West Carson Street Death Trap!
First of all let me thank everyone @ at BikePgh for the inspiration for me to understand that riding around this city doesn’t need to be as dangerous as it sometimes seems to be, and that with some effort on all of our part we can make changes happen. Thank you x 1000!
That being said, let’s talk about West Carson St. I live in Crafton and in order for me to get anywhere east from here I have to pass through the dreaded West End Circle and it’s endless road construction. It’s unavoidable and I can accept that. But what I can’t accept is what comes next. First of all the ramp leading to West Carson Street puts me into the left lane in front of the fleet gas station and I have to merge right with vehicles travelling upwards of 60 m.p.h. from the west. There is no sidewalk option on the right and my only other option would be to wait on the yellow line, cross 2 lanes of opposing traffic, and ride the glass strewn, construction sign obstacle course on the sidewalk to the left. Once I do manage to get into right lane however, it’s full of wheel crushing pot holes, sewer caps, and all manner of bike killing obstructions. I do take the lane as it’s my only means of survival and what I get for that is motorists who impatiently ride my back tire at 30-35 m.p.h. and then roar past me at 2 inches to my left at the first opportunity. I was going to describe the ride back home but it’s just the exact same thing in reverse.
Anyone who has ridden this section of road knows exactly what I’m talking about. West Carson street is a deathtrap and someone will get killed there if things don’t change. I’m going to call the mayor’s 311 line today to report this ongoing problem and I’m asking all of you to do the same. Riding in the city battling for road space with multi ton vehicles all day can sometimes make you feel like an underdog but it doesn’t have to be that way. Help me bring this situation to the city’s attention before “Cyclist Run Down On West Carson St.” is the next article you read in the Car-nage section of this site.
Y’know, if I had not ridden that route, I would think you are exaggerating. As it is, this is a accurate description.
You may want to tone down hostile overtones when you relate this issue to the city. It would be easy for them to unfairly dismiss what you are saying.
I suspect the situation would also impact pedestrians from the West End as well.
Also personally, I do find the outbound trip to be much less stressful. I think it’s because I can use the sidewalk as a refuge.
Here’s a question in genral – do other bikers in the city sometimes go and sweep section of sidewalk they use regularly that are glass strewn? I occasionally sweep glass from the sidewalk going up Bates (never as systematically as I would like), but it’s pretty obvious most bikes just deal with it and don’t clean it up at all.
West Carson is a PennDOT road – District 11. Another product of “good enough for now” 1930s-50s design and deferred maintenance. Call up District 11 and ask them if that road is scheduled for an overhaul. Then express to them that you commute by bicycle and would appreciate if PennDOT could provide for a safer means for bike and pedestrian traffic on that section of 51 and 837.
The section is an unfortunate segment because it’s the ass end of S.R. 837. The section of carson west of the west end bridge is Route 51.
That whole section from Fort Pitt Bridge to McKees Rocks has to be near the top of the list by now? New sidewalks, legal “guiderail” and barriers, as well as, full depth pavement rehabilitation.
yeah, that’s tough. they really just need to extend the trail some to the west end bridge. i usually dip down into the westen end of station square (near the incline) at the first (or is it second) traffic light.
you will frequently find me pushing glass out of the bike lane on the birmingham bridge
That entire intersection (on both sides of the railroad tunnels) will be reconstructed and repaved when the West End Reconstruction project is completed.
Might it be worth crossing the West End Bridge and riding the river trail? (Oops, sorry, forgot about the stupid casino.)
As for sweeping, in the year that I worked in the Cardello Building — commuting by bus and unicycle — I kept a broom hidden in the bushes near the north end of the sidewalk connecting Western Ave with the steps to the Cardello parking lot. Glass was certainly plentiful, but feces came in a close 2nd. (That broom got a lot of use.)
Commute on a unicycle?
Sir, I bow to you!
I think I’m gonna stash a broom next to the Bates hill. Thanks.
Come to think of it, I once unicycled from Cardello along West Carson (on the sidewalk) to — and through the Corliss Tunnel — to Sheraden, circa ’02-’03. Man, that sidewalk on W Carson was horrid then. I unked a bit of the walk between the WEndBr and 1600 WCarson, too. Painful. I’m guessing that road hasn’t gotten serious maintenance since the 1950s.
West Carson is going under the knife very soon. PennDOT already put out their RFP and I think selected a firm. We made sure bicycling is on the radar as there is almost certainly enough room for lanes — especially if they take away the extraneous third lane and just put in turning lanes at major intersections. Not sure when designs will start, but we’ll make sure we get the word out about all public meetings that are advertised for public input. By now, PennDOT is probably already anticipating major cyclist turnout and hopefully making sure their contractors are already designing bike facilities.
As for the West End Circle, that’s being addressed too. http://bike-pgh.org/2007/10/11/west-end-circle-realignment-work-begins-monday/
It’s one of our first wins as BikePGH about 5 or 6 years ago now. Hopefully the path will address the major issues of biking through/around the circle, but if we were going through the same process now, I’m sure we would think of more things PennDOT could do to help make it even safer.
Hey, after an unfortunately long hiatus from cycling I’m trying to get back into it with the intention of eventually commuting to work – Sq. Hill to Robinson. Getting through this section was my biggest question mark. Good to hear it’s being addressed and please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.
