Pittsburgh's Most Dangerous Intersections
Interesting post from The Atlantic’s City Lab blog, listing some of the most dangerous intersections in the country: http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/10/some-of-the-most-dangerous-intersections-in-america/412639/
Thinking about that, as well as the tragic accident in Oakland last week, I’m curious to hear what everyone thinks are Pittsburgh’s most dangerous intersections. In my mind, that corner at Forbes and Bellefield is definitely one of them. I would also nominate the Murray / Forward intersection in Squirrel Hill.
What are some others?
I don’t know if it’s especially dangerous, but Negley and Roup is certainly one of the more bizarre. Two two way roads just… merge. If it’s not dangerous, it’s because drivers recognize the danger and slow down.
Along the same lines, there’s the Parkway East exit intersection with Greendale Ave. Probably not dangerous, though, because I don’t think it gets too much traffic.
Forbes and Margaret Morrison St. is deadly when going downhill on Forbes towards CMU and wanting to make a left turn onto Margaret Morrison St. The left is not protected, and cars and buses come racing down Forbes well over the speed limit—you just have to hope that they will see you waiting to make a left and not flatten you.
Dangerous at all, or especially so? I could name two dozen of the former. Some standouts, though:
A) The merge from outbound Forbes dead lane with traffic coming off the Birmingham Bridge.
B) The merge of the ramp from the West End Circle with inbound WCarson traffic coming from McKees Rocks.
C) The merge of inbound California Ave with traffic coming from PA65.
D) Absolutely #1, still barely within city limits, has to be the merge of outbound East/Evergreen/McKnight with both the HOV Lane and I-279 exit ramps.
All of those feature ramp merges of high speed motor traffic with bicycle traffic with a large side order of where-else-could-you-possibly-be?
A) The merge from outbound Forbes dead lane with traffic coming off the Birmingham Bridge.
Do you mean where the cars come off the Parkway and merge with Forbes? I pass that every day.
The speed limit is 25, the average speed is between 50 and 60, and some of the traffic is up around 80 mph.
WHERE ARE OUR POLICE?
Grant Street/Boulevard of the Allies when you are trying to go from Grant to the jail trail.
South Dallas Ave./Beechwood Boulevard/Beacon St. is always a disaster. Very confusing rules and signage leads to driver mistakes. Really have to watch out on a bike.
I thought Forbes and Bellefield was ok, but not any more. The scariest intersections for me on my routes to/from work are:
1) 3 way intersection at Schenley Drive and Panther Hollow Rd. near Phipps. I’m glad they made this a 3 way stop. I always stop on my bike at the sign coming down Schenley Dr. and wait my turn to cross Panther Hollow to get on the bike lane. I was almost hit by a lady who thought she could sneak her turn in front of mine. I managed to swerve out of the way. It amazes me how drivers often try and steal my turn. But it’s not that bad- just annoying.
2) I turn left from 5th onto Neville on my way home (I’m on 5th just for that block). I’ve figured out that if I start on 5th during the pedestrian light I arrive at Neville when it’s red and then I get a protected left. Pretty sweet. I start getting very nervous though when there are a lot of cars making the left and I miss my opportunity to make a protected left. Then I’m a sitting duck on 5th with traffic barreling down behind me at 35 (lol really 45/55 mph). Should I break the law and ride to the front of the line to make a protected left? I would be so much safer. [Stupid laws not written by those who actually bike!]
3) Forbes and Bellefield. I make the turn Susan Hicks made on that awful Friday evening on my way to work. I turn from Schenley Dr. extension onto Forbes. When I approach Bellefield to make a left all lights are red- so this helps ensure traffic is slow. Then I turn left. I’m not sure if I will take this route anymore. I sure as hell am not taking this route when there is a green through light on Forbes.
There are countless others, but these are the ones I encounter regularly. I think the key things here are that intersections with multiple lanes and with fast moving traffic (over 25 mph) is an intersection to try to avoid until road calming measures make it better (ha ha ha- oh one can dream).
Nod to the piece of ^&* intersection at the base of Murray appreciated. Go through that every day with the train. The whole thing needs to be blown up and redone, but in the meantime, some lane markings coming down Pocusset would be nice.
People don’t know what lane they’re supposed to be in going straight (the left lane, per my understanding), and the result is that on the train, so we’re not squeezed out, we ride RIGHT tire track in the left lane and I have my eldest signalling right. It’s reasonably informative in the sense that we do ride to the right letting people pass up the first (generally pretty empty) block of Forward, but it might be working just be creating uncertainty and fear about what it is we are doing. In any case, my experience is that it works, and no other strategy does. That is, all other strategies sometimes yield people trying to squeeze by us dangerously to go straight while we’re still in the intersection.
Two worthy of mention since they’re official detours with the greenfield bridge out:
Beechwood Blvd westbound (follow the to monroeville parkway signs out of squirrel hill). You get a very short distance to get into into the left lane, a brief rise, and then a merge. If you fail to get into the left lane, you’re on your way to the parkway with no way to turn around. If you fail the merge you go into a concrete island and some road signs. Traffic is impatient.
Panther Hollow Rd eastbound. This should be an intersection, but it’s a ^&*ing interchange and the cycletrack leaves you in a bad merge position with no time to get over. You then have a delightful merge going uphill on a speedway with folks trying to cheat squirrel hill tunnel backups. Westbound is more absurd given the speed and wrong side orientation if you’re wedded to the cycletrack, but you can at least continue in lane and then as speed dissipates, on the shoulder safely. Again returning to eastbound, but coming from the blvd… it’s true you don’t have the merge, but you have a road bending around to the right through the interchange area somewhat blind and drivers speed like hell through there.
