Westward trail connections, feas. study presentation
I got this surprise email today from Allegheny County. I’m sure Bike Pgh! will post something about this, but I wanted to get this up asap;
“In honor of National Bike to Work Day, please join County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, along with Friends of the Riverfront, Bike Pittsburgh, members of the Ohio River Trail Planning Committee (connecting Pittsburgh to Coraopolis), and Bike for Purpose, on Thursday May 16 at 10:00 a.m., at the Shoppes at Chartiers Crossing in McKees Rocks (the plaza where the Rite Aid is located).
We will be highlighting the just-completed feasibility study that shows the connections from Pittsburgh to McKees Rocks and Coraopolis – this is the work you all have been involved in for the past year. We will also be calling attention to the importance of safe routes for biking and walking to the grocery store, library, parks and around the community.”
This is a key segment that will eventually finish the connection of the GAP all the way to the Ohio border. I’m going to try to make this, 10:00 am on a work-day, bleh, but ok. This shows up on Google as “McKees Rocks Plaza”, 200 Chartiers Avenue. If anyone wants a route that avoids W. Carson, I might be able to put something together, let me know.
Very glad to hear about plans on this front. If we’re going to be serious about becoming bike friendly, we must take full advantage of all our riverfronts.
sounds good i hope at age 58 i live long enough to ride this trail its not gonna be an easy one to build
I’m curious to know how this will connect with ohio. I know that once it can be used as a connector to the montour trail, then we can switch to the panhandle trail and take that out to West Virginia. Is that the planned route?
Gah I would love to be there but the timing is awful. Wish I could do something like send a cardboard cutout of me on my bike, fearfully pedaling on West Carson.
That would be one route. However the Ohio River Trail Council (ORTC) is also working on a trail from Coraopolis westward. If we can get people to Cory.
Now that the Sandcastle block is shortly out of the way, it’s time to start thinking of extending and linking the GAP/C & O to go all the way to the west coast.
@Mick — something like that is already in the works with the US Bike Route System (USBRS). In its complete form it will something like a 40,000 route system. Details are at the Adventure Cycling website. The maps shows the general location of proposed corridors — the GAP/C&O Towpath is already marked as one of those corridors. And my local favorite — Bike Route G through central PA. All we have to do is live long enough to see it happen!
I know there are a variety of routes – and even a coast-to-coast route for walking horses and bikes.
I should know more about this
But there isn’t a coast to coast off-road bike route yet and this could be a start. I’d like to see the first one go through Pittsburgh.
I too would love to get there, but the timing and location is a no-can-do. (What do these people think, that all we do is ride bikes around all day? Well, maybe some of us do, but others of us earn a living.)
Anyway, do we know anything about the format? Whether it will be anything like that charade from back in December 2011 in the West End, telling us what they’d decided to do with West Carson? Are they truly interested in ideas? Is it pie-in-the-sky dreaming? Can we send in written ideas?
I’d be really happy to be able to bike from the south end of the Wabash Tunnel to West Carson at River in McKees Rocks, using that old railroad right-of-way, a HAWK signal at Steuben Street, and something like that couple hundred yards of bike structure between 31st & 40th St Bridges, to attach to the side of West Carson where there isn’t much horizontal space between the street and the railroad. Extend it the other way past the Wabash Tunnel (which itself will be opened to bikes in all of this) to West Liberty Avenue via Hargrove Street. In so doing, connecting both southern and western suburbs with a single project.
Glad to hear talk about the Wabash tunnel in terms of the south hills. I had similar thoughts. Love the old rr right of way as a way to connect west. I didn’t know that existed. Thank goodness!
Not sure what you’re saying with the 31st and 40th street bridges “in a single project”. Clarify? I’m going to be offline for a couple days, so if I don’t respond no worry, but I will eagerly read the response.
So, this seems to be just a presentation of the study done by the consulting engineers (Mackin?), as well as a photo-op for Fitzy-G. I don’t know that there will be any comment and response portion, we shall see. One of the engineers on the project called me and interviewed me on the phone last fall for about 20 minutes about the corridor, he had a serious and constructive view of the project, seemed not at all to just be knocking out some boilerplate study. A group of them actually rode bikes through the corridor, which I thought was in itself commendable.
i can make this ill stop at the plaza on my way to work i dont have to be at work till noon i can get my ride in on the montour trail and then go to the plaza before work
On the North Shore Trail, I was referring to the structure they built between 31SB and 40SB that actually sticks out over the river a bit.
