Penn Hills CDC, municipality maybe work w/ BikePGH on ARB?
So last week I was hanging out at the YMCA passing out flyers for the Penn Hills CDC and talking with a fellow CDCer who is very active in PH.
Turns out there’s a great deal of will power (and a little bit of means) to try and improve ARB for cyclists while we wait patiently for the riverfront path. Street Sweeping was the first thing mentioned, to which I nodded my little head off and asked politely “please?!”
There’s also talk of opening up the lookouts again.
ARB is not a state/county road it seems, so it’s up to Pittsburgh, Penn Hills, and Verona to work together to figure out how to improve it. I’m not sure that a huge widening project with proper bike lanes would ever happen, but there’s a sense of “how can we help cyclists? who do we ask?”. Verona plays very nicely with others (according to my contact), I think the idea is to pick up Pittsburgh once we figure out what the little municipalities can handle, and ask Pgh to match efforts for their stretch.
So… Two questions. First, who do I point PH CDC (and municipality) to at Bike Pgh? Erok? Scott? Lolly? Someone else I am forgetting? Could one of you guys PM me with more specific contact info I can pass along?
Second… what are different ways people can think of to make ARB safer for cyclists? Off the top of my head: Street Sweeping, sharrows, more clear signage (share the road that doesn’t look like bumping), perhaps the occasional speed hump, maybe more consistant lighting at night… Anything else?
– enforcement of the speed limit if possible
– emphasize street sweeping = shoulder clearing
Street sweeping and shoulder-clearing would be a huge help.
The biggest problem with ARB, IMHO, isn’t ARB itself (though certainly it could be improved, but the fact that in the city, it dumps into an amazingly bike-unfriendly intersection. Turning left on Washington Blvd isn’t completely horrible, but if you want to proceed to Butler Street, you need to deal with traffic getting on the bridge (as well riding up a slight incline). Ideally, there would be a bike path along Washington Blvd that you could get to at the intersection with ARB via a cross-walk (and ped-activated walk lights). Then you could easily ride the length of Washington Blvd to Negley Run along a path rather than the road.
And while I’m dreaming, I’d like someone to buy me a new bike, too.
Seems to me it would do well for two people to take a video camera and hike each direction of ARB for the length in question, looking for and commenting on problem points and things needing attention, thus creating a working document.
bjanaszek – this all came after an honest “no, really, I *like* to ride my bike everywhere” conversation… if we don’t dream outloud, nobody can help us realize those dreams.
If Verona and Penn Hills got their act together, Pittsburgh might be that much more motivated to fix that intersection. I counted 7 people going through there one morning rush… if they weren’t afraid of ARB (just the intersection), that number might be higher, high enough for people to notice and fix the problem.
Bit by bit.
I think simple re-done lane striping would be very effective, I was reading about instances where highway departments simply set the outer white line, from the road centerline out, to the absolute state minimum, rather than setting it X distance from the shoulder, the drivers are psychologically confined, and unconsciously slow down. If you look at the google street view, the cars are riding the white line.
Also, the next time the road is due to be surfaced, rip out the stupid curbs, and pave out the shoulder. What major road outside an urban area has curbs? All they do is force bikes to be closer to the cars.
ARB is tarred and chipped, so the shoulder is of questionable quality in some spots.
I’m hoping this will be our next goal,immediately after the completion of the GAP trail.There are a lot of cyclists that live north and east of the city. I attended a meeting,headed by Tom Baxter, back in the early spring for the developement of a trail extending from the Point to Freeport,Pa.This will continue on and be part of the Erie trail.We had a nice crowd of 60 people show up for this meeting.I pray it doesn’t take a couple generations to complete.Maybe I’m a wishful dreamer, but I’d like to see this come to fruition within 10 years or less.
There is plenty of room to widen the road, although a trail along the tracks would be very easy to create.
After they paved the section from the fire training center to the police station, you can now ride from east liberty Blvd to the intersection on trail, and not on Washington Blvd.