Just about any intersection on Liberty Ave downtown sucks, but the most dangerous is the 7th Street/Liberty/Wood mess
1) Agreement that Foward/Murray intersection is garbage.
I guess here’s a sampling.
2) Blvd of the Allies/Panther Hollow Road westbound and Parkview. If you are by yourself and there are no vehicles coming from Squill making that left turn (in front or behind) you are exposed in the middle of the road between two very fast moving streams of traffic, sitting in what used to be a marked turn lane .
3) Eastbound on Hobart and Beacon. Riders turning left on Beacon are exposed from behind to fast moving traffic coming off of Blvd of the Allies/Panther Hollow Road. Hate this intersection.
4) Grant and First Ave. Riders waiting to make the turn left to access EFT/Jail Trail head will be exposed to multiple drivers coming off of First Ave. *consistently* running the solid red to turn left on Grant.
5) Westbound Forbes to Schenley Drive, riders travelling at speed proceeding to Schenley Drive need to be cognizant of the semi-blind corner and aware of fast moving traffic coming from the right on Forbes.
There are plenty of intersections that have their own little idiosyncrasies that you learn as you get more experience traveling through them.
The bike lane crossing the ramp onto the Birmingham Bridge crosses the ramp in such a way that the sight lines are poor and the cars approach too fast.
Moorewood at Fifth going away from cmu. They need turn arrows at the light. Everyone gets into the intersection to turn, and people go straight from the right turn only lane and merge into you as you go straight from the left lane, which is the legal straight lane.
The CMU Master Plan http://www.cmu.edu/cdfd/master-plan/download-the-2012-master-plan.html
calls for safety upgrades at pretty much every intersection on Forbes from Schenley Plaza to Margaret Morrison and on Fifth from Bellefield to Wilkens. It calls for reconstruction of Fifth and Morewood and of Fifth and Neville. It also calls for pedestrian and trail upgrades on all parts of Neville within the campus.
This Master Plan calls out excess speed on Forbes and Fifth as particular problems
The pedestrian safety study of 2011 http://pedestrianstudy.otmapgh.org/downloads/Part_I_Final_Report_6-20-11.pdf counted intersection crashes near the CMU campus in 2005-2009. The top two were Fifth and Morewood (28 crashes, 10 inujuries) and Fifth and Neville (25 crashes, 13 injuries).
I note that these crash rates substantially higher than Los Angeles, where 12 and 20 crashes in 2002 to 2013 made the cut.
@Mary, what a relief it is to hear that it’s been studied and there’s a plan!
The actual solution, of course, is to narrow the lanes, which would reduce speeding. And the narrower lanes would leave space for a bike lane. It’s a win-win.
@jonawebb … Institutional commitment is valuable.
The Fifth and Morewood intersection needs more than narrowed lanes. The north and south sides of Morewood at Fifth are offset by a few feet, and the intersection needs to be reconstructed. CMU is working with the City on that one, and it’s a priority for CMU.
As for Fifth and Neville, this was discussed at the CMU bike/ped meeting last week, but I couldn’t be there. According to the notes, they’re trying to get a shared sidewalk from Fifth to the RR crossing. Central Catholic is a player because the upper end is on their land. Below the RR crossing there is space for the trail between CMU’s Neville parking lot and the RR (or perhaps they’re working with RR for last bits of space), but the city needs to create a place for that bit of trail to connect to; the goal is to get the bike/ped trail completely off Neville below the RR crossing. I saw somewhere that they’re also trying to get a bike lane at the RR crossing, but I can’t find that reference at the moment.
Also, CMU is working with Central Catholic to get a bike/ped ramp from Neville up to the new building that’s being constructed in the Morewood parking lot; they’re trying to do it without switchbacks (which probably means it will use all of the 8+% grade that’s allowed for and ADA-compliant ramp).
@Mary, I’m glad to hear they’re planning on fixing Fifth & Morewood. I’ve often wondered about that intersection — why it’s misaligned.
I was thinking particularly about the high traffic speeds on Forbes and Fifth through the dense urban area that is Oakland. There are — what — nine or ten lanes devoted to cars on Forbes and Fifth? Versus zero for bikes? The city keeps trying to work around the problem, creating alternate routes on Schenley Drive and Bayard, but eventually they’re going to have to take some space away from motorists. There’s just no way to avoid creating an east-west connection through Oakland for bikes. And I know that Bike Pittsburgh has been asking for this since it was founded. At this point, it’s just a question of how many more people are going to be injured or killed before it happens. Getting put off once again with “nothing can happen before 2017, assuming we get funds from the Feds” is pretty frustrating.
Getting put off once again with “nothing can happen before 2017, assuming we get funds from the Feds” is pretty frustrating.
Agreed, especially because it seems to presuppose that new/changed infrastructure is the only potential solution. Given the number of pedestrians and cyclists hit just in the last two weeks, I’d like to see if we could pick any low-hanging fruit, starting with “keep traffic moving at or below 25 MPH.”
Serious question: what can be done now to slow things down?
What are the obstacles to (for example) meaningful enforcement of traffic laws? Manpower, legal, other?
I’d love to see a solid week of cop-at-every-corner for 5 blocks of Fifth, pulling over and warning or citing, followed by sporadic 1-day traffic enforcement blitzes. Shake people up, break them out of their habits of complacency, and (to be blunt) make them feel insecure about driving in the ways they’ve become accustomed. Repeat this throughout the city, in whatever corridors seem the most dangerous.
It was done, at least, for a time, on Penn after Anthony Green and James Price were killed. Not sure what type of advocacy and political pressure it would take to get the same on Fifth/Forbes corridor.
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