If you start at River and West Carson, there is a very wide space along the railroad, that unused “lane” of the railroad bridge, but that narrows to nothing as you go upstream. Meanwhile, that railroad bridge over West Carson by the West End Circle is the same dead line that goes past the end of Wabash. I propose a “shelf” like that, to be built along West Carson, to get bikes from River Ave to that viaduct by the West End Circle.
Also, I mentioned HAWK signals earlier. [video]
Much simpler – West Carson only needs 1 automobile travel lane in each direction, except at the tiny handful of intersections. One entire lane could be a separated mixed use path. The temporary construction narrowing at the Brunot Island railroad bridge proves this clearly.
I’d like to see somethgn like the HAWK system – only with standard green, yellow, and red light signals.
As presented in the video, I was ould nto consider going into that crosswalk around Pittsburgh if there wree moving cars headed to it. Don’t trust the little flashing reds.
FYI, just saw this article…
The plan calls for both bicycle lanes and a share-the-road route that would pass through the city, McKees Rocks, Stowe, Neville and Coraopolis. Bike Anyplace routes will connect places where people want to work, shop and go to school, Mr. Fitzgerald said.
There was a nice turn out. McKees Rocks, Stowe and Neville were well represented by their local officials. County Exec. Fitzgerald spoke forcefully about the importance of this connection, as did Tom Baxter, Scott Bricker and Amy Camp. The biggest surprise (to me) was the level of support clearly articulated by McKees Rocks.
This was awesome. Very hopeful, much more hopeful than a year or so ago when we were relying solely on PennDot to drop some scraps of consideration our way. This could happen.
WPXI had good coverage on their noon newscast but I don’t see it up on their site yet.
@edmonds, if you keep showing up on the TV you’re going to need a stylist and makeup.
This article http://www.wesa.fm/post/plan-complete-construction-ohio-river-bike-trail-set-summer says construction starts this summer — which I find hard to believe. Does anyone know what this means?
The PG article Benzo linked to has a headline that says “trail”, but the body of the article merely talks about bike lanes and share-the-road signs.
Will some of this be an actual trail, separated from cars by a barrier? Or is this all about some paint and signs to mark the road as a bike route? (Bike lanes would be nice, sure, but an actual trail would be wonderful.)
So glad to see this all. If anyone knows what else can be done to keep momentum, I’m there.
I posted this on the P-G, but FWIW as a talking point:
What a lot of people don’t realize is that right now, a bicycle group coming into the PIT airport to ride to DC has one route – the Montour Trail through the South Hills, to South Park thence to DC.
They don’t come into Pgh and have a beer, eat dinner, stay at a hotel, get breakfast, buy gifts, etc. They bypass Pittsburgh and spend that money in Connellsville. It’s been happening for a while.
This Coraopolis-downtown connection provides a route from the PIT airport via the airport connector, Groveton, Cory, straight into downtown. More tourism money, more visitors, more better. For the cyclists, it’s a better connection to the GAP.
This is not about MAMILs wanting special privileges. This is about bringing economic development into Allegheny County, that’s why the ACE was there. This is a good move for the Pittsburgh economy.
(chapeau to SR)
The original story link seems dead, here’s a new one:
It looks like they just propose to add sharrows to west carson st. This is just putting lipstick on a pig. It’s not a safety improvement. Let’s write some letters to fitz and let him know that this is NOT the way to improve this corridor. We need separate bike lanes.
Wow that’s terrible. Here’s the email I just sent:
I am writing to you to ask for your support in reworking the proposed bike plan for West Carson Street.
West Carson between the West End Circle and Stanhope St is not suitable for biking today. It will not be suitable for biking under the proposed plan as described by the PG: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-west/new-bike-route-on-pittsburghs-west-end-unveiled-687938/
That corridor is high speed, gets zero enforcement, and is dangerous even for drivers. Adding sharrows would be slapping the proverbial band-aid on the cancer patient. It’s a waste of time, resources, and energy.
Separated bike lanes are the only solution here.
We bike. We walk. We vote.
