Oakland access from the west.
Continuing on about the Forbes Ave off ramp from the Parkway. I don’t think there is a need for this deadly, car-dependent piece of infrastructure to exist. Any motor vehicle traffic going to Oakland from Downtown or further west should be able to exit the Parkway onto Grant St. and get on the Blvd. of the Allies. Take the Blvd. of the Allies to the Forbes Ave. exit which exits onto the left side of Forbes Ave., just past the Parkway ramp, where there are no cyclists. Any traffic coming from the east already has to exit the Parkway onto Bates St. where there is a stop sign controlled intersection forcing traffic to stop and slow down rather ten just adding a lane to the street where high speeds can persist.
I’m pretty sure that is a heavily-used parkway exit, so I would not say that it’s pointless. And as a cyclist, I would not want all that traffic clogging up downtown streets. But I agree that it makes Forbes pretty scary going outbound on a bike in that area. I think the best fix for bike access to Oakland from downtown is the bike lane that is part of the bus rapid transit plan. The maps are found at the bottom of this page:
This would put a one-way outbound bike lane on Forbes from the Duquesne campus to Moultrie Street near the Birmingham Bridge, then a two-way bike lane on Fifth that goes the whole way through Oakland.
A great example, BTW, of a lost opportunity. PennDOT completely rebuilt the Boulevard of the Allies not too long ago. At that time they could relatively easily have added bicycle access between Downtown and Pittsburgh, but did not because they simply don’t care about bicycle access, though they are required to ‘consider’ it under state law. (I have a friend, a traffic engineer, who testified at their public meetings on this; they ‘considered’ it as required, but that’s all they did.)
Related, but lower in elevation, is the absence of a connection between the Birmingham Bridge and the Jail Trail. At one point, there is a gap of only about 25 vertical feet. We would need a ramp like the Smithfield Bridge ramp, though this would be much simpler to engineer.
They could have easily added bike access to the Boulevard of the Allies? How? The part through Uptown is built on the side of a hill. There’s no room to widen it even a little without huge expense. On one side there’s a sheer cliff face. On the other, the road is already suspended above the ground in some spots.
Look at how Duquesne’s outbound bus stop is constructed, hanging out over the cliffside. Are they supposed to build a bike lane like that, supported by posts anchored far down the hill, for the entire stretch through Uptown?
Plus the Boulevard has few cross streets, and around the Birmingham Bridge it uses on-ramps and off-ramps instead of intersections. It’s way too similar in character to a limited-access highway to be appropriate for bikes. And in Uptown it’s sandwiched between a pair of routes that are already suitable for bikes (the Jail Trail and the Fifth/Forbes corridor). If they had added bike lanes to the bridge over Forbes Avenue when they rebuilt that, it would have provided bike access to a part of the BotA that’s completely unsuitable for bikes, and certain to remain so.
I agree that the BRT project has a sensible, not-crazy, approach to improving bike access in that corridor.
Very few cyclists even consider taking the Blvd. of the Allies, Inbound or outbound between Grant St. and Craft Ave. I once did proceed west on the Blvd of the Allies from Craft Ave. and almost landed on the Parkway. I am never going to try it again.
At present, these are the options for travel between Uptown and Oakland.
- Head down Brady St. and climb up the embankment onto the Jail Trail then use the chute to access the Junction Hollow Trail.
- As above, but climb Bates St. on the sidewalk.
- From Forbes Ave., Climb Moultrie St. and take 5th Ave. Sidewalk into Oakland.
- As above, but climb up Kirkpatrick St. to Centre Ave. and enter Oakland on Craig St or Bigelow Blvd.
- Take Forbes Ave. through the Parkway ramp “Death Trap”, dismount, lift bike onto curb, and climb Ophelia St. to Craft Ave.
- As above., but use Forbes Ave. sidewalk to Craft Ave.
- Take 5th Ave. to Downtown. L. Grant St., R. 1st Ave., enter Jail Trail near the Grant St. interchange.
Here is a suggested route for motorists if the Forbes Ave. ramp is to be closed. No cyclists will be found on that section of Blvd. of the Allies which is highway like with a ramp to the left side of Forbes Ave. where there are also not going to be any cyclists.
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