Their are some bike riders from the city that need to commute to work, out to the Sewickly/Coraoplis area.I personally know a few myself.It’s really too bad there’s no safe way to bike there and back without risking ones life.It would be wonderful if the trail on the southside could be extended just a few miles west to Neville Island.
+What Lenny said.
Saturday I biked into the city from Cpls, and with this thread in mind, carefully avoided W Carson by crossing the McKees Rocks Bridge. I then continued to California Ave, dropped down Antrim to Woods Run, and picked up the river trail down by the old jail. Except for the detour around the casino, it’s probably safer than to deal with W Carson.
lol – I wish! But that trip was on two wheels.
Oh, an update on the McKees Rocks Bridge broken sidewalk: Looks like all the steel is in place, and they’re just waiting for the cement trucks. Getting *to* that sidewalk might prove troublesome, though. I don’t see how that can be done, except from Helen Street.
hahaha that sidewalk has been cracking me up for at least 5 years now … good to hear they are actually going to fix it!
OK, scratch that suggestion. The McKees Rocks Bridge is going to close next week, I guess for the big repairs.
Soooo… Any other bright ideas out there for getting into town from the Cpls/Sto-Rox/Sheraden areas without getting killed on West Carson, at least through the summer?
Back about 1987-1990, when Port Authority was laying out the West Busway, plans called for the busway to be up on the ledge where the railroad is. The railroad changed its mind, which is why the WB ends at that flyover by the Corliss Tunnel. But that does pose the possibility, if there’s space enough for a whole two-lane road, what are the chances we can get a bike path up there? Probably similar to a snowball’s chance in a Really Hot Place, but considering the alternative, maybe worth inquiring?
Hi Stu. I work out in the Windgap Industrial craziness over by McKees Rocks. To get into town from work, while avoiding West Carson, I’ll take a route through Sheraden that goes through the Corliss Tunnel. There usually isn’t much traffic in the afternoon, but I don’t know about the morning. View Map
I take the left lane through Corliss Tunnel, and get on the linear patch of rubble, broken glass, and plywood that passes for a sidewalk on the far side of Carson. I take that sidewalk to the steps up onto the West End Bridge and cross the bridge on the walkway. From there it’s just a matter of making it through the Northside to the bridge of your choice.
There is a great route out the north side of the Ohio River as far as Emsworth. Add one mile of yucky riding on Route 65 and you’ll be on Beaver Avenue in Osborne. Or, cross the I-79 Bridge (its easier than it sounds) to Neville Island and on to Coraopolis.
Basic route (outbound) is north on Brighton Road from the vicinity of West Park/Aviary/CCAC; turn left onto California. Stay on California to top of McKeesRocks Bridge, where you veer/turn right to stay on California. At the next stoplight, left onto California into Bellevue. This road changes names several times before it ends at Hazelwood Street in Emsworth. Left on Hazelwood, and a quick right will put you on Route 65. You’ll be heading downhill – and with one lane closed past the landslide area – so be aggressive and take the lane. After about a mile you’ll be at the on ramps to I-79 for the Coraopolis/Neville link. Or stay straight for another half mile or so and take the gentle right at the stoplight onto Beaver Avenue for the ride into Sewickley/Leetsdale/Ambridge.
I am trying to find an alternate to Route 65. There are local streets in Glenfield (near the marinas, under I-79, and others in the industrual park on the opposite side of I-79. The railroad goes through there so there must be some sort of connection. But, it would be off road.
Anyone know Glenfield well enough to help connect teh dots? That would reduce the need to be on Route 65 to well under a mils between Pittsburgh and Sewickley.
Wow, the McKees Rocks Bridge being closed definitely puts a crimp in my usual route to Sewickley (not that I go out there very often, but…)
Once, out of curiosity, I crossed the I-79 bridge and tried to find a way out of Glenfield that wasn’t Route 65, but without much luck. However, it looks like there’s a street called Huntington Ave that will take you from Emsworth to just before Glenfield without much climbing:
That will drop you onto 65 at a point where it has an actual shoulder at which point you can get on the I-79 bridge.
In a related question, has anyone ridden all the way to Rochester/Beaver on the North (right bank) of the Ohio? It looks like there’s a gap of a few miles where 65 is the only flat road. I’ve taken 51 to get out that way a few times and while it’s a terrifying road, it has hardly any traffic. But a better, flat alternative would be nice, since once you get to Beaver it’s an easy ride to, well, Cleveland, among other places.
Update on McKees Rocks Bridge: Two-way car traffic is now possible. The upstream sidewalk is again closed. Looks like the downstream sidewalk is open.
I didn’t bike it. I wouldn’t bike it, yet. Very narrow, lots of construction debris, cones, barriers. Frankly, I’d avoid it by car, too, unless absolutely necessary.
Stu and Erok: I was riding across the Highland Park bridge (on the downriver sidewalk) a couple months ago and was pleasantly surprised. The bike map says it often has a lot of glass and gravel, so I was apprehensive about traveling across, but when I got there, all the debris had been swept to one side–still there on the sidewalk, but mostly cleared off. I sent an “attaboy” to the 311 website thanking them for that, but if it’s my fellow cyclists, then I’ll share that gratitude here, and wonder if someone has stashed a broom in Highland Park. (Perhaps interestingly, as soon as the bridge ended–but before it was really safe to get into the main traffic lane again–the sweeping stopped and there was a lot of glass etc. scattered across the sidewalk. Maybe someone got the instructions to sweep the sidewalk on the bridge so did that and that only?)
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