Stu – I didn’t see your comment yesterday, I like it. Even if it’s just a “cyclists POV” to show what it’s like. I’ll work on that before the weather turns.
cburch – you mean the rumble strips in the middle? or are there rumble strips somewhere else I don’t know of? please elaborate? I know side rumbles are bad for business, but I thought the center was good – keeps cars from passing too close (they’d rather ride in the smoothe part on the other side than on the yellow, giving you an extra 6 inches or so)… is that just wishfull thinking on my part?
edmonds – I like the restriping idea, that’s practically free (they repaint anyway) & thus should be the easiest to manage. I’ll go out when doing the video and see if I can’t take a couple measurements without getting creamed.
bjanaszek (and anybody else who might know, paging morningsider?) – so how do we get the shoulders of tar&chip roads to be usable surfaces? I’ve got this problem all through PH and the ‘burbs – the shoulder _looks_ like a good surface but is in fact not a cohesive surface so much as quicksand. So I ride in the road and get yelled at to go to the shoulder. If we can’t tar&chip AND have good shoulders, what could they do instead to maintain the roads (keeping in mind the psychological factor, not just road mechanics)?
but I thought the center was good – keeps cars from passing too close
It makes them more likely to try for a close pass and not cross the yellow at all. It also discourages them from getting all four wheels across the yellow. I don’t ride on roads with center rumble strips all that often, but this was readily apparent on the populaire during BikeFest this year.
What major road outside an urban area has curbs?
That is a really good question. I know on Babcock Blvd and Perry Hwy, curbs mysteriously appear and disappear. I’ll have to start taking inventory.
ejwme – Definitely take someone with you on the video walk. It would be better to have a conversation going, rather than merely talking to oneself. One might see something the other didn’t, and the differing POVs from two people might have value in and of itself when looking at something questionable.
My experience on ARB (YMMV) is that cars are more than willing to cross the center rumble strips to avoid me.
Perhaps Scott or Erok could comment about the tar-and-chipping.
Scott is usually the one to follow up first with these CDC’s, so put them in touch.
Funny this just came up…
The Fed DOT just announced the TIGER II funding, and Pittsburgh got $$$$ to run an engineering study to put a rail/trail line from Oakmont to Downtown.
You heard it here first!
omg that would be so totally awesome. I only hope that it will happen faster than the last bit of the GAP.
well, who knows at this point. since it’s in partnership with Allegheny Valley RR, the easements and property stuff won’t be so difficult. the funding is another story
I think I PM’d Scott, but in the sent messages it doesn’t say who it’s “To” so i’m not sure it went through.
Maybe Verona could get some money from Safe Walks To Schools for the Verona-Oakmont portion, since the high school for Verona is Riverview? That’s some funding… Surely some fundraising in Oakmont would yield some more private funds.
Volunteers could probably make a trail along the RR tracks once you have the easement, its not like you need any heavy equipment or anything ….
@Boazo – Unfortunately, with federal money come federal regulations, which perversely make trail development HARDER in some cases. And, the rail line will remain active. So, this won’t be a quick fix. But, it is definitely a step in the right direction. There is a guy in Penn Hills — He’s with the Planning Department/Planning Commission. He’s been pushing for ARB improvements in Penn Hills for quite a while. Ejwme, you are a resident of Penn Hills, right? I could forward you his contact information and you could carry an olive branch forward, or carry the message that there may be a group that would be willing to help advance the cause, etc. But, I think the long term solution in the new rail corridor, with trail.
@ejwme, i didn’t get your PM, but i am happy to have a conversation with someone to help them down the path to making this on-street solution happen. The rail with “trail” (I’m putting trail in quotes because I would actually like to see something more like a physically separated bike lane that has clear delineations for where peds & bikes should be, lighted, etc. than what a “trail” has come to represent) is a great solution, but I’m guessing at least 2+ years out. Why not try to make what we have now more pleasant?
I’ll go out when doing the video and see if I can’t take a couple measurements without getting creamed.
The Active Allegheny Draft Plan has some measurements:
Allegheny River Boulevard
City of Pittsburgh to Oakmont
• Identified as not compatible for bicycle traffic as it would need a
consistent 4’-6’ shoulder based on PennDOT design guidelines.
• Existing cross section is 30’ with 11’ and 12’ lanes and 3’-4’ shoulders.
