another option would be having the bike lane skip that block -- Wood -> First -> Stanwix.  However, if I remember correctly, First is very narrow and actually quite quaint. It would need to turn into sharrows on First. Neither is a great solution. Of course, if/when they build the bike lanes as planned, businesses will adapt, people will adapt.  The businesses will point their customers to other streets nearby with parking, and some may actually show up to an appt by bike.  But the animosity doesn't go away as quickly and may flare up again with other bike-friendly projects that don't directly affect these businesses.
2017-01-02 08:01:34
Here is what the route looked like on New Year's Day. The parking spaces along Ft. Pitt Blvd. were in use. I had no trouble, but traffic was light. Quite a few bikes on the Penn Ave bike lane, though.  
2017-01-02 10:09:35