[pinky’s real name]
Driver, Pedestrian, and Cyclist
I send the following
I was initially excited to hear about a plan to connect the Southside of Pittsburgh with the West End neighborhoods and the Montour trail trailhead. However, after reading about the proposal and learning that the proposal involved simply adding wider lanes and sharrows to West Carson St, I feel that no consideration has been made for the average cyclist. I lost my father when he was hit by a car on his bicycle 3 years ago, and it has greatly affected my life, so I feel the need to advocate for others. I was inspired by Dan Yablonsky, a bike-pgh intern who was hit and put in to a coma in Pittsburgh last year, spoke at the Ride of Silence on Wednesday and made the point to everyone that we have to be heard by politicians, publications, and planners. So I’m asking you to make help us make a change for the better, to improve cyclist safety.
West Carson St is one of the most dangerous roads in the city, and simply adding wider lanes with sharrows will only encourage more speeding and create a dangerous situation for less experienced cyclists who see the sharrows and assume it’s a safe bike route. This is simply putting lipstick on a pig. It’s not going to improve safety for cyclists, and it’s not going to encourage cyclists to use this route. We need to have separate bike lanes (preferably with some level of physical separation) or a separated path for cyclists to ensure a reasonable level of safety on this high speed corridor. Keeping narrow lanes and adding a wide shoulder on both sides would be more of an improvement than the current plan.
This roadway is especially dangerous on weekends due to alcohol related incidents from people leaving the southside entertainment district. I was involved in an alcohol related incident in Columbus Ohio last January where a group of 7 cyclists were riding together and 2 riders near the back were directly hit, and flew past me as we rode down a 4 lane road with sharrows on the outer lane on an official city bike route. 3 Other riders were partially impacted and had damaged equipment and minor injuries. Luckily no one was killed. This was a hit and run. The driver was later apprehended. My friends left in ambulances. See this link for more details: http://urbanvelo.org/close-call-in-columbus/
I am a confident rider and ride in the city every day, and I wouldn’t feel safe riding on this street with the proposed improvements, I couldn’t encourage anyone else to either. As the plan now stands, I cannot support it. You need to put pressure on Penndot to revise this plan to actually accommodate the unique needs of cyclists to help prevent us from being killed on the streets. Without changes, cyclists will not feel welcome and they will not provide an economic gain to the west end communities as this plan is intended to do.
I wonder why Buncher couldn’t be persuaded to allow passage across their horrendous eyesore of a property, 1600 West Carson. It wouldn’t be conceptually any different than the Sadcastle/Keystone Gordian knot, aside from negotiations and agreements would be simple to implement. At least get people as far as the WEC. Just thinking.
2 and 3 done. I will work on #1 tomorrow when I have more time.
And this is my plea to the rest of the board: Please help with this! The links are all here, ready for you. Just a quick word will show that there are people interested.
Let’s put some oomph in it, because a half-assed plan like this will have remarkable staying power. Improvements will be difficult because “We just redid that section 5/10/15 years ago!”
We, at SPC, are seeking input on regional transportation needs as well. If you submit something to 1, 2 and/or 3 above, could you also submit an input form to SPC?
The link is http://www.spcregion.org/trans_tip_projform.asp
The top section will ask for your contact information. Lower in the form is a specific section for ped/bike matters. Below the radial buttons is an open comment section where you can paste the meat of your letter to 1, 2 and/or 3 above.
We are seeking ideas on specific projects as well as overall needs or issues (related to any transportation mode). Any comments received by May 31st will be shared with our City and County planning partners and PennDOT in a formal project evaluation process to take place early this summer.
If the form is inaccessible to you, a fax to 412-391-9160 will also work. But we encourage use of the form, if possible!
P.S. This form is being used to collect transportation needs/ideas/projects in any of the 10 counties in our region – Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland, as well as the City of Pittsburgh.
Sent to Mr. Fitzgerald earlier today, will try to find time for more on Sunday.
I just read in the Post Gazette the great news that the West End is finally going to receive some attention to make it more bicycle & pedestrian friendly. While I am very grateful that this is finally receiving attention, I am disappointed in the proposed plan. I think a shared lane mix-model of cars and bikes will be dangerous along this stretch. As background, I ride a bicycle on urban streets almost daily, and I have bicycled that stretch of Carson from the West End Circle down to McKeesrocks on multiple occasions. I find this stretch to be the most dangerous two mile stretch of road within the city due to fast traffic speeds and dangerous drivers. I know there were planning meetings last year that I and other cyclist attended where we made our concerns made. I also know that funding is not unlimited and not all desires can be incorporated into every plan. But this is an extremely dangerous road with no realistic alternative routes. I would be glad to accompany you on a bicycle ride through that area sometime so you can experience the issue first hand.
