UPDATE as of 8/11/08:
DPW Director, Guy Costa announced that the City will be rehabbing the rest of the sidewalk from Moultrie Street on up! And in an email this week to Bike Pittsburgh, Councilwoman Tonya Payne committed to using city funds to rehab the sidewalk and to keep cars from illegally parking on it! Thanks to all the advocates who got the city to act!
UPDATE as of 7/8/08: Cars are still parking illegally on the sidewalk nearly every single day. City of Pittsburgh, why are you allowing this to happen!?
UPDATE as of 3/12/08: Cars are still parking illegally on the sidewalk just about every day
UPDATE as of 9/28/07: City Planning is working with the Police to keep cars from parking on the sidewalk, and DPW has sent engineers out to give a cost estimate to rehabbing the sidewalk. Thanks everyone for your letters! You are responsible for getting the city to act! Now what we need are letters asking the city to allocate funds to the rehab the sidewalk from Moultrie St (just past the Birmingham Bridge towards Uptown) to the Blvd of the Allies construction site alongside the Bus Lane. DPW’s estimates come in at $130,000. The key person to write to about making this funding available is Councilwoman Payne. Please tell her that this would complete a safe non-motorized route for her residents and other commuters in the city needing to walk or ride through her district. You can write her at firstname.lastname@example.org – please cc the City’s 3-1-1 request line: Mayor311Office@city.pittsburgh.pa.us.
It would also be helpful to write Representative Jake Wheatley and ask that money needs to be allotted for bike/ped/wheelchair improvements along the Fifth and Forbes corridor in Uptown and Oakland.
Thanks again for your efforts everyone. Let’s keep the momentum going!
“So, how do you want us to ride from Downtown to Oakland?”
On Thursday September 6th, a cyclist was ticketed on Fifth Ave in the bus lane between the Birmingham Bridge and Craft Ave. This isn’t the first time we reported about harassment here. The officer said the ticket will be for $100.
The cyclist knew that he wasn’t supposed to ride in the bus lane, BUT IT IS THE ONLY SAFE WAY INTO OAKLAND AVAILABLE YEAR ROUND.
Forcing cyclists on Forbes Ave is giving us a death sentence.
As bicyclists WE MUST DEMAND that the city provide us a safe commuting alternative. It is our right to choose how to commute, it is their responsibility to make it a safe choice for their citizens. And people should not be forced to drive a car or take the bus because shortsighted planning in the past has not provided for safe access to cyclists, walkers, and wheelchair users. We must DEMAND that the city addresses this unsafe section of town and either install a multi-use path alongside Fifth Ave., and/or light and maintain the Panther Hollow Trail so that bicyclists can use it regardless of time of day or time of year.
This corridor is arguably the most important cycling connection in the city as it sits at the crossroads of multiple neighborhoods, a heavily used bridge to the South Side, as well as connects the two largest business and employment areas, Downtown and Oakland. Despite the illegality, the bus lane has been a major cycling route for years (it’s the safest current alternative), yet no steps have been taken to ensure our safe passage on an acceptable alternative.
In fact, there was an opportunity to correct the situation with the new Blvd of the Allies project, currently under construction. Instead of redesigning it to ensure our safety, the traffic engineers have designed it so that cycling through this corridor, especially east on Forbes Ave, will get worse. They seem to have put more thought and time on the aesthetics of this “Gateway to Oakland” than on safety, creating instead a “Gateway to the Graveyard” for cyclists.
To add insult to injury, the project calls for a rehabilitation of the sidewalk along Fifth Ave, but only half way down the hill, which the state is covering. The city, who is responsible for the rest, has so far has not been able to find the funds to rehabilitate the rest of the sidewalk. Supposedly there is no money, but guaranteed if a sidewalk looked like this in Shadyside, it would be fixed. Even a smooth wide sidewalk would be better than our current situation. Note: according to PA law, cycling on sidewalks is only illegal in business districts. This is not zoned as a business district. Which brings us to our next point.
To add insult to injury, a used car dealership on the 2300 block of Fifth Ave (just east of the Birmingham Bridge) is parking the cars they’re selling on the sidewalk (our only refuge), yet we’re the ones getting ticketed and harassed because we have no where to go. We couldn’t ask for a more convenient metaphor. Somehow it is acceptable to force pedestrians, cyclists, and those in a wheelchair into the bus lane to help sell cars.
By the way, we’re not telling people to ride in the bus lane. Like we’ve said, this is illegal. However, we do understand why most cyclists choose this route. When given the choice between breaking the law and dying, most rational people will choose to break the law in order to survive or stay out of the hospital.
Solutions exist to provide a safe and legal passage into Oakland, but the city so far has yet to act. This is where a grassroots effort can make a difference! We invite any decision makers, law makers, and planners to see this first hand and take a ride with us up Forbes Ave into Oakland, we’ll even provide the bike! No police escorts allowed.
Please stay tuned as we follow and pursue this story.
WE NEED YOU, THE PUBLIC, TO CONTACT FOLKS TO LET THEM KNOW WE AREN’T MAKING UP THESE GRIEVANCES.
Click here for more photos of this area
Get fired up!! Some people to contact:
Writing these people is a necessary component in our struggle. The squeaky chain gets the lube. We must keep the pressure on.
- Take action now and call the Mayor’s 3-1-1 service line or fill out the online form
- Log your complaint with District 6 City Councilwoman, Tonya Payne and tell her about our dire situation and that funds should be allocated for the rehab of this sidewalk into a multi-use path
- Write the Oakland Transportation Management Association and let them know that we greatly appreciate their work to make Oakland more pedestrian friendly, and we
also need to request that Oakland begin to address bicycle transportation with on-street bike facilities and signage.
- PA House of Representatives for this district is Jake Wheatley. Let him know that more money needs to be allotted for bike/ped improvements along the Fifth and Forbes corridor in Uptown and Oakland.
If you need some talking points, here you go:
- The bus lane is the safest, although not preferred or legal cycling route into Oakland. A mixed use path next to the bus lane is the easiest and cheapest, short-term solution.
- Forbes Ave, with 376 off ramp and a future off ramp from the Blvd of the Allies is a Death sentence for cyclists.
- This corridor is arguably the most important cycling connection in the city as it sits at the crossroads of multiple neighborhoods, a heavily used bridge to the South Side, as well as connects the two largest business and employment areas, Downtown and Oakland.
- It is unacceptable that a public sidewalk on a major corridor be used to park private vehicles, especially to sell cars which further ruin the sidewalks.