It’s on the list of top 10 bike facility deficiencies, and fixing it is marked “long-term”.
Assuming the 30′ is uniform (since they don’t give a range for that), stripe it with 2 – 11′ motor lanes and 2 – 4′ bike lanes, DONE, 2 paint stripes, throw in some bikey symbols on the shoulder. And keep the darn thing clean.
I think it was already determined that it’s not Penndot jurisdiction, so they couldn’t say anyway. But it sounds like you could meet the minimum standard.
B-b-b-but I nneeeeeeed my 57 mph four-lane road! (never mind those little signs with the numbers on them, who gives a fig what those numbers mean, anyway)
the painting thing has the most promise, it’s what I’m hoping we can convince Penn Hills to do, or to get penndot to do…
sloaps – there are curbs there (and I’m trying to keep this cheap) but there’s plenty of room for that, you’re right.
I don’t like this “long term” improvement range, I find it thoroughly unacceptable. Paint is seasonal, it can be don in the spring, thus it should be done in the spring. The trail being “long term” is equally unacceptable, but if we get lanes, that would do.
There was a time, not too long ago, when Penn Hills Borough was actively reviewing their options for making this stretch of ARB more bike friendly. I don’t want to send a tidal wave of folks to my contact there, but perhaps EJWME, as a local resident could serve as our point of contact with the Borough. The message would simply be that the local cycling community has renewed their interest in working with Penn Hills to see what can be done, and that the County would appear to be behind the concept, as it is included as one of a dozen or so recommendations for improved bicycle commuting options in Allegheny County. E, are you interested in taking on that “point of contact” role? If not, is there another PH resident who might be willing to do so? If so, let me know, and I’ll PM you the contact information for this individual. I could go through my channels, but I think the mesasge is more powerful if the expression of interest comes from a local resident.
Sure! I’ll be a resident contact, I think I know who you’re talking about at PH Maybe dback can help lend a voice sometimes, so they know it’s not just one crazy lady with a bike
(totally unrelated side note – I saw a commuter at 6-6:30PM yesterday on Frankstown near the municipal building, middle agedish (30-?) white male on a bike with the most ripped calves I’ve ever seen – are you here? you are awesome! that’s THREE commuters in PH I’ve seen personally… I wonder how many there are out there, hiding in the hills…)
One of the issues with ARB is there are/were granite curbs along ARB in places that were being considered for widening, and simply digging them up and pitching them is not acceptable. Moving them could pose issues.
I’m hoping the re-striping, marking, and street sweeping will take care of a lot of the issues. There are pinch points at intersections thanks to turning lanes, that’s where I’m hoping Bike-PGH can help the Striping Authorities come up with ideas for merge points or alternatives that will eliminate those as excuses to do nothing. But we’ve got lousy lane endings at intersections in the city, so why should that be a show stopper for ARB? Maybe we can get them done right!
This is more exciting than a roomfull of chocolate and no consequences.
I have had the pleasure of using ARB as a pedestrian, biker, and driver. I do believe that restriping should help things. I encounter joggers and bikers each time I use that roadway. Personally, I felt safer as a pedestrian along the railroad tracks instead of using the shoulder. As a biker, I was somewhat uncomfortable, but I am not completely used to biking along this route. As a driver, I try to go as far left so that I barely hit rumble strips then pull back an inch or two while slowing down, pass biker/jogger, then resume speed. I always underestimate the gap so the rumble strips actually prevent me from going too far to the left. I feel that I provide enough space for biker and help it by going slower to pass.
A side note on curbed suburban roads, it seems that roads of a certain vintage (I think 1930’s-1940’s – originally concrete) all had curbs installed as part of their design. There are even 4 lane suburban roads with curbs and lanes barely meeting minimums (Bower Hill, Route 8, etc.). I think that if they can do turning lanes at intersections, there is more than enough room for a bike lane on each side at least between intersections.
I’m originally a Plum resident who frequented Penn Hills/Verona area, as well as Allegheny River Boulevard and if there is any assistance that I can provide in information gathering, surveying, or even design, feel free get in touch. I usually use ARB several times a month if I don’t use the 1 Freeport Road bus to get to Oakmont.
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