Swalfoort – done.
Just got a nice reply from Wayne Fontana’s office:
Thank you for contacting me about your concerns. My office has placed a call to PennDOT this afternoon asking for details from them on the issue. Once we hear back and discuss the possibility of an alternative plan with them, I or my staff will be in touch with you.
Here’s mine, apologies to pinky, who I lifted the basic format of the letter from.
County Executive Fitzgerald,
I am corresponding with your office to indicate my support for cycling infrastructure on West Carson Street, but with reservations about the initial plans as reported by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Sharrows have their place in the development of a diverse comprehensive multi-modal transportation policy, but when linked to widening the street (in this specific example), will only result in increased vehicular speeds and be to the detriment to the attempt to develop a cycling friendly corridor that will bring additional economic development to the city and county.
Our family believes in your stated goal of “Bike Anyplace” routes that will connect places where people want to work, shop and go to school. The way to achieve the increased economic benefits from such a plan is to lay the groundwork now for solid and well planned public policy that encourages all Pittsburgh residents and visitors to utilize the infrastructure, and in this case, that involves separated bike lanes.
The Bike Pgh petition to mayoral candidates, has over 1800 visible signatories who agree with the following statement:
“We need our next mayor to invest significantly in the programs and infrastructure that will transform our streets and communities into healthy, vibrant places that are safe and accessible for everyone to bike and walk. Sign the petition and tell the candidates you want to put an end to dangerous driving, that you want to make it safe for Pittsburghers to bike or walk to school and work, and that you want our city to compete with all the other world-class cities investing in better bikeways and pedestrian facilities.” I’m sure the sentiment can be generalized to all our elected officials and should be interpreted as an indication that there is a large and mobilized segment of the voting public that is devoted to the issue of cycling infrastructure and complete streets.
We are dedicated cyclists, registered voters, residents of the City of Pittsburgh, and transplants from Minneapolis. Developing well planned cycling infrastructure is a major draw for families like ours. For us, physical cycling infrastructure is a bellwether for the health and livability of the city.
There is a window of opportunity at this time. Developing an ambitious plan to illustrate that the county is behind economic development and green initiatives by developing separated bike lanes in an area that would require this treatment would be a indicator of the county’s commitment to these values, rather than to window-dressing (like the attempt to hide the unfinished half-done former Hilton under a sheet during the G-20 conference).
Please advocate for separated bike lanes in regards to West Carson Street.
Man that’s a pretty great response from Fontana. I should probably write his as well.
“Hey Fitz! West End bike plan be f*cked up, yo. I vote.”
I didn’t use quite those words, but that captures the gist of my email.
If we thought along the same lines as this plan, we could just put some sharrows on penn ave through homewood / point breeze area and call it an official route. Hell, it doesn’t even have a huge stone wall on one side. It would be so much safer and cyclist friendly.
NO. It wouldn’t.
Received a response from AC Executive Fitzgerald’s office on my Letter:
Mr. Voytko ~
County Executive Fitzgerald asked that I respond to your e-mail on his behalf. The portion of the trail that deals with the county and its municipalities begins at the City line going into McKees Rocks. The Route 51/West Carson Street Corridor is a project led by PennDot with the City of Pittsburgh. The plan announced suggests that we need a separated bike lane along that corridor, but both PennDot and the City of Pittsburgh have jurisdiction. For that reason, I encourage you to contact City officials regarding your concerns as they are the ones who would have the ability to make this change.
Amie M. Downs
Director of Communications
County of Allegheny
This seems to indicate we should contact the city too. So, I guess I’ll forward my message to Mayor Ravenstahl’s office as well (and maybe the next mayor after tomorrow’s election results are in)
Got the same thing. Here’s my reply (not letting anyone off the hook):
I really appreciate your response. I have already sent my concerns out to Dan Deasy and Wayne Fontana, and I will now reach out to Mayor Ravenstahl.
I hope that County Executive Fitzergald continues to monitor the planning. I understand the jurisdiction issues, but I am also aware of how interconnected our region is. It’s imperative that our elected officials work together for what is best for the constituents.
Many thanks again